Seven Year Review of CEAA: An update

Seven Year Review of CEAA: An update

A comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) was due to be conducted in 2010 (by section 32 of Bill C-9: An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act). With a late start, the review began in early 2011 but was cut short with the federal election call. The review started anew in October of this year. The ELC participated in the seven year review by submitting written comments to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in both March and November 2011 (which can be found on our website at http://www.elc.ab.ca/Content_Files/Files/BriefsAndSubmissions/ELCAlbertaCEAAreview2011_Final_EN.pdf and http://www.elc.ab.ca/Content_Files/Files/CEAA_Comments_November_2011.pdf)

The ELC welcomes and encourages a thorough review of CEAA and the federal environmental assessment process. However, we are concerned that a thorough review will not happen given the process followed by the Standing Committee.

Individuals and organizations began receiving calls to appear as witnesses before the Standing Committee in October – often with very little notice to appear and little direction from the Standing Committee as to which issues it particularly wanted input. Then, with barely two business days  notice, the Standing Committee set a deadline for written submissions (November 28). The hearing and witnesses scheduled for November 29 were cancelled. A confidential draft report to the Standing Committee is due December 6th. As abruptly as it started, the seven year review appears to have come to an end.

It is disappointing that the opportunity to conduct a thorough review and learn from years of experience under CEAA has not been seized. Environmental assessment is a cornerstone of sustainable development – unfortunately, it appears an opportunity to improve upon CEAA and environmental assessment in Canada may have been squandered by not pursuing a more thorough and structured review process.

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