OTTAWA, O.N. – The federal government’s promised overhaul of environmental evaluations for energy projects could get major surgery before the Senate is finished with it.
Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, fulfils a Liberal campaign promise to change how major energy projects get reviewed for their environmental, social and economic effects, with the aim of speeding reviews up and making their criteria clearer.
Senators have received nearly 50,000 letters urging them to either kill the bill outright or agree to major changes on everything from timelines for the reviews to who gets to be heard during a specific review.
The bill was already amended 136 times in the House of Commons but faces at least as many amendments in Parliament’s upper chamber with independent and Conservative senators indicating a desire for some pretty significant changes.
Sen. Grant Mitchell, the independent Liberal senator who sponsored the bill in Senate, says he and the government are open to changes but that it is clear to him the industry does not want the bill to be killed.
The Senate committee dealing with the bill decided this week to hold more meetings on it outside Ottawa but Mitchell said he is confident the bill will be amended and signed into law before Parliament rises for the summer.