Following a 14-month investigation, the Government of Canada has proposed extensive changes that would drastically change how oil and gas pipeline projects will be reviewed moving forward.
The proposed changes include:
- Increased public participation in project reviews: A new early engagement phase will be adopted and regulators will work more closely with Indigenous Peoples when making decisions.
- Transparent, science-based decisions: These rulings will be easy to understand and made publicly available.
- More comprehensive impact assessments: The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, will be replaced with the Impact Assessment Act. Also, the types of impacts studied will be expanded to better understand the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of proposed projects over the long term. Reviews will also include gender-based analysis.
- One project, one review: To reduce duplication and red tape, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (currently the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) will oversee all federal reviews of major projects. They will work with other bodies like the new Canadian Energy Regulator (currently the National Energy Board), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Offshore Boards, and in cooperation with provinces and territories and Indigenous jurisdictions.
- Making decisions timely: Timelines for project reviews would be reduced and rigorously managed to ensure they include fewer stops of the legislated clock.
- Revising the project list: Canadians will be asked to provide feedback on a more robust project list, identifying types of projects within federal jurisdiction that could pose major risks to the environment and require review.
- Increased funding: Up to $1.01 billion will be invested over five years to support the proposed new impact assessment regime and Canadian Energy Regulator; increased scientific capacity in federal departments and agencies; changes required to protect water, fish and navigation; and increased Indigenous and public participation.