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Governments launch Regional Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploratory Drilling

From CEAA
Issued April 15, 2019

The Government of Canada is working to protect the environment, support economic growth, and help create jobs for Canadians. Canadians can count on the government to work with provinces and territories to achieve the sustainable growth we need for a clean economy.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced the launch of the Regional Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploratory Drilling East of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This is the first Regional Assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and has been developed in close collaboration with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. The Regional Assessment seeks to improve the efficiency of the federal environmental assessment process as it applies to offshore oil and gas exploration drilling while ensuring the highest standards of environmental protection. This will also ensure a more predictable and timely regulatory process for future offshore projects and their investors.

The Government of Canada remains committed to the approach outlined in an earlier Consultation Paper on the Regulations Designating Physical Activities (Project List), which would exempt offshore exploratory wells from undergoing a project-specific federal environmental assessment in areas where a regional assessment has been carried out and where the proposed project conforms with the conditions set out in the regional assessment. This will result in more timely consideration of offshore exploration drilling projects while ensuring the environment is protected.

Minister McKenna also announced the appointment of Garth Bangay and Wes Foote as co-chairs of the Committee to carry out the assessment. Gerald Anderson, Keith Storey and Maureen Murphy Rustad have been appointed as committee members.

The Final Agreement to Conduct a Regional Assessment between the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador was informed by feedback from the public, regional experts, and Indigenous peoples. These consultations will continue to remain an important part of the Regional Assessment process.

Quotes

"We are building on our partnership with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to improve and facilitate how we work together to conduct environmental assessments." – The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

"This Regional Assessment is important news for our offshore industry, and for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are working with the province to improve the efficiency of the environmental assessment process for offshore projects, while continuing to maintain the highest standards of environmental protection." – The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services

"By advancing this Regional Assessment the Government is delivering on its commitment to ensure that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore remains internationally competitive. We are also upholding the highest standards for environmental protection." - The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources

"Our government is committed to working collaboratively with our federal partners to ensure responsible development of our oil and gas industry. The Regional Assessment is an important step towards exempting routine, low impact activities, such as exploration wells, where potential impacts and standard mitigations are well known, from federal assessment. This is another step we are taking to achieve the vision we set out in Advance 2030 to benefit all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians." – The Honourable Siobhan Coady, Minister of Natural Resources for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

Quick Facts

  • The Final Agreement to Conduct the Regional Assessment establishes the procedures and timelines for the process, the factors to be considered in the assessment, as well as the Terms of Reference for the Committee.

  • Under the Agreement, the Committee will conduct a study of the effects of existing and anticipated offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling in the region and submit a report to the ministers, which will be made public.

  • There are currently seven ongoing project-specific environmental assessments for exploration drilling offshore of Newfoundland and Labrador which will proceed as planned.

  • The Regional Assessment has been designed to support decision-making under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, should the act come into force.

Associated Links
Backgrounder – Biographies of Committee Members
Regional Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploratory Drilling East of Newfoundland and Labrador (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency)
Impact Assessment Regulations – Project List (Archive)

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