Canada’s new environmental review plan gets a lukewarm reception

Science | AAAS | 2/9/2018 | Staff
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A new plan would change how Canada evaluates proposed development, such as this tar sands mine in Alberta.

Scientists, industry officials, and environmentalists are giving mixed reception to a new plan to revamp how the Canadian government assesses the environmental impacts of development projects.

Plan - Yesterday - Months - Deliberation - Delivers

The plan, released yesterday after 14 months of deliberation, delivers on an election promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party to revisit controversial changes made to Canada’s environmental policies by the previous Conservative Party government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Critics charged that Harper dramatically reduced the number of dams, mines, pipelines and other projects receiving reviews, and weakened the use of scientific evidence in evaluations. Trudeau promised to “restore confidence” in the reviews and “ensure that decisions on major projects are based on science, facts, and evidence.”

In a bid to realize that goal, the Trudeau government yesterday unveiled an Impact Assessment Act that would establish a new government agency to oversee environmental reviews of proposed projects and set new timetables and rules for carrying out assessments. Among other things, the proposal—which will have to be approved by Parliament—calls for increased consultation with Canada’s indigenous groups, expanding reviews to include social, economic and climate impacts, and making greater efforts to explain the kinds of information regulators are using in evaluations. The bill would also shorten timelines for project reviews and potentially alter the number of projects that would receive full reviews.

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Development - People - Rules - Way - Governments

“When it comes to resource development, you can’t get very far if people don’t trust the rules and the way governments make decisions,” Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said in announcing the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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