Primer on Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) Process

Current Process

  • Triggers to Environmental Assessment:
  1. Federal Money
  2. Federal Land
  3. Law List
  • Kinds of Environmental Assessment:
  1. Screening
  2. Comprehensive Study
  3. Panel – Including Federal-Provincial Joint Panels
  • Content of Review: “environment” means the components of the Earth, and includes

a)      Land, water and air, including all layers of the atmosphere,
b)      All organic and inorganic matter and living organisms, and
c)      The interacting natural systems that include components referred to in paragraphs (as) and (b);

2010 Amendments VIA 2010 Budget Implementation Act

Added confusion by removing all energy projects from CEAA to National Energy Board, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Offshore Petroleum Boards

New Process – Less Certainty/More Confusion

  • Triggers to Environmental Assessment:
  • No EA Federal Money
  • Federal Land – but only assessing impact of federal land itself
  • No Law List
  • Kinds of EA:
  • No More Comprehensive Study
  • Screening
  • Environmental Assessment (Undefined) (p 93 of Budget – “Standard EA”)
  • Panel
  • Federal discretion to pass on reviews if substation is “appropriate”
  • Content of Review:

5(1) For the purposes of this Act, the environmental effects that are to be taken into account in relation to an act or thing, a physical activity, a designated project or a project are

(a)    a change that may be caused  to the following components of the environment that are within the legislative authority of Parliament;

(i)     Fish as defined in section 2 of the Fisheries Act and fish habitat as defined in subsection 34(1) of that Act,

(ii)     Aquatic species as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Species at Risk Act,

(iii)    Migratory birds as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act 1994, and

(iv)     Any other component of the environment that is set out in Schedule 2;

(b)    a change that may be caused to the environment that would occur

(i)     on federal lands,

(ii)    in a province other than the one in which the act or thing is done or where the physical activity, the designated project or the project is being carried out, or

(iii)   outside Canada; and

(c)     with respect to aboriginal peoples, an effect occurring in Canada and any change that may be caused to the environment on

(i)     health and socio-economic conditions,

(ii)    physical and cultural heritage,

(iii)    the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, or 

(iv)    any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance.

S.5(2) Sets out that wherever a federal authority must permit an activity the wider environment can be assessed but only to the extent that this specific permit granted or power exercised directly causes the impact.