January 27, 2016 — Ottawa – Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, and Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, today announced an interim approach that includes principles and plans for major projects. These principles are the first part of a broader strategy to review and restore confidence in Canada’s environmental assessment processes.
The Government will demonstrate to Canadians and to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Protecting the environment and growing the economy are not incompatible goals; in fact, our future success demands that we do both.
As stated in the Speech from the Throne, the Government will introduce new environmental assessment processes as part of our efforts to restore public trust. Public input will be sought and considered. Decisions will be informed by scientific evidence. Indigenous peoples will be more fully engaged in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects. The process will have greater transparency.
Addressing climate change in Canada will require collaboration with Canada’s provinces and territories to incorporate greenhouse gas emissions in environmental assessment processes and as part of a national climate change framework. To inform these processes, upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with projects under review will be assessed.
Canadians understand that a review and changes will take time. In the interim, the Government remains responsible for making decisions related to projects being assessed while that review is under way.
The following principles are intended to provide greater certainty as to how the Government of Canada will be guided in the application of its discretionary decision-making authorities for projects being assessed during the review of environmental assessment processes:
1. No project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line — project reviews will continue within the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities and Northern regulatory boards;
2. Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and other relevant evidence;
3. The views of the public and affected communities will be sought and considered;
4. Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated; and
5. Direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.
During the interim period, timely decisions on individual projects will depend upon the provision of sufficient information and evidence in accordance with these principles. Where required, steps will be taken to gather additional evidence.
Trans Mountain Expansion Project
The Government of Canada will:
- Undertake deeper consultations with Indigenous peoples and provide funding to support participation in these consultations;
- Assess the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with this project and make this information public; and,
- Appoint a Ministerial Representative to engage communities, including Indigenous communities potentially affected by the project, to seek their views and report back to the Minister of Natural Resources.
To create space for these measures, the Minister of Natural Resources intends to seek an extension to the legislated time limit for the Government’s decision by four months (to seven months in total), extending the date from August 2016 to December 2016.
Energy East Pipeline
The Government of Canada will:
- Undertake deeper consultations with Indigenous peoples potentially affected by the project and provide funding to support these consultations;
- Help facilitate expanded public input into the National Energy Board review process, including public and community engagement activities. The Minister of Natural Resources intends to recommend the appointment of three temporary members to the National Energy Board; and,
- Assess the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with this project and make this information public.
To create space for these measures, the Minister of Natural Resources intends to seek an extension to the legislated review time limit by six months (to 21 months in total) and seek an extension to the legislated time limit for the Government’s decision by three months (to six months in total), for an anticipated total of 27 months.
The Minister of Natural Resources will look at all other projects undergoing an NEB review to determine whether additional measures are needed to meet the principles.