The Green Paper proposes substantial amendments to the current Environmental Authorizations regime in Québec with the intention of simplifying and modernizing the regime. The proposed changes will impact the operation and the carrying out of a project, as well as the services in support of a project. The details of the bill remain to be seen.
In February 2015, the Québec Minister of Environment announced that it will be reviewing the current Environmental Authorizations (EA) regime with the intention of modernizing it. In June, the Minister tabled a green paper before the Québec National Assembly. The actual bill is yet to be introduced.
According to the Minister, there has been no in-depth review of the EA regime since the adoption of theEnvironment Quality Act (EQA) in 1972. The current EA regime includes the Governmental Authorization Regime and the Ministerial Authorizations Regime. The Government Authorization Regime involves projects whose environmental risks are deemed to be high. The permit varies based on the type of project, and ministerial authorizations are still required. The Ministerial Authorizations Regime governs a variety of authorizations that can be issued for a project, such as certificates, attestations, permissions, approvals, permits, etc.
The green paper has 7 orientations:
- Climate Change: The goal is to include the fight against climate change in the EA regime.
- Sustainable Development: The goal is to have a more effective integration of the 16 principles of the QuébecSustainable Development Act in the EA regime.
- Environmental Risk: The goal is to strive to better modulate the environmental authorizations regime in relation to the environmental risk involved, without reducing environmental requirements.
- Transparency and Access to Information: The goal is to increase both the information available about EAs and the opportunities for public involvement in EAs.
- Processing of Authorization Applications: The goal is to simplify the authorization and review process.
- Ministry's Provision of Services and Project Initiators' Responsibilities: The goal is to review Ministry and project initiators' responsibilities.
- Internalize Costs: The goal is to improve the internalization of the EA regime's costs within the Ministry.
The proposed timeline for upcoming legislative steps is as follows:
- Consultations on the Green Paper (Aug. / Sept. 2015)
- Tabling of a Bill in the National Assembly (Fall 2015)
- Implementation of a new EA regime (2016)