The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is the legal basis for the federal environmental assessment (EA) process. CEAA came into force in 1995. Legislative amendments were introduced in 2001 and came into force on October 30, 2003.
CEAA and its associated regulations outline the responsibilities, requirements and procedures for the environmental assessment of projects and establish a process for assessing the potential environmental effects of projects in which the Government of Canada has a decision-making responsibility.
EA is defined as a planning tool to identify, understand, assess and mitigate, where possible, the environmental effects of a project. Under CEAA, NRCan is required to undertake an EA for projects relating to a physical work and for any proposed physical activity listed in the Inclusion List Regulations where it exercises one or more of the following CEAA triggers:
- Proposes or undertakes a project
- Grants money or any other form of financial assistance to a project
- Grants an interest in the land to enable a project to be carried out
- Exercises a regulatory duty in relation to a project, such as issuing a permit or licence that is included in the Law List Regulations.
If NRCan exercises one or more of the above-mentioned triggers, it becomes a Responsible Authority (RA) under CEAA. As an RA, NRCan must ensure that an EA is carried out in accordance with CEAA and must consider the EA findings before a decision is made that will allow the project to proceed.
A list of NRCan’s EAs is available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry.