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Canada's Minister of the Environment responds to Green Party claims on Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

Special to The Canadian

  Minister of the Environment

I would like to clarify certain facts for your readers concerning Bill C-9, as discussed in “Green Party suggests Canadian Environmental Assessment Act needs rehab”, published on May 11, 2010, in The Canadian.

The proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act are aimed at correcting problems linked to the current environmental assessment process. The process itself would be simplified, while still retaining all the elements that must be examined under the Act. The role of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency would be strengthened, as it would assume sole responsibility for conducting most comprehensive studies of major projects.

The proposed amendments would also make permanent the temporary regulations that have been in place since 2009. These regulations exempt routine public infrastructure projects from environmental assessment. Experience has shown that any adverse environmental effects resulting from these projects are negligible. Nevertheless, additional protection has been incorporated into the amendments we propose, giving the Minister of the Environment the authority to require even a routine public infrastructure project to undergo an environmental assessment if there is any possibility that it may cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The amendments would also allow the Minister of the Environment to establish the scope of the federal environmental assessment, for example, in order to meet both federal and provincial requirements for the same project by means of a single assessment, carried out jointly with our provincial partner.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure your readers that high-calibre environmental assessments will continue to be carried out. Amendments to the Act are being proposed in an effort to ensure a more effective use of resources in support of sustainable development. This Government is committed to putting in place a regulatory regime that offers greater protection to the environment, while at the same time simplifying current processes.

-- The Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment

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