Harper government misled Canadians on environmental assessment “delays”: Study

New study confirms government misled public on Environmental Assessment ‘delays’

By: Sierra Club CanadaPress Release

OTTAWA – A study published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences found environmental assessments triggered by the Fisheries Act prior to the 2012 omnibus bill were NOT taking too long to conclude. In fact, most were completed in less time than the new Act requires, proving the government misled Parliament and Canadians.

“Government and industry representatives misled Parliament and lied to Canadians,” said John Bennett Executive Director. “We now have clear evidence there were NO excessive delays and absolutely no need to gut Canada’s environmental protection laws, which took us 35 years to build.”


The length of environmental review in Canada under the Fisheries Act

By Derrick Tupper de Kerckhove, Charles Kenneth Minns & Brian John Shuter
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Published: March 11, 2013
http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/full/10.1139/cjfas-2012-0411For information about the study contact Derrick Tupper de Kerckhove (dak.dekerckhove@utoronto.ca).


There is a common misconception among government officials that environmental regulations are bad for economic growth. Citing economic reasons, the Canadian federal government passed legislation in 2012 restricting the length of environmental reviews of new developments, even though review times were not empirically known. Using annual reports to Parliament from 2001 to 2010, we estimated using time-series analyses that review times under the Fisheries Act conformed to the new government mandated review times prior to major legislative changes to federal environmental oversight. The majority of submissions were processed within 1 year for mitigated impacts and within 2 years for authorized impacts. While it is possible that a minority of projects take longer, there is no evidence of large backlogs in the review process, and Canadian review times appear quicker than those in the United States. We highlight the need for empirical estimates of the costs of environmental regulations before governments enact substantial legislative changes that reduce environmental oversight and offer alternate recommendations for expediting environmental review times.

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