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The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012) and its regulations establish the legislative basis for the federal practice of environmental assessment in most regions of Canada.

The purpose of CEAA 2012 is to:

  • protect components of the environment that are within federal legislative authority from significant adverse environmental effects caused by a designated project;
  • ensure that designated projects are considered and carried out in a careful and precautionary manner when the exercise of a power or performance of a duty or function by a federal authority is required for the project to proceed;
  • promote cooperation and coordination between federal and provincial governments;
  • promote communication and cooperation with Aboriginal peoples;
  • ensure that opportunities are provided for meaningful public participation;
  • ensure that environmental assessments are completed in a timely manner;
  • ensure that projects proposed to be carried out on federal lands and projects that are outside of Canada that the federal government intends to carry out or fund, are considered in a careful and precautionary manner in order to avoid significant adverse environmental effects;
  • encourage federal authorities to take action in a manner that promotes sustainable development; and encourage further studies of the cumulative effects of physical activities in a region and the consideration of the study results in environmental assessments.

For detailed information on CEAA 2012, please refer to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website.

Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessments (EA) support sustainable development by helping eliminate or reduce a project's potential impact on the environment before it begins, and to ensure mitigation measures are applied once the project is initiated.

EA is a process to predict environmental effects of proposed initiatives before they are carried out. An environmental assessment:

  • identifies potential adverse environmental effects;
  • proposes measures to mitigate adverse environmental effects;
  • predicts whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, after mitigation measures are implemented;
  • includes a follow-up program to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures.

EA is a planning and decision-making tool. The objectives of an environmental assessment are to:

  • minimize or avoid adverse environmental effects before they occur; and
  • incorporate environmental factors into decision making.

Environmental Assessment Responsibility

The responsibility for conducting an EA rests with:

  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (for nuclear projects);
  • National Energy Board (for international and interprovincial pipelines and transmission lines); or
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (for all other designated projects).

Designated Projects Requiring an Environmental Assessment

The Regulations Designating Physical Activities identify the physical activities that constitute the "designated projects" that may require an environmental assessment by the Agency or will require an environmental assessment by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or by the National Energy Board.

For complete details on the types of projects that are likely to require an EA because of their potential to cause significant adverse environmental effects, please refer to the Regulations Designating Physical Activities list.

Federal Lands

For projects on federal lands that are not designated projects, CEAA 2012 requires that before federal authorities (which include Western Economic Diversification Canada) make any decision that would allow a project to proceed, they must determine whether a project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Federal authorities will report annually to Parliament on the actions taken to fulfill this obligation. Projects outside Canada that receive federal funding or where the Government of Canada is the proponent are subject to this same standard.

Who can I contact for more information?

For additional information on CEAA 2012, refer to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency website.

You may also contact us at any of our offices by email, telephone, fax or call us at 1-888-338-WEST