New Canadian Law Removes Federal Oversight From Smaller Projects

Major revisions to Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act have stripped nearly 500 projects of federal oversight in British Columbia alone, including major dam projects, gravel extraction operations, and the sinking of former warships as artificial reefs, according to a news report. The new screening assessments, the latest in a series of initiatives by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration seen as weakening environmental regulation, give an increased role in environmental oversight and enforcement to provinces. Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, a spokesperson for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said that the “numerous small, routine projects”¦ posed little or no risk to the environment.” But Canadian environmental advocates warn that a reduced federal role in monitoring these hundreds of projects will ultimately place the province’s environment, particularly fish habitat, at increased risk. “The cumulative impacts of all the projects that they will no longer review will be great and it will take a few years for Canadians to appreciate that,” said Otto Langer, a former official with the federal fisheries department.