North America (Change)

Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Bill C-69, which seeks to overhaul the environmental review process for large-scale projects like pipelines and nuclear plants, has become a point of vexation in the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Frustrations in those provinces has been mounting over the failure to increase Canada’s oil pipeline capacity over the past 15 years, kneecapping producers and pummeling prices for Canadian crude oil. Among the amendments obtained by the Post, one aims to reduce the timelines for projects reviewed by an independent panel from 600 days down to 510, satisfying industry demands for shorter review processes. Oil and gas lobby groups have warned that the new process could slow timelines to get major projects built, despite claims by Ottawa that the bill actually shortens the process with its “one project, one review” approach. Many of the proposed amendments aim to limit ministerial powers — a key concern among oil and gas representatives, who argue that higher discretion afforded to the federal environment minister will make the process more uncertain. One amendment would force the environment minister to get written approval from both the federal finance minister and minister of natural resources before a project could be rejected on environmental grounds. That would mark a substantial change from the current legislation, which leaves the decision solely to the environment minister, and would put more power in the hands of the typically more industry-friendly energy ministry.

Senators to consider sweeping package of amendments to controversial Bill C-69, May 7, 2019, www.nationalpost.ca