Canada Moves to Strengthen Environmental Reviews of Pipelinesby
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will overhaul the country’s pipeline regulator as part of an effort to rewrite and strengthen environmental laws.
The federal review of environmental assessment rules unveiled Monday will include a strategy for how to “modernize” the National Energy Board regulatory agency in a bid to restore confidence. Trudeau campaigned in last year’s election on toughening environmental laws, cutting emissions and expanding consultation with the country’s indigenous communities.
“We will strengthen Canadians’ trust in the regulatory process,” Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in Ottawa, adding the review would “restore credibility” to the system.
The review opens the door to setting new rules and milestones for a range of projects and industries from fish habitat to new mines to oil pipelines. It also will lead to an overhaul of environmental-review rules for the NEB, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
As part of the measures, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced the creation of a panel to review current environmental-assessment laws. She didn’t say who its members would be.
Carr and McKenna unveiled interim measures in January affecting pipeline projects already under review, including TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain expansion. That step was criticized for adding yet another layer to an already lengthy process, with Conservative lawmaker Candice Bergen saying Trudeau’s Liberals “have created massive uncertainty when it comes to building pipelines.”
Proposed pipelines saw their application timeline extended, in part to add a new review by the Trudeau cabinet that weighs the impact on emissions among other factors.
“We are here to act in the best interest of Canadians and restore their trust in environmental assessments,” McKenna said Monday, when she, Carr and other ministers launched the review.