Legal Update: Feds Amend Triggers for Environmental Assessments
November 25, 2013
On November 6, 2013 amendments to the Regulations Designating Physical Activities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 took effect. The Regulations determine whether a project triggers a requirement for a federal environmental assessment.
Prior and current amendments reflect a significant shift in federal environmental policy. The prior statutory amendments generally reduced the federal scope for assessment, and increased the circumstances in which a harmonized process would be undertaken in cooperation with one or more provinces. The most recent regulatory amendments continue that approach, limiting federal reviews to larger projects or first time developments within a sector. The current amendments impact the circumstances in which oil and gas exploration and production activities in the East Coast offshore industry – those within the jurisdiction of the NL or NS Offshore Boards – trigger a federal environmental assessment:
- Facilities. Offshore production facilities and pipelines no longer trigger a federal environmental assessment.
- Pipelines. Only the construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment of a new offshore oil and gas pipeline (except a flowline) now triggers a federal environmental assessment.
- Exploratory Drilling. A federal environmental assessment is now required for “drilling, testing and abandonment of offshore exploration wells in the first drilling program” in an area covered in an exploration licence(s).
The significant shift in federal environmental policy potentially impacts developers in several sectors, including mining and the offshore. Developers should take them into account in the early stages of project planning.
Click here to read the amended Regulations Designating Physical Activities.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper Environmental Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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