The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has initiated the 20 day public review process required under the Canadian Evironmental Assessment Act, 2012 ("CEAA, 2012") for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project. The project proponent, Prince Ruper Gas Transmission Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Limited), filed its project description on May 21, 2013, commencing the 45 day federal screening process required to screen a designated project and to determine whether a federal environmental assessment is required. The public review process follows the requisite10 day period during which the Agency can request further information not provided in a project description.

The new federal screening provisions were enacted under CEAA, 2012 to further implement the Government of Canada's Responsible Resource Development initiative (briefly described in our previous blog). The key elements of the intiative have been instituted largely under the new CEAA process. In addition to streamlining the time period for federal reviews of major projects, the process also assists in reducing duplication in the review process ("one project, one review"), strengthening environmental protection (using a science-based approach) and enhancing Aboriginal consultation (by coordinating consultation through one agency, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency).

Given the length and diameter of the new facilities (pipeline) being proposed for the project, the project meets the critera established for prescribed reviewable projects under the British Columbia Reviewable Projects Regulation. Therefore, the project will also require a BC Environmental Assessment. Now that the project description has been filed, the BC Environmental Assessment Office may request that the environmental assessment process be substituted in accordance with the BC/Canada MOU on the Substitution of Environmental Assessments (2013).