In a previous post (see August 27, 2014: BC LNG: Environmental Assessment Process for Pipeline Projects), we discussed the Environmental Assessment (EA) process applicable to various pipelines designed to serve the proposed LNG Export Terminals in British Columbia. The following summary provides an update as to the EA status of these projects:
Click here to view table.
The BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) EA process consists of three Stages:
- Pre-Application Stage: no fixed timeline; it will largely be influenced by the time it takes to conduct the necessary field studies and fulfill the Application Information Requirements in order for a project proponent’s EA Application to be accepted as complete by the BC EAO.
- Application Review Stage: 180 days following acceptance by the BC EAO of an EA Application for it to deliver an Assessment Report and Recommendation.
- Decision Stage: 45 days following delivery of the BC EAO Assessment Report and Recommendation.
- Pre-Application Stage:
The Pre-Application Stage is used to ensure that EA Applications contain the information necessary for the BC EAO to actually undertake a project EA and make recommendations. The BC EAO issues Application Information Requirements (“AIR”) which identify the matters that will be considered in the EA and what information must be included in an EA Application. A working group is established and is involved in the development of the AIR. As well, First Nations are consulted. The AIR include baseline studies, project benefits (including socio-economic impacts such as estimated government revenues and contributions to community development), cumulative impacts and proposed mitigation measures and First Nations impacts. Neither the legislation nor the BC EAO impose time restrictions on the Pre-Application Stage, however there is a maximum 30-day limit for the BC EAO to evaluate and determine completeness of an EA Application.
- Application Review Stage:
Following acceptance of an EA Application, the Application Review Stage begins. This involves public comment periods and the drafting by the BC EAO of an Assessment Report to document: (i) the findings of the assessment; (ii) outstanding issues; and (iii) methods to address documented issues. The BC EAO will share its draft Assessment Report with the proponent, the working group and First Nations. The BC EAO typically provides three weeks for comment. As the last step of the Application Review Stage, the BC EAO submits its final Assessment Report, which includes recommendations, to the British Columbia Minister of Environment and the Minister of LNG Development (the “Ministers”) who have authority to decide whether or not to issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate. The BC EAO has a maximum of 180 days following the acceptance of an EA Application to deliver its Assessment Report.
- Decision Stage:
Upon receiving the BC EAO’s Assessment Report, the Ministers have 45 days to make a decision. In doing so, the Ministers must consider the Assessment Report, any documents accompanying it and any other matters they believe are relevant to public interest. If the Ministers issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate, the proposed project may proceed and provincial authorities may issue other necessary project approvals, subject to the satisfaction of approval requirements.