The latest news from Erin & Stapleton Environmental Consulting Inc.
I received a letter from Paula Sheppard, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) notifying me that I have been nominated for NLOWE's 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year awards. I am honoured to be nominated, and grateful for the support of the NLOWE community.
Erin has been nominated for the One to Watch Award.
I'm determined to help shape our energy future - one that harnesses the power of our wind and ocean energy resources.
The new Canadian Energy Regulator Act (CER Act) forms part of Bill C-69, which had its first reading in the House of Commons on February 8, 2018. The Act, among other things, provides for the regulation of renewable energy projects and power lines in Canada’s offshore. The Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) will be the regulatory body responsible for offshore wind development. I've highlighted some key elements of the CER Act as it pertains to offshore wind development:
Section 2, Definitions
offshore renewable energy project means any of the following that are carried on in the offshore area:
(a) any research or assessment conducted in relation to the exploitation or potential exploitation of a renewable resource to produce energy;
(b) any exploitation of a renewable resource to produce energy;
(c) any storage of energy produced from a renewable resource; or
(d) any transmission of such energy, other than the transmission of electricity to a province or a place outside Canada.
Section 57, Involvement of Indigenous peoples of Canada
The Regulator may establish committees or programs for the purpose of enhancing the involvement of the Indigenous peoples of Canada and Indigenous organizations in respect of pipelines, power lines and offshore renewable energy projects as well as abandoned pipelines.
Part 5: Offshore Renewable Energy Projects and Offshore Power Lines:
Section 298 (2) Contents of application
An application must include any information that may be required by the Regulator, or prescribed by regulation, with respect to the proposed work or activity and to the offshore renewable energy project or offshore power line, including information with respect to any facility, equipment, system or vessel related to the project or power line.
Section 298 (3) Factors to consider
In determining whether to issue an authorization, the Commission must take into account — in light of, among other things, any traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada that has been provided to the Commission and scientific information and data — all considerations that appear to it to be relevant and directly related to the offshore renewable energy project or offshore power line, including
(a) the environmental effects, including any cumulative environmental effects;
(b) the safety and security of persons and the protection of property and the environment;
(c) the health, social and economic effects, including with respect to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors;
(d) the interests and concerns of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, including with respect to their current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes;
(e) the effects on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
(f) environmental agreements entered into by the Government of Canada; and
(g) any relevant assessment referred to in section 92, 93 or 95 of the Impact Assessment Act.
A note on impact assessment: New energy projects requiring an impact assessment would undergo a single, integrated process, carried out jointly by the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the new CER. In other words, “One project, one assessment.” See my previous post on some highlights from the new Impact Assessment Act, including timelines, substitution, and Indigenous engagement.
Section 298 (4) Shorter timelines
For projects that are not subject to the new Impact Assessment Act, legislated timelines would be reduced from 450 days to 300 days.
The Government of Canada has compiled The New Canadian Energy Regulator Handbook to assist Canadians in understanding the role of the new regulator.
Final thought: While the legislation enables offshore wind development, regulations and policies have to be developed (federally and provincially) before we have a complete framework for offshore wind development in Canada.
The new Impact Assessment Act forms part of Bill C-69, which had its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday (February 8, 2018). While not an extensive review, I've summarized some initial observations.
Factors to be considered. Note: Indigenous knowledge, sustainability and climate change, Section 22
g) traditional knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada provided with respect to the designated project;
(h) the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability;
(i) the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change;
(j) any change to the designated project that may be caused by the environment;
(k) the requirements of the follow-up program in respect of the designated project;
(l) considerations related to Indigenous cultures raised with respect to the designated project;
(m) community knowledge provided with respect to the designated project.
Time limits somewhat shorter, Sections 28 and 37
Agency reviews are 300 days, review panels have 600 days. As before, timelines can be extended at minister’s discretion.
Substitution, Section 33
Substitution is possible at Minister’s discretion, but must satisfy several conditions including:
d) the process to be substituted will include consultations with any Indigenous group that may be affected by the carrying out of the designated project;
(e) the public will be given an opportunity to participate in the assessment and to provide comments on a draft report;
(f) the public will have access to records in relation to the assessment to enable its meaningful participation;
(g) at the end of the assessment, a report will be submitted to the Minister;
(h) the report will be made available to the public
What constitutes “public interest”, Section 63
(a) the extent to which the designated project contributes to sustainability;
(d) the impact that the designated project may have on any Indigenous group and any adverse impact that the designated project may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982; and
(e) the extent to which the effects of the designated project hinder or contribute to the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change.
Regional and strategic assessments remain discretionary, Section 92-103.
Early planning (see: The proposed new system)
Prior to submission of the Impact Statement, there is an "early planning" phase that can take up to 180 days. This is engaging the public and Indigenous communities earlier in the process than was previously required under CEAA 2012.
Consultation is now underway on the impact assessment regulations. Open until April 15, 2018 at: https://www.impactassessmentregulations.ca/
Erin spoke with Kenneth Oliver of The Telegram following a workshop on supply chain and energy markets for offshore wind in Atlantic Canada. Erin hosted the event, which was organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association and Marine Renewables Canada. The workshop also featured her colleague, Alan Duncan, of Scotia Supply Chain in Scotland, who spoke to syngergies between offshore oil and gas and offshore wind. While there are challenges to developing the sector in Newfoundland and Labrador, Erin says "it's encouraging to see Ottawa take a stance and seriously consider and endorse other renewables and not just hydroelectric." Read the full article here.
Still reflecting on my experience last week at the Marine Renewables Canada conference in Ottawa. I was pleased to be invited to join the offshore wind panel with Sunny Gupta of Ørsted, Ross Tyler of Business Network for Offshore Wind, John Pires of Northland Power Inc. and Dr. Bryson Robertson of University of Victoria. It was encouraging to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Kim Rudd, speak to the federal government's support of marine renewable energy, including offshore wind. The new "emerging renewables" program will provide federal funds to support deployment of renewables, including offshore wind. Interest in the sector is growing and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!
Offshore wind energy in Newfoundland and Labrador has been getting a lot of coverage in the local media these last few weeks. I was pleased to add to the conversation, speaking to NTV News about the supply chain study I completed for the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association.
Our province has the ability to participate in the supply chain, largely due to our expertise in offshore oil and gas, but we need to be strategic. Being proactive is important so that we can be ready if this sector takes off - "first-in" will benefit most. But we also need to spend time filling the "knowledge gap" so that we can make informed decisions.
I look forward to more discussions with developers, local businesses, governments, and communities as we explore the potential opportunities for our province in offshore wind. See the segment at 32:00 at http://bit.ly/2vEs3fm.
One of my core values is giving back to the community through volunteerism and leadership.
I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed to the City of St. John’s Local Board of Appeal and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council. I look forward to working with my colleagues in serving our city and our province.
About the St. John’s Local Appeal Board
The St. John’s Local Board of Appeal is comprised of five individuals who have been appointed for a three-year term by the St. John’s Municipal Council. The Appeal Board is a body to which appeals can be made regarding decisions made by the City under the St. John’s Development Regulations with respect to: an application to undertake a development; a revocation of an approval or a permit to undertake a development; the issuance of a Stop Work Order pursuant to the Development Regulations; or a decision permitted under the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000.
About the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council
The Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council (WERAC) was created to advise the government on the creation and management of wilderness and ecological reserves. WERAC’s vision is the conservation and preservation of natural landscapes and seascapes in Newfoundland and Labrador for current and future generations through the timely establishment of a functioning network of protected areas throughout the province. Using an open and consultative process, WERAC accepts the following values: transparency, accountability, responsibility, stewardship of our natural heritage, and appreciation of our natural heritage.
Read the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador News Release here.
Over the past months, the Government of Canada has been reviewing our federal environmental and regulatory processes. An expert panel was selected to review the environmental assessment process, and standing committees were appointed to review the National Energy Board Act, Navigation Protection Act and the Fisheries Act.
The input of all stakeholders, no matter if we agree or disagree, is important if this new approach is to be balanced and effective.
The Government has now released a discussion paper to outline a new approach to environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and is asking for our feedback by August 28. The report largely focuses on a new project assessment system, and touches on considerations for modernizing the National Energy Board, restoring lost protections to the Navigation Protection Act, and the enhancing protection for fish and fish habitat under the Fisheries Act.
As I’ve said before, my opinion as an impact assessment practitioner is only one perspective. The input of all stakeholders, no matter if we agree or disagree, is important if this new approach is to be balanced and effective.
I’ve summarized the project assessment section below, and encourage you to review the entire discussion paper and submit your comments online by August 28.