Screening Process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012
This document provides guidance on federal environmental assessments commenced under the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. It is retained for the completion of transitional environmental assessments commenced prior to the Impact Assessment Act. For more information on transitional environmental assessments, please consult the Legislation and Regulations page.
This document describes the screening process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) that is used to determine whether an environmental assessment of a proposed project is required for projects identified on the Regulations Designating Physical Activities (Project List).
Authority under CEAA 2012
Under sections 8 to 10 of CEAA 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) must decide, based on a review of a project description and other factors, whether to require an environmental assessment.
Other federal authorities must provide expert advice to the Agency, on request (section 11 of CEAA 2012).
Scope of Application
The Project List identifies types of major projects that may require an environmental assessment under CEAA 2012. These projects have the greatest potential for significant adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction and are called “designated projects.”
The screening process applies to designated projects which are linked to the Agency in the Project List. The process does not apply to designated projects that are assessed by other responsible authorities under CEAA 2012 – the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the National Energy Board (NEB).
Proponents of designated projects must provide the Agency with a project description before construction starts. Designated projects regulated by the CNSC and the NEB automatically require an assessment, so proponents of these projects are not required to submit a project description.
The requirements for preparing a project description are set out in the Prescribed Information for the Description of a Designated Project Regulations. These requirements are elaborated upon in the Agency’s Guide to Preparing a Description of a Designated Project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
Proponents are strongly encouraged to communicate with the Agency when preparing a project description to help ensure requirements of CEAA 2012 and its regulations are understood and met.
The project description provides a brief assessment of the designated project’s interactions with the environment. It is reviewed by the Agency which then makes a decision on whether an environmental assessment is required.
Note: The Minister of the Environment may designate projects not on the Project List if there is potential for adverse environmental effects (section 14 of CEAA 2012) or public concerns about those effects. The process related to the use of this authority is set out in the document: Designating a Project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
Informing the Agency’s Decision
A summary of the proponent’s project description is posted on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Internet Site.
The Agency announces a 20-day comment period for the public to provide information or views about the designated project and its potential adverse environmental effects.
Expert federal departments provide advice to the Agency about the designated project’s potential adverse environmental effects on matters related to their mandate.
The project description is provided to Aboriginal groups so that they can present their views about the designated project’s potential adverse environmental effects and with respect to possible impacts on potential or established Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The Project List identifies types of major projects that have the greatest potential for significant adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction. It is therefore expected that the majority of these designated projects will warrant an environmental assessment.
The adverse environmental effects considered are referred to in section 5 of CEAA 2012 and include effects that are within the legislative authority of Parliament or that could result from a federal decision about the designated project.
In determining whether an environmental assessment is required, the Agency considers matters that include:
- the information provided in the proponent’s project description
- the potential for adverse environmental effects taking into account the views of expert federal departments, Aboriginal groups and the public
- the potential nature and extent of the anticipated adverse environmental effects;
- the location and environmental setting of the project
- the potential for cumulative effects from the project and other existing and proposed activities in the same region
- potential impacts to Aboriginal peoples and to potential and established Aboriginal and Treaty rights
- the ability of regulatory or permitting processes to address potential adverse environmental effects
- the results of any relevant regional study conducted under CEAA2012
Considerations that could lead to a determination that an environmental assessment is not required include:
- the designated project is not likely to cause adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction as set out in section 5 of CEAA 2012
- the adverse effects can be adequately managed through other existing legislative or regulatory mechanisms
Under CEAA 2012, the Agency has 45 calendar days, including the 20-day public comment period, to determine whether an environmental assessment is required.
The Agency’s screening committee reviews the available information and recommends to the Agency’s Vice-President of Operations whether the designated project should undergo an environmental assessment.
The Vice-President of Operations then decides whether an environmental assessment is required.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry (Registry) is intended to facilitate public access to records. Key documents, such as the summary of the project description, are posted on the Registry Internet Site. Other documents are kept in the Registry Project File and may be obtained upon request from the Agency.
The Notice of an Environmental Assessment Determination is posted on the Registry Internet Site, indicating whether an environmental assessment is required.
This document is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) or its regulations. In the event of an inconsistency between this document and CEAA2012 or its regulations, CEAA 2012 or its regulations, as the case may be, would prevail.
Copyright: © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2015
Catalogue number: En106-137/2015E-PDF
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This document has been issued in French under the title: Processus d'examen préalable en vertu de la Loi canadienne sur l'évaluation environnementale (2012)
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