On April 26, the federal government introduced Bill C-38, the 2012 budget bill. Among other things, it included a proposed new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the central piece of federal environmental impact review legislation that was enacted in 1992. The new act follows on the heels of a statutory review by the federal Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which suggested a number of reforms to streamline the federal environmental assessment process.

The purposes of the act remain substantially unchanged. They include the purpose of ensuring that designated projects that require federal approval are considered “in a careful and precautionary manner to avoid significant adverse environmental effects.” Coordination between provincial and federal environmental assessment authorities has long been an objective of the environmental assessment process…

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