There has been important fallout from Federal Environmental Assessment ("Federal EA") amendments undertaken in 2012 and 2013. Most notably, the changes have resulted in a reduced number of Federal EAs for projects.
The Regulation lists classes of "designated projects" on as requiring a Federal EA. As a result, some federal decisions, such as Fisheries Act authorizations, no longer trigger a Federal EA.
In fact, projects that do not fall into the "designated projects" description will not require Federal EA unless the Minister decides otherwise.
The effects of this legislative change thus far have been palpable. For example, over 5,000 Federal EAs took place in 2008, but in the past year only 40 projects proceeded through the Federal EA process.
Several important Federal EA issues remain on the horizon because the Northern Gateway Pipeline process continues and various mining projects, such as the Mary River Project in Nunavut, will continue to test the new Federal EA regime. In many instances Aboriginal involvement will also need to be addressed in a more substantial way.