OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government, seeking to address unhappiness over the potential environmental impact of major projects, on Thursday unveiled draft legislation to change how pipelines and mines are assessed.
Here are the highlights of the proposed reforms.
- The government plans to bring in an Impact Assessment Act that would expand the types of impacts studied to understand how a proposed project could affect the environment as well as looking at health, social and economic implications and the possible implications for aboriginal communities.
- Ottawa says it will also consider how projects are consistent with Canada’s environmental obligations and its national climate plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- Ottawa will create an Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to lead all federal reviews of major projects, working with other bodies like the new Canadian Energy Regulator and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
- Canada will scrap the National Energy Board regulator and replace it with the Canadian Energy Regulator, which it says will be more modern and transparent.
- The government will draw up a list of projects that would need a more detailed review, given the likelihood they could pose major risks to the environment.
- Projects unlikely to harm the environment will be handled by the Impact Assessment Agency. More complex projects will be given to special review panels working with the agency.
- The law imposes time lines for reviews. Assessments done by the agency must be completed within 300 days, at which point the environment minister has 30 days to either take a decision or refer the matter to cabinet.
- The timeline for reviews carried out by panels is 600 days, after which the full cabinet would have 90 days to decide what to do.
Reporting by David LjunggrenEditing by Chizu Nomiyama