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The new environmental assessment process : a sixteen-month status report

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Title: The new environmental assessment process : a sixteen-month status report
Author: Crook, Raymond L.
Issue Date: 2004
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2009-06-09
Series/Report no. British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium 2004
Abstract: Bill 38 – the new Environmental Assessment Act – came into effect on December 30, 2002. The previous Act had set out a single obligatory review procedure for major projects. The primary purpose of the new statute is to provide much greater flexibility to customize review procedures on a project-by-project basis. The increased flexibility is intended to contribute to the government’s strategic priorities for an improved investment climate while preserving high environmental standards. Other objectives of legislative reform include clearer process management accountabilities, increased procedural choice, more certainty and credibility for proponents, reduced agency workloads and government program delivery costs, and improved federal/provincial review harmonization. Most reviews now follow a basic two-stage approach: pre-application stage – focussed on initial consultations to scope the issues and set terms of reference for the proponent’s EA application; and application review stage – review of the proponent’s EA application (the assessment findings), leading to a Ministerial decision on EA certification. During the first 16 months of operation (to late April 2004, when this paper was written), the new process has proven to be more efficient and flexible. There are encouraging signs of shorter overall review durations, although it is too soon to determine effects of the changes with confidence. Experience to date suggests increased proponent confidence in the process, given the number of “opt-ins”. At the same time, public consultation efforts have not diminished under the new process, and through negotiations, a high level of First Nations participation has also been maintained. Joint federal/provincial EA reviews face some harmonization challenges which are now being addressed under the new cooperation agreement. Target cost efficiencies are being met, and the EAO is gearing up for a sustained high volume of project reviews for the next two years.
Affiliation: Applied Science, Faculty of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/8878
Peer Review Status:

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