On July 6, 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (Act) came into force, replacing the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Act is expected to reduce the number of projects subject to its environmental review process and to establish a more streamlined process for those projects subject to review. Under the Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (Agency) will conduct an initial screening of all proposals for designated projects to determine if an assessment is required (except for designated projects regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or the National Energy Board, which will automatically require an assessment by those regulators). Within 45 days of receiving a proponent’s notice of the proposed project, the Agency will be required to complete the screening. If the Agency finds that an assessment is required, the project will be assessed either under the Act’s standard process or, if the Minister of the Environment believes that a project may cause significant adverse environmental effects, by a review panel. Standard assessments by the Agency must be completed within one year; panel reviews must be completed within two years.  

For further details, please see Torys’ April 2012 Bulletin on the proposed changes and Environment Canada’s summary of the new Act. For further details about the types of projects that will be designated under the Act, please see Environment Canada’s summary of the supporting regulations.