Environmental Law

Section 2: Legislation that Protects the Environment

Environmental Assessment in Alberta

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The various threats to our environment are today one of the chief concerns of scientists and policy makers alike, and the Government of Canada is very much aware of the importance of the problem. As a result, the government has done a good deal more than pass legislation such as the statutes discussed in this lesson. One important statute is the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act ; but over and above legislation like this, the government has begun initiatives designed to improve the physical world we live in.

The EPEA ( Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act ) is not the only Alberta legislation requiring that proposed projects go through a process to determine their potential impacts; see the following examples:

  1. the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act (which deals with the development of natural resources that are not energy related (such as mining and logging).

  2. the Energy Resources Conservation Act (which deals with energy resources like gas and oil)

It is also required that new projects go through an assessment process to ensure, among other things, that the harmful effects to the environment will, at the very least, be justified by the benefits of the development.

The EPEA ( Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act ) is based on a number of principles, most of which should sound familiar to you after learning about the federal government's CEPA (Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. Some of the most important ones are

  • Public participation in environmental protection and public access to information.

  • A process for the environmental assessment of new projects.

  • A requirement that spills be reported and cleaned up.

  • Strict enforcement of environmental regulations.

  • Penalties of up to $1 million for corporations and $100 000 plus two years in jail for individuals.

  • Personal liability of corporate officers and directors for environmental damage (this means that if a company broke the law and did something that damaged the environment, the people in charge of it could be held personally responsible).

Check your knowledge by completing the Self-Assessment Something to Think About 07 on the next page.