EA Reform: Starting off on the Right Foot

The federal government is currently reviewing several environmental laws, regulations and processes. On Dec 15, the ELC filed a report in the environmental assessment process on behalf of Nature Canada calling on government to include regional strategic environmental assessment (RSEA) in their rewrite of the law.

The submission makes a number of key recommendations for considering RSEA in the environmental assessment process. RSEA may be used where there are significant cumulative environmental assessment concerns in a region; when new types or intensities of industrial development are proposed in a region; or where there has been significant decline in key ecological values or environmental health benchmarks in a region. The submission also calls for an “off-ramp” process for projects that would be better addressed at a regional level; a transparent public petition process for requesting regional assessments; and a collaborative regional assessment process with Indigenous and provincial governments.

In addition to preparing the report on environmental assessment reform for Nature Canada, the ELC hosted two teleconferences for interested lawyers, environmental organizations and First Nations in order to help facilitate discussion and collaboration for groups preparing submissions to the environmental assessment and Fisheries Act reform processes.

This experience was an opportunity to engage in true law reform in real-time. Without the Environmental Law Clinic course, it’s unlikely that I would have had time to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to developing a new responsive environmental assessment regime. The opportunity to sit in on cross-Canada calls between environmental lawyers all trying to develop a next-generation environmental assessment was a lesson in the importance of teamwork especially in the public interest environmental law and policy field. ~Andhra Azevedo

Read the submission:

Starting off on the right foot: Recommended Criteria for Triggering Regional Strategic Environmental Assessments under a new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

For more information about the environmental assessment reform process:

Expert Panel Review of Environmental Assessment Processes (#EAreview)