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McKenna to announce new environmental assessment process for resources projects today – Politics

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The federal government will unveil a wide-ranging new approach to Canada’s environmental assessment process today, shaking up how natural resource projects are assessed for their environmental impacts.

The Liberals promised to change controversial rules introduced by the previous Conservative government. After a year and a half of consultation, federal ministers are fanning out across the country to announce the details.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s approach to new rules on how big resource projects will be assessed is “all about no drama, no surprises,” she said.

Her government is expected to announce one single system to study everything from proposed pipelines to mines, ridding the government of the a process which has, until now, been carried out by three agencies.

The federal government is also expected to allow more members of the public to testify at environmental hearings and to fully consult Indigenous people about proposed projects.

The previous Conservative government was harshly criticised for not doing either.

Protecting lakes, rivers

Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc predicts the new environmental assessment process will result in more public confidence.

“Better projects done expeditiously and obviously in a way that doesn’t damage the environment,” he said.

But Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says the key question is how many major projects will assessed under the new rules — and how many will be allowed to fly under the radar.

“If they’ve restricted the number of projects from thousands a year to dozens then they will have kept a lot of what Harper did,” May said.

McKenna will also announce a new approach to protecting the country’s oceans, lakes and rivers. Many have had little to no protection for the last six years.

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