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Overview of Environmental Assessment in BC. Presentation to the Professional Economists Association of BC. November 28, 2013. Purpose of the Presentation. Provide an overview of the EA process Discuss key business drivers and priorities. Overview of the EA process.

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slide1

Overview of Environmental Assessment in BC

Presentation to the

Professional Economists Association of BC

November 28, 2013

slide2

Purpose of the Presentation

Provide an overview of the EA process

Discuss key business drivers and priorities

slide4

BC Environmental Assessment Office

Vision: Vibrant communities, healthy

environment and a prosperous economy.

Mission: EAO leads neutral and respected environmental assessment process that is inclusive and transparent, contributing to BC’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

slide5

What is an EA?

  • Comprehensive assessment of a proposed project to identify:
  • potential adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects
  • measures to prevent or reduce adverse effects
  • Results in well-informed and timely decision-making that supports sustainable development
slide6

Common Characteristics of EA Projects

  • Public, First Nations, government, industry interests
  • Plurality of perspectives
  • Complex issues
  • Typically large scale
  • Potential for significant adverse effects in the absence of mitigation measures
slide7

Steps in the EA

  • Step 1: Is an EA required?
    • Three ways: 1) Reviewable Project Regulation, 2) Minister designates a project, or 3) Proponent requests EA.
  • Step 2: What does the EA look like?
    • What are the project components and how will the EA be done?
  • Step 3: What information and studies are required?
    • Identify valued components, studies, and methods, and provide first opportunity for public consultation
  • Step 4: Proponent builds the Application
    • Company gathers the required information, conducts the required studies, and assembles its application
slide8

Steps in the EA

  • Step 5: EAO reviews the Application
    • First legislated timelines:
      • 30 days to determine if Application includes necessary information/analysis;
      • 180 days to review Application and develop an Assessment Report summarizing potential impacts and conclusions
    • Second opportunity for public consultation
  • Step 6: Ministers make a decision
    • Ministers can: 1) issue an EA Certificate, 2) refuse to issue EA Certificate or 3) order further assessment
    • 45-day time limit
slide9

Post Environmental Assessment

  • If EA Certificate issued, then:
    • Project proceeds to permitting
    • Construction of Project
    • Compliance and enforcement by EAO and other provincial agencies (e.g. Ministries, OGC)
slide10

Environmental Assessment (EA)

EAO designs and conducts objective EAs, reaches conclusions, and provides recommendations to Ministers

Decision on EA Certificate is made by Ministers based on conceptual project design

Environmental assessment certificate conditions set framework for project approvals, permits and implementation

PermittingDecisions by agencies based on detailed project design

Project Development Framework

Investigative Permitting

Decisions by agencies based on project proposal

Compliance and Effectiveness Management

Project implementation

slide12

Policy Context: Government Priorities & EA Review

  • BC Jobs Plan – focus on building a strong economy and developing 8 key industries:
    • Agrifoods, forestry, international education, mining, natural gas, technology, tourism, transportation
  • Clear government focus on liquid natural gas (LNG).
  • EAO review under Ministry mandate letter:
    • Review in initial stages.
    • Guiding principles: provide certainty to all participants, maintain integrity of the EA process, focus on continuous improvement.
slide13

Working with the Federal Government

  • The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducts environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
  • In the past there has been duplication and overlap.
  • BC has advocated for more effective and efficient alignment for many years - goal of “one project, one assessment.”
  • CEAA 2012 provides new tools for reducing duplication:
    • Substitution: Canada substitutes BC’s process for its own. Single process, two decisions, and
    • Equivalency: Canada determines BC’s process equivalent to its own. Single process, single decision.
slide14

Focus on Substitution

  • BC is first province in Canada to obtain substitution from Canada (MOU implemented in March 2013).
  • Under substitution, Canada retains substantive aspects of Aboriginal consultation.
  • To date, the federal government has approved all of EAO’s five requests for substitution:
    • Carbon Creek Coal Mine, near Hudson's Hope;
    • Sukunka Coal Mine, near Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge;
    • Echo Hill Coal Mine, near Tumbler Ridge;
    • LNG Canada Export Terminal Project, near Kitimat; and
    • Arctos Anthracite Coal Project, near Iskut.
slide15

Substitution Process

Three Phases:

  • EAO and the Agency work together closely before a substitution decision and immediately thereafter (e.g. determining the scope of the EA; Aboriginal groups to be consulted).
  • Following the Agency’s notice of commencement and notice of substitution decision, EAO will conduct the substituted EA independently, keeping the Agency apprised of key milestones and issues.
  • EAO and the Agency work together closely to finalize the EA and refer to federal and provincial Ministers for decision.

Key benefit: participants engage in a single process.

slide16

EAO LNG Strategies

  • Currently reviewing 10 LNG projects, with more expected to enter ($50 billion + capital investment in LNG alone).
  • Single EAO team dedicated to LNG projects to provide consistency to reviews. About 1/3 of EAO staff.
  • Created a senior level inter-agency LNG Regulatory Working Group to address strategic issues early in the process (air quality, GHG, etc).
  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Oil and Gas Commission to provide a seamless approach to permitting if an environmental assessment certificate is issued.
slide17

Enhancement of Compliance and Enforcement

  • Office of the Auditor General: EAO’s oversight of certified projects was insufficient (July 2011).
  • EAO’s response a top priority: all recommendations have been addressed and completed.
  • Focus has been on building a comprehensive program built on best practices from leading jurisdictions and complements existing expertise in other agencies.
slide18

Compliance and Enforcement

  • Program Goal:
  • EAO is independently and objectively confident that certificate conditions are being met.
  • Key Actions:
  • New, dedicated Compliance and Enforcement team with field presence.
  • Conducted 37 site inspections and 1 audit since 2011/12.
  • Public reporting on compliance, including a compliance website and service plan measures.
  • Focus on measurable and enforceable conditions.
slide19

Paul Craven, Executive Director, Policy and Quality Assurance

Environmental Assessment Office

Phone: (250) 387-6748

Email: Paul.Craven@gov.bc.ca

eao.gov.bc.ca