Cabinet has approved an order-in-council for an exemption regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act to exempt previously approved, and constructed projects from requiring an environmental assessment certificate in response to a recent court ruling.
The regulation was prompted by the recent British Columbia Supreme Court case, Coastal First Nations v. British Columbia. In that case, released in January of this year, the court found that the Environment Assessment Act does not provide government with the authority to dispense with an environmental assessment certificate decision under its equivalency agreement with the National Energy Board.
The new regulation is limited to addressing the implications of the court decision on projects that had already been constructed after being reviewed and approved by the National Energy Board under the equivalency agreement, the established regulatory process at the time. Imposing a post construction requirement on this group of projects would neither be practical nor procedurally fair in these circumstances.
The projects reviewed by the National Energy Board that meet the criteria under the new regulation and will not require an environmental assessment certificate are:
- Spectra South Peace Pipeline;
- Nova Gas Transmission Groundbirch Pipeline;
- Nova Gas Transmission Horn River Mainline Extension;
- Spectra Dawson Gas Plant; and
- Spectra Fort Nelson North Plant.
EAO has begun a process for the projects which are also impacted by the court decision but have not been approved or constructed. These projects include:
Approved Projects – not yet constructed
- North Montney Mainline Pipeline Project; and
- Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.
Projects currently under review
- Trans Mountain Expansion Project; and
- Towerbirch Expansion Project.
Following a process set out by EAO including consultation with Aboriginal groups, ministers will make environmental assessment decisions on these projects according to the act.