Bill C-69 was passed by the Senat Thursday evening and now moves forward for royal assent to become law. The federal government is pleased, but environmental groups, the province, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (Noia) are not.
On Friday, Noia CEO Charlene Johnson said in a news release it’s “extremely disappointing” that the association’s concerns weren’t addressed in amendments to the legislation.
The bill overhauling Canada’s environmental assessment legislation has been criticized by the natural resources sector for having potential to slow project assessments, diminish investment in offshore exploration, and limit the province’s involvement in the process.
“Concerns remain for Noia about this legislation, specifically when it comes to joint management of the offshore, short-term activities such as exploration wells remaining on the designated project list, and the ambiguity that remains about process and timelines,” said Johnson.
Johnson said Noia supports the provincial government’s intention for a clause-by-clause review of the legislation and do whatever it takes to protect joint management, adding Noia will continue to advocate for changes to the “poorly crafted legislation.”
Premier Dwight Ball previously said the bill potentially undermines the principles of joint management of offshore resources enshrined within the Atlantic Accord.
Johnson said it’s never too late to make changes. She has previously told The Telegram that when she worked in government she saw changes made to bills at the 11th hour.
“Canada is a natural resource-based economy and Noia strongly feels this economy should be supported by all governments. We have seen the tremendous benefits the development of our natural resources has provided our great country, including public service programs, and if we intend to maintain these standards, our natural resource economy is fundamental.
“Noia encourages all Canadians to let their elected officials know their views on Bill C-69 and request legislation that supports our economy and jobs.”
But Seamus O’Regan, the minister of Indigenous Services and this province’s representative in the federal cabinet, applauded Bill C-69 as a way to fix a broken environmental assessment process.
In a video speech to Noia’s annual conference in St. John’s on Thursday, O’Regan said the current process is marred with “duplication, red tape and sometimes lengthy and costly delays.”
He said this new bill increases the role of the province and the C-NLOPB, and includes “clear and transparent timelines for the review process.”
Meanwhile, many environmental groups have also criticized the legislation for not offering enough protections.
Related letter, page B3