Toronto, Ont. – Bill C-69 makes progress in restoring public confidence in Canada’s energy and environmental decision-making process, but the legislation does not go far enough. Without improvements, the federal government’s commitment to bring credibility to the energy project review process is on thin ice.
The commitment to consider climate change, as well as impacts on social and health outcomes, in all energy project reviews is a welcome development. But, it remains unclear how the government would factor a project’s carbon emissions into a final decision. And it’s still uncertain if all high-carbon projects will receive a federal impact assessment, including new in situ tar sands projects.
The creation of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada that administers all assessments and enhances public participation is welcome news. However, the legislation leaves the door open to energy project reviews still being dominated by panel members from the new Canadian Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board). Bill C-69 also grants the industry-hijacked offshore petroleum boards more authority by giving them the power to participate in impact assessments for offshore drilling projects.
Bill C-69 is silent on the creation of a proposed new energy information agency, which is needed to align Canada’s oil and gas demand and supply projections with the country’s climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Environmental Defence applauds the government for its efforts to restore public confidence in the broken energy project review process, for committing to undertake a strategic impact assessment on climate change and for engaging Canadians on how to improve Bill C-69. We look forward to participating in that process. But crucial amendments and regulations will be needed to get there.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.