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Overview of Environmental Assessment Process

Do you think the EA process in Ontario would provide a good substitute for the federal EA process, as provided for in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) 2012? Support your answer with specific details comparing and contrasting strengths and weaknesses of the federal vs. Ontario EA process.

The term ‘environmental assessment’ is referred to the process of development and decision-making that assesses the probable ‘environmental effects’ of a proposed assignment or plan. This procedure is obligatory under the Environmental Assessment Act chiefly for public sectors projects as well as strategies. The purpose of the Act is to institute a procedure that further recognizes and determines impending environmental issues prior to the occurrence of actual environmental damage for the welfare of the Ontarians (Kirchhoff et al.). The processes of Environment Assessment are further aimed to recognize the ways to alleviate the negative impacts of environmental plans and further locate substitutes and take in consideration public reviews and concerns prior to any project implementation (White and Noble).. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency controls the federal EA procedures in Canada. The CEAA 2012, further known as Canadian Environmental Act, 2012 facilitates collaboration between the federal government and other authorities in the supply and delivery of improved quality environmental assessments (White and Noble). The Ontario EA is referred as the sole Canadian jurisdiction whereby environmental assessments are generally not obligatory for employment of private-sector plans and projects. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) that governs the regional as well as provincial ES processes (Goulson et al.). The Environmental Assessment Act has been employed to develop several ecological as well as environmental strategy procedures, discourse obligations along with documentary necessities which are purposed to be adequate with the environmental impact of the undertaking that is being projected (Mulvihill et al.). The report will aim to evaluate the use of certain strategies implemented by the Ontario EA process along with providing a brief background and general idea of the EA process in Ontario. Following this, the paper will further explore the substitution of the Federal EA process under CEAA 2102 further analysing the strengths and limitations of Federal and Ontario EA process.

Overview of Ontario Environmental Assessment

The EA Act that is considered to have come into to effect in the1970s administers the environmental assessment procedures in Ontario. The EAA has been employed in order to establish several environmental strategy procedures along with environmental evaluation processes which are further purposed to assess the probable positive and destructive environmental impacts of the anticipated project prior to the commencement of the projects (Bond et al). It is important to note that the Act has immense relevance to public sector projects especially those of regional ministries, institutes and municipalities. The proponents who are not subjugated to the EA act must evaluate the environmental benefits and limitations of their projects in a transparent and expedient manner (Land et al.). Furthermore, the EA program of Ontario is purposed to be anticipatory and defensive in nature, as the exponents are unable to proceed with their proposals without performing comparative evaluation of diversified choices and can further exhibit that their chosen substitutes has been regarded as environmentally advantageous and thus required to concentrate on the started issue or opportunity that has been highlighted in the EA documentation (Odparlik, Lisa and Köppel). At this juncture, the two wide forms of environmental reviews namely comprehensive and streamlined must be taken into consideration. However, these assessments vary in the extent of both the strategy and public discussion activities that the proponents must adhere to along with the participation of the Ministry at the assessment period (Kelly et al.).

The EA Act and Its Relevance

Evolution of Ontario Environmental Assessment Process

The Ontario Environmental Assessment Act since its formation has undergone several transformations to its environmental evaluation procedures. The major modifications and amendments to the Act must be taken into consideration which was purposed for implementing environmental evaluation as less expensive and highly effectual (Lee and George). These modifications imposed time durations for the evaluation of environmental review documentation and formed public review as an authorized requirement further providing the Minister the authority to determine the section of environmental assessment would be subjected to public consideration (Gibson et al.). The regulations conceded during the era of 2000 in regards to administrative obligations and initiatives in particular to the 2001 directive that expanded the scope of the EA Act in order to incorporate private sector power generation as well as transmission assignments administrative obligations and commitments posed in the 1990s to make all power generators and transmitters authorized to similar systems (Jackson et al.). It must further be noted that the 2007 bylaw further lengthened the Act to the capitalist sector waste management proposals and further initiated an effective assessment process for few waste management proposals in particular that achieve certain thresholds.  Following this, the directive introduced in 2008, focused on an improved and more efficient environmental assessment process for every public aided transportation projects regarding to the initiative introduced by government related to MoveOntario 2020 proposal (Kirchhoff and Tsuji). The MoveOntario initiative has been introduced to in order to aid over 50 rapid-transit projects catering the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region by the next 3 years (White and Noble)..

Federal Environmental Assessment Analysis

Certain project proposals such as power supply and generation and transit projects need not only provincial but also federal environmental assessments. The Federal EA are supposedly administered by the Canadian EA Act 2012 (Vosko, Leah and Thomas). It is further noted that both local and federal EA processes dependent on similar key standards. However, the federal environmental assessment is needed for project plans which are particularly identified in a directive under the CEAA 2012 that incorporated pipelines, large collieries that achieve certain generative capacity thresholds, nuclear waste disposal competences along with offshore lubricants and gas services (Turcotte et al.). At this juncture, it is important to consider that the federal act reflects no disparity between public and private segment projects in contradiction to Ontario’s EA Act that further requires a provincial environmental evaluation for administrative projects and two forms of private sector projects such as electricity production and waste management (Richardson et al.). In the federal and central environmental assessment, project proponents review the environmental impact dependent on the entities of environmental conditions that are situated within the central legislative authority such as fish and fish habitation, migrant birds along with federal lands and the impact of Indigenous communities. During the process of provincial environmental assessment, project proprietors are required to examine economic, social along with cultural aspects that influence the community further to affect on the natural environment

Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (EAA)

Substitution of the Federal EA Process under CEAA 2012

In recent times, the Ontario administration has established considerable interest in transient sectoral directives which provisionally exempt the wide range of environmentally vital responsibilities from individual EA necessities (White and Noble).. The Electricity Projection  Regulation can bre sited as an instance for this approach under the EAA, which thereby demarcates varied levels of evaluation for specific public and private power supply projects in Ontario. Relying on petroleum type, competence and potential for important environment impacts this directive identifies the projects that are entirely excused from the EAA, related to a productive Environmental Evaluation Process or remain subjected to the privatized requirements of EA (Gibson et al.). Though the environmental assessment process has been excessively sound and significant, it reflect certain crucial policy gaps, bureaucratic inconsistencies along with governmental directives that are required to guarantee that the EA program continue to remain viable and relevant as the people of Ontario experience certain risks and challenges subject to the 21st century (Vosko, Leah and Thomas). Furthermore, the EA Advisory Panel has identified several areas of weaknesses at establishing a productive and well-established EA program that depends on transparent, comprehensive and consistent regulations. The Ontario Environmental Commissioner recently has identified an immediate need to bring transformations to these areas of limitations. The general directive under the regulation of EAA for several years has excluded a broad range of proponents and responsibilities from being related to EA necessities. However, among several other regulations, this directive exempts a number of provincial agencies, municipal undertakings costing less than $3 million, drainage works, specific waste removal sites along with various accountabilities by conservation authorities and investigation undertakings (Richardson et al.). With the consideration of the public issue and concern over these exclusions, the ministry department of the environment panel have re-evaluated the regulations in order to improve the transparency and further guarantee the overall consistency within the environmental program of Ontario (Vosko, Leah and Thomas). It has been noted that currently, the Ontario government has passed the Transit project work and Greater Toronto Transit Authority Undertaking Regulation under the act of environmental which excludes certain public transport assignments belonging to the EAA and subjects several other transit projects to an effective strategized procedure that is considered as equivalent to the environmental statutory projects. The Ontario EAA have been further subjected to the enduring issues related to regulatory exclusions which are associated by persistent unease about the established Ministry competence of the Environment to successfully supervise monitor proponents’ observance with procedural or substantive necessities reinforced by exemptions. Ontario has consistently provide for public considerations before an autonomous, quasi judicial body in order to evaluate the sufficiency of EA credentials or the suitability of a specific accountability (Kirchhoff and Tsuji). Earlier it has been noted that factors related to public consideration have been formulated under the EAA in association ton increased profile undertakings like highways, landfills, transmission lines along with harmful waste facilities. Few hearings have revealed the withdrawn of several EAA applications, however, the majority of the situations exposed the proposed accountabilities which were provisionally accepted following to due contemplation of the evidences and compliances adduced by the hearing parties (Gibson et al.). Presently, the Ontario EAA has empowered the Ministry of Environment to refer an application for public consideration and judgment. However, despite of these provisions, all other public considerations other than the landfill project plans were been disapproved by the Ministry.

Recent Amendments to Ontario's EAA


The Environmental Commission recently has taken into account the current EA program with the EA procedure that seems to lead unavoidably towards the acceptance of projects that further permits chief judgements to herald the environmental process and further identify the EA terms and policies of reference to exempt significant considerations such as the ‘environmental requirements’ (Vosko, Leah and Thomas).  The Ontario Environmental Commissioner has further bewailed the incompetence of public hearings and considerations under the functioning of EAA. It is must be further taken into consideration the recent reassessment and revision conducted by the Environmental Minister of Ontario that dedicates the Ministry to a number of chief principles including factors related to ecological approach and deliberation of collective environmental impacts. The recent statement of environmental values offer that these ideologies will be replicated in the decisive approaches of the Ministry related to legal, regulatory and policy adherence  Odparlik, Lisa and Köppel). A broad range of responsibilities related to the EAA have been in recent times developed through standard cumulative environmental assessments rather than  individual evaluations. Furthermore, the EA Advisory Panel has raised doubts on the properly supervised cumulative influences of several projects. In addition to this, the Ontario Ministry of Environment also appeared to possess jurisdictional reservations and uncertainties on the cumulative impact assessment required under EAA. Several applications under the EAA have been recently decisive by the Environment Ministry without environment assessment hearings (Kirchhoff and Tsuji). Though the EA panel has provided certain amendments of these directives, they have remained to be consistent at present. This universal concern has been compounded by the governmental administration of Ontario which has been rapidly increasing frequent dependency upon the environmental assessment exemption. However, from the public point of view, the primary concern lied on the exemption that has been utilized in order to prevent comprehensive public awareness, reviews or appeal of technical tools that has been issued without proper public considerations.

Several responsibilities that are subjected to the EAA may necessitate rezoning or official strategy modifications under the Planning Act or may need acceptance under other federal acts which further administer land usage or activities performed upon private and public lands across the regions of Ontario. The necessity to successfully incorporate Ontario’s EA Act with municipal and federal land employment planning authority that has been identified and aided by several investigators and stakeholders since past one decade. Ontario’s Environmental Commission in 2014, has identified certain inadequate integration between EA and the land usage planning process. However recently despite of several concerns, the Ontario EAA has made noteworthy modifications to its assessment framework. Evaluated against the public attention of EAA, the Ontario assessment act witnessed relevant decline have not failed to bring the outcome in a invigorated, rebalanced as well as reconcentrated EA program in Ontario (Kirchhoff and Tsuji). In similar terms these current alterations have not been consequential in implementing strategic assessment of most governmental policies and regulations which further motivate the private undertakings or projects that are subject to the EA act (Odparlik, Lisa and Köppel). Thus, the region requires establishing and quickly utilizing an incorporated environmental reform package that must essentially incorporate the legal and statutory modifications. Furthermore, it can be argued that the EAA has posed potential threats and challenges to reopen the EAA itself at the time of fiscal movement, particularly since legislators may be persuaded to further diminish or eradicate the requirements of EA in order to stimulate economic development. While this challenge have persistent existence, it is quite evident that Ontario’s EA program has managed to remain increasingly substandard to several investigators, proponents and stakeholders and further most significantly the status quo that is unlikely to ascertain the welfare of Ontarians or to safeguard enduring environmental sustainability (Richardson et al.). Thus, even though there are several risks and threats related with the subjecting to the environmental assessment act to transformed legislative debate, thereby appears to be greater threat.

Federal Environmental Assessment


Thus, at this juncture it can be stated that the Federal EA process can pose greater beneficiary factors to the process of Environmental assessment by delivering on its dedication to bring ahead improved rules and regulations for the assessment of major environmental projects. The recent reports have revealed proposed legislature by the federal government to establish proposed legislation that would further develop enhanced rules to safeguard environment, fish and watercourse along with reconstruction of public reliance and trust in the way decisions and judgements can be formed that are related to the development and growth of resource (Mulvihill et al.). However, with such improved bylaws, the citizens of Canada, the Canadian organizations along with the stakeholders can gain assurance and buoyancy to plan projects that would produce effective outcomes and built in a way to increase the welfare of the environment while creating well established employment base and rising the economic level of the country (Kirchhoff et al.). The federal EA process is responsible for suggesting better rules for significant projects that review to increase the environmental welfare (Richardson et al.). Such rules further reflect standards and values that pose vital significance to the people of the country including early, comprehensive and wide-ranging public involvement, country to country and associations with indigenous communities.

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be evaluated from the above discussion that the Ontario Environmental Assessment process still has to develop several amendments in order to substitute the federal environmental assessment process. It has been reviewed that Canada has had always comprised a positive repute within the global arena with regards to its actions on factors related to environmental welfare. The Federal government of Canada has reduced its public services and further abridged the level of expenditure in several areas of governance that incorporated the environment protection services. The paper furthered reviewed the considerable changes implemented by CEAA that further signifies the purpose of the existing Canadian government in order to emphasize on the efforts to increase economic development with more rapid resource utilization at the cost of the environment. The report has effectively examined the Ontario Environmental assessment process by shedding light on the factors which has facilitated to the effective development of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Process whereby it has been noted that the CEAA act has persistent importance to public sector initiatives specifically to the regional ministries, organizations along with federal municipalities. The paper has also reviewed the benefits and limitations of both federal and Ontario environment procedures.

References

Bond, Alan, et al. "Impact assessment: Eroding benefits through streamlining?." Environmental Impact Assessment Review 45 (2014): 46-53.

Gibson, Robert B. "Avoiding sustainability trade-offs in environmental assessment." Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 31.1 (2013): 2-12.

Goulson, Dave. "An overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides." Journal of Applied Ecology 50.4 (2013): 977-987.

Jackson, Togwell A. "Mass-dependent and mass-independent variations in the isotope composition of mercury in a sediment core from Lake Ontario as related to pollution history and biogeochemical processes." Chemical Geology 355 (2013): 88-102.

Kelly, Rebecca A., et al. "Selecting among five common modelling approaches for integrated environmental assessment and management." Environmental modelling & software 47 (2013): 159-181.

Kirchhoff, Denis, and Leonard JS Tsuji. "Reading between the lines of the ‘Responsible Resource Development’rhetoric: the use of omnibus bills to ‘streamline’Canadian environmental legislation." Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 32.2 (2014): 108-120.

Kirchhoff, Denis, Holly L. Gardner, and Leonard JS Tsuji. "The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and associated policy: implications for Aboriginal peoples." International Indigenous Policy Journal 4.3 (2013).

Land, Lorraine, Kleer Olthuis, and L. L. P. Townshend. "Creating the perfect storm for conflicts over aboriginal rights: Critical new developments in the law of aboriginal consultation." Toronto, Ontario: The Commons Institute(2014).

Lee, Norman, and Clive George, eds. Environmental assessment in developing and transitional countries: principles, methods and practice. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Mulvihill, Peter, Mark Winfield, and Jose Etcheverry. "Strategic environmental assessment and advanced renewable energy in Ontario: moving forward or blowing in the wind?." Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management 15.02 (2013): 1340006.

Odparlik, Lisa F., and Johann Köppel. "Access to information and the role of environmental assessment registries for public participation." Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 31.4 (2013): 324-331.

Richardson, Susan D., and Thomas A. Ternes. "Water analysis: emerging contaminants and current issues." Analytical chemistry 86.6 (2014): 2813-2848.

Turcotte, Joseph F., Leslie Nichols, and Lisa Philipps. Maximizing opportunity, mitigating risk: Aligning law, policy and practice to strengthen work-integrated learning in Ontario. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, 2016.

Vosko, Leah F., and Mark Thomas. "Confronting the employment standards enforcement gap: Exploring the potential for union engagement with employment law in Ontario, Canada." Journal of Industrial Relations 56.5 (2014): 631-652.

White, Lisa, and Bram F. Noble. "Strategic environmental assessment for sustainability: A review of a decade of academic research." Environmental Impact Assessment Review 42 (2013): 60-66.

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