In a bid to modernize environmental assessment and regulatory processes and regain public trust in agencies, Canada is proposing to establish a single government agency responsible for assessments of federally designated projects, a move that could potentially help calm protests that have been stalling major energy projects.
Now Canada has three major federal regulatory bodies that are involved in environmental assessments of projects: the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
“This is all about rebuilding public trust in how we make decisions on major projects that are important to our economy,” an official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
According to the official, Canada is mulling over empowering the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the overall responsibility to review the projects, while the government will have the final say in deciding if a project will go through.
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, said in the government discussion paper and call for inputs:
“The environment and economy go hand in hand. That’s why our government will deliver environmental assessment and regulatory processes that regain public trust, protect the environment, support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and ensure good projects go ahead that get resources to market sustainably.”
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According to British Columbia’s oldest public interest environmental law organization, West Coast Environmental Law, “The government has fallen short of the next-generation assessment principles agreed to by environmental assessment experts, Indigenous peoples, environmental groups and the general public across the country.”
“Instead, the government has proposed maintaining the status quo of politicized decisions made behind closed doors, decisions that would allow short-term economic gains to trump human and environmental health,” Staff Counsel Anna Johnston said in the press release.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.