Today’s long-awaited Review of the Environmental Assessment Process report shows signs of making environmental assessments credible again, however many questions remain.
Elizabeth May said:
“The Green Party of Canada continues to call for the restoration of environmental assessments based on the principles of the original Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), brought forward under former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. This Act was repealed in 2012 by Stephen Harper’s omnibus budget bill C-38, which eradicated core principles of the CEAA process including:
- the importance of public engagement and participation;
- the examination of alternatives;
- assessment of cumulative impacts;
- and a complete review of environmental and socio-economic impacts.
“Today’s report makes many positive recommendations, like the establishment of a public federal government database to house all baseline and monitoring data, as well as the authority by all levels of government to compel expertise from federal scientists, and to retain external scientists to provide technical expertise. Under the current broken system, it is ludicrous to accept at face value scientific data that originates from the very companies who have a biased stake in the outcome of their project assessments.
“I’m encouraged the panel recommends abolishing the failed experiment of sending energy project assessments to a cluster of agencies – such as the National Energy Board and the Canada Nuclear Safety Commission. Neither of these agencies are competent to conduct environmental reviews. The Panel recommends that a single authority have the mandate to conduct and decide upon environmental reviews on behalf of the federal government and that this body should be established as a quasi-judicial tribunal empowered to undertake a full range of facilitation and dispute resolution processes.
“The robust practices promised by the Liberals to incorporate scientific evidence and protect our environment are addressed, as is the need to assess climate change impacts holistically. I note disappointingly that the Harper-era climate targets remain the benchmark for evaluation.
“The Liberals have the opportunity to restore the public’s faith in environmental assessments, and to implement what was promised by Chretien’s 1993 Red Book to establish the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency as more like a CRTC-independent body, capable of conducting assessments.
“I encourage all Canadians to read the Expert Panel report and share their views until May 5, 2017 at LetsTalkEA.ca. I will also make my submission on this report publicly available in the coming weeks.”