Responsible Resource Development
On June 29, 2012, the Government of Canada’s Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act received Royal Assent. Included in this Bill is the Government’s Responsible Resource Development initiative. Responsible Resource Development establishes a comprehensive plan to support the creation of jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity by streamlining the regulatory regime for major energy and resource projects while strengthening Canada’s world-class protection of the environment for future generations of Canadians.
For the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), this Bill affects four key areas of our work:
- more predictable and timely reviews
- reduced duplication for project reviews
- strengthened environmental protection
- enhanced consultations with Aboriginal groups
A major element of this initiative is the consolidation of responsibility for environmental assessments (EA) with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) for most projects, and with the CNSC and the National Energy Board (NEB) for projects within their mandates. The EA process will be streamlined, focusing resources where they matter most – on major projects that have a greater potential to cause adverse environmental impacts.
The CNSC’s mandate under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act includes regulating nuclear projects to ensure that the environment is protected. The provisions to protect the environment under Responsible Resource Development are not new for the CNSC. Potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures for nuclear projects will continue to be considered as part of the licensing process to ensure there is no unreasonable risk to the environment or to human health and safety.
Timelines for regulatory reviews conducted by the CNSC and decisions from the Commission will also be set in regulations. Timelines will be set for applications for a licence to prepare a site for the construction of a new Class I nuclear facility and to prepare the site and construct a new uranium mine or mill. As a first step in establishing timelines, the CNSC issued a discussion paper for consultation in July 2012.
Under the new provisions of this initiative, the maximum term of temporary Commission members can now be extended from six months to three years. This will align the terms more closely with the expected timelines for regulatory licensing reviews and environmental assessments for major projects.
Responsible Resource Development makes provisions to allow CNSC licence transfers to other qualified parties, providing the conditions of the licence continue to be met.
Protecting the environment from the potential harmful effects of nuclear activities is a key part of the CNSC’s mandate and this will not change with the implementation of these initiatives under Responsible Resource Development. The CNSC will not license projects unless they are safe.
An important part of Responsible Resource Development is the elimination of duplication by better integrating federal and provincial requirements for major economic projects.
Some of the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act would allow the CNSC to assume responsibility for making decisions pursuant to the Fisheries Act, for nuclear projects. This will eliminate the added analysis and duplicative administrative burden encountered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in assessing nuclear projects, given that the CNSC has a broad mandate to assess and decide upon environmental impacts, including impacts to fish.
The proposed legislation will authorize the use of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) for violations of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Designed to address small contraventions quickly so that larger issues do not arise in the future, the proposed penalties could range up to $25,000 for individuals and up to a maximum of $100,000 for companies.
The CNSC’s proposed Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations were published in the February 16, 2013 edition of the Canada Gazette, Part I, in order to provide an opportunity for interested Canadians to review and comment. Consultation on the proposed regulations is now closed. Read about AMPs.
Responsible Resource Development has an entire component dedicated to ensuring consultations with Aboriginal groups are consistent, accountable, meaningful and timely. These measures will ensure that Aboriginal groups are more fully engaged in the environmental assessment and regulatory permitting process from beginning to end, and that possible impacts on their potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights are given due consideration in decision-making.
The CNSC already has a robust Aboriginal consultation process which includes providing support to Aboriginal groups to participation in regulatory public proceedings through the Participant Funding Program.
To view the full content of the Bill, please visit the LegisInfo section of the parliamentary Web site.