The new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, is now in force, and federal environmental screenings are a thing of the past.
The new CEAA, S.C. 2012 c. 19, s. 52, was created by section 52 of the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act , S.C. 2012, c. 19. Section 66 of the same Act repealed the old Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, S.C. 1992, c. 37. Both of these sections of the Jobs Act came into force July 6, 2012 by Order in Council P.C. 2012-969.
Environmental Assessment REGULATIONS
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency posted the unofficial versions of the new regulations. Official versions, when available, will be posted on the Justice Canada website. Under these regulations, all federal environmental screenings have been eliminated. The only projects that could still receive any federal environmental assessment scrutiny will be those that were formerly on the Comprehensive Study List.
For any projects that were already part way through a federal environmental screening, that screening is no longer required. The only exceptions are sixteen large projects specifically designated by the Minister, including the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project, the Highway 69 Four-laning Project, the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project, and the Refurbishment and Continued Operation of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
The Order in Council describes the purpose and function of the new Act as follows:
“Assessments will be conducted of proposed projects designated through regulations or by the Minister of the Environment under the Act. The assessments will consider whether the designated projects are likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on components of the environment that are within the legislative authority of Parliament or as a result of a federal decision taken in relation to the project.
Assessments will be conducted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency), by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for projects that are regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and by the National Energy Board for projects that are regulated under the National Energy Board Act or the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act. If the Agency is the responsible authority, the Minister of the Environment may refer the environmental assessment of a designated project to a review panel of independent experts. Time limits are set in the Act for assessments by the Agency and review panels.
Cooperation with other jurisdictions is enabled through powers in the Act to delegate the conduct of all or part of an environmental assessment, to substitute the environmental assessment process of another jurisdiction for the process in the Act, or to recognize a provincial process as being equivalent to the process set out in the Act.
The Act requires that opportunities for public participation be provided during assessments, and that participant funding programs and a public registry of documents, including an Internet site, be established.
Follow-up programs will be mandatory for all environmental assessments. The Act provides for powers of inspection and fines for non-compliance with the Act. Conditions with which project proponents must comply will be established in enforceable environmental assessment decision statements.
Federal authorities are required to ensure their decisions with respect to projects on federal lands and outside Canada that are not designated projects do not cause significant adverse environmental effects.”