VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The province of British Columbia introduced on Monday new environmental assessment rules that it said will increase clarity and certainty for the companies behind projects, mirroring efforts by the Canadian government to update major project reviews.
The proposed changes will enhance early consultation with indigenous groups and allow “good projects” to be approved more quickly, British Columbia’s environment minister George Heyman said in a statement.
“We want to reduce the potential for the types of legal challenges we’ve too frequently seen in B.C.,” Heyman said.
Most major projects in British Columbia must undergo an environmental assessment, often done in partnership with a federal review.
Canada’s ruling Liberals introduced draft legislation earlier this year that would change how pipelines, mines and other major projects are assessed, seeking to address unhappiness over the potential environmental impact of those developments.
The federal move has been criticized by political opponents and some in industry over concerns it will add more hurdles without resulting in increased public support for contentious projects like crude oil pipelines.
British Columbia said the changes to its process will give the province the ability to more fully assess environmental impacts of developments, including upstream emissions and social, cultural and health effects.
It will also include stronger enforcement, including audits, to ensure conditions of approval are being followed as intended.
The new rules will need to be approved by the province’s legislative assembly.
Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Chris Reese