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environmental assessment

West Coast reacts to federal marine safety announcement

Monday, November 7, 2016


VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – West Coast Environmental Law Association issued the following statement in response to the federal government’s announcement today regarding new marine safety initiatives:

Ministerial Panel report raises serious questions about Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker project

Thursday, November 3, 2016


VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – A report released today by the Ministerial Panel that conducted recent public meetings on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker proposal must lead to a rejection by Federal Cabinet, say environmental lawyers.

Faith restored? Kinder Morgan Ministerial Panel consultation wraps up

20 October, 2016

The report from the Ministerial Panel on Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline project is expected on November 1, 2016. This report will be considered by Federal Cabinet in its upcoming decision on the project, along with the upstream greenhouse gas analysis, the flawed National Energy Board report, and any further information arising from First Nations consultation.

The process moved quickly and its summer meetings were not without controversy, including allegations of conflict of interest and imposition of a tight timeline without input from or adequate notice to First Nations. The Panel also seemed ill-prepared to deal with the breadth and depth of participants.

What remains to be seen is how the Ministerial Panel will deal with the tens of thousands of messages and questionnaire responses in its final report- much of which it tried to reject arbitrarily. Beyond that, how Prime Minister Trudeau will incorporate all of this information into his decision in December. Will he maintain his position that “only communities grant permission?” Or will he approve the project in the face of strong opposition?

A large crowd gathered inside and outside the Kinder Morgan Summer meetings in Vancouver. Photos: Eugene Kung

A Review of the Review of Reviews: A Participants’ Guide to the Federal EA Review

19 October, 2016

In mid-September, an expert panel appointed by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change (the Panel) launched a public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes (the EA Review). While the Panel and its secretariat have attempted to broadcast how the public and Indigenous groups can participate in the EA Review, many people remain either unaware of it or uncertain whether or how to be involved.

If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place. 

This fall, Canadians are invited to take part in a public review of federal environmental assessment processes.
Photo: Jamie McCaffrey

Expert summit delivers key recommendations for Canada’s environmental assessment overhaul

Thursday, August 25, 2016

For Immediate Release

Environmental lawyers present “12 pillars” of a next-generation environmental assessment regime

OTTAWA – Today West Coast Environmental Law is unveiling the outcomes of a recent summit on environmental assessment in Canada, providing the federal government with clear recommendations on how leading thinking in the field can be applied to establish a next-generation environmental assessment (EA) framework for Canada.

Twelve pillars of a “next generation” of Canadian environmental assessment

25 August, 2016

Canada needs a visionary new approach to assessing proposals that could impact the environment. This August, West Coast published the proceedings of the Federal Environmental Assessment Reform Summit it hosted in Ottawa in May 2016. Attended by over 30 experts from across the country, the Summit explored leading-edge solutions to key issues facing environmental assessment in Canada.  We compiled the key principles that Summit participants reached consensus on into twelve integrated “pillars” of environmental assessment. 

Canada has an opportunity to build a legacy law: a next-generation environmental assessment act that safeguards communities, the environment and democracy.  The government recognized this fact in June 2016 when it announced an independent review of federal environmental assessment (EA) processes.  The four-person expert panel appointed to conduct the review has until January 31, 2017 to do widespread consultations and submit a report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change with its recommendations on how to build a stronger, more credible EA framework for Canada. This visionary framework must be based in meaningful public participation and collaboration with Indigenous governments.  Read up on the groundwork laid by these twelve pillars from the EA Reform Summit.



The jury is out: Canada needs a visionary new approach to assessing proposals that could impact the environment. We have written previously about how Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) regime is broken (here and here, for example).

Environmental review panel ‘cause for optimism,’ lawyers say

Monday, August 15, 2016

Federal government announces four-member panel to review environmental legislation

Lessons from a summer at West Coast

12 August, 2016

West Coast Environmental Law Association was lucky to have four talented students join us this summer from law schools across the country. As the season winds down, our summer law students share their reflections on an exciting few months learning about the ins and outs of environmental law.

From left to right: Alex Kirby, Sina Kazemi, Monisha Sebastian and Brianna Meyer.

How will we build the next generation of environmental assessment for Canada?

14 July, 2016

This June, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that she will establish an independent expert panel to review Canada’s environmental assessment processes under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012), and opened up a 30-day public comment period on the Panel’s draft Terms of Reference. ather than tweak at the edges of a fundamentally broken and outdated system, Canada needs a next-generation environmental assessment law that works for nature and communities, and upholds Canada’s international commitments, including the Paris Agreement and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.



Why navigation protection is also environmental protection

5 July, 2016

The Canadian government has announced that the House Standing Committee on Transportation will soon be starting its review of the Navigation Protection Act.

Unfortunately, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, in announcing the review, downplayed expectations that the government would restore lost environmental protections to a wide range of rivers and endorsed the previous government’s views that the purpose of the act is to protect navigation, and not navigable waters. That’s contrary to what the Liberal Party of Canada promised in the last election.

Canadians who were expecting better protection for the 99% of lakes and rivers that lost their legal protection in 2012 will want to let the government know their views.


The Canadian government has announced that the House Standing Committee on Transportation will soon be starting its review of the Navigation Protection Act.

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