The Canadian government has launched a review of its federal environmental and regulatory processes, including the laws that govern how new transmission pipelines are approved.
Canada’s regulatory system is already one of the most rigorous in the world, and pipelines are the safest and most environmentally-friendly way to transport the energy vital to Canadians. While the current approval process has served well in the past, we recognize the public has concerns. Canadians want to know our common interests in safety, environmental protection, climate change and consultations with Indigenous and other impacted communities are all part of the process.
The federal reviews of the following environmental and regulatory processes will help identify opportunities for improvement. These are the main reviews currently underway:
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
- National Energy Board (NEB) modernization
- Navigation Protection Act
- Fisheries Act
Our commitment to the reviews
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) represents Canada’s 12 transmission pipeline companies. We are fully committed to participating and supporting the regulatory review process underway. In fact, we believe that the regulatory review process underway is a critical forum to build public confidence and advance our shared values toward improving Canada’s environmental performance and framework to support investor confidence.
We believe a review of pipeline projects should be a de-politicized process that ensures robust regulatory oversight, that is:
- Science and evidence based
- Efficient, using the capacity of the best placed regulator
- Predictable, with established processes that are consistent across projects
- Coordinated between provincial and federal jurisdictions
- Focused on the relevant issues
- Timely, reaching decisions with known deadlines
- Avoids unnecessary duplication and delays
CEPA’s perspective on each review:
1. Review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), being led by an expert panel
CEPA is committed to robust environmental regulation of the full life cycle of a project. We believe this can be done in a way that aligns with the economic realities driving project approvals, ensuring both timeliness and predictability for project proponents and investors. We also support maintaining a single best-placed regulator, which in the case of pipelines is the NEB, and the principle of “one project, one review” to ensure rigorous and expert oversight of the life cycle.
The current NEB process conducts environmental assessments using facts; science and Indigenous traditional knowledge and traditional land use information and incorporates this knowledge, along with its assessment of potential environmental impacts, into its overall recommendation. As a life cycle regulator, the NEB is well positioned for rigorous environmental assessment follow-up and compliance enforcement, which includes post-approval conditions and a robust program for ongoing inspections and audits.
2. NEB modernization, also led by an expert panel
CEPA supports a de-politicized process that is science and evidence-based, inclusive of transparent discussion on issues such as climate change, Indigenous consultation and environmental impacts. To this end, CEPA is suggesting a new model that introduces an early stage public interest assessment.
This would provide early and clear confirmation to the public and proponents that a project is in the public interest. It would also provide a separation in the approval process between the question of “IF” a pipeline should be built, before there is a technical assessment of “HOW” it should be built. By considering the need for the project (through an assessment of broad economic, social and environmental impacts) before assessing route specific concerns, we are establishing a structure for review that brings clarity and transparency to the process.
3. Parliamentary review of the Navigation Protection Act, led by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation
Most disruptions of waterways from pipelines are temporary in nature during construction. CEPA hopes the review will remain true to the purpose of the Act, which is to protect navigation, and avoid duplication with other agencies whose purpose it is to provide assessments of pipeline crossings.
For more information see: Comments on the Navigation Protection Act review – November 2016 (PDF)
4. Parliamentary review of the Fisheries Act, led by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries
CEPA members have constructed pipelines, including crossing rivers, for decades. The pipeline industry, as well as regulators, have developed a very good understanding of the potential environmental effects of operating in and around fish habitat, as well as confidence in the effectiveness of accepted best practices and standard mitigation for watercourse crossings. CEPA suggests that the focus of the review should be on ensuring the actual protection of fish and fish habitat through the effective implementation of proven mitigation measures.
By improving the regulatory process, we can continue to ensure the energy Canadians count on is delivered in the safest most responsible way.
This page will be updated regularly with CEPA’s positions and submissions as they develop.
Check out these resources on regulatory review processes
Read blog posts and CEPA submissions to learn more about the federal regulatory reviews underway.