Scale of Environmental Assessment
Under BC’s EA law, the EAO Executive Director (or Minister of Environment, where applicable) has discretion on whether to include the following in the scope of the EA review facilities at the main site, off-site facilities and any activities related to the reviewable project.95 Related activities that do not, on their own, trigger an EA may be approved without assessing their environmental, social and cumulative impacts.
BC law does not require all the activities related to a mining project to be included in the EA. Therefore, projects can be narrowly assessed without factoring in the associated and/or cumulative impacts.
Include in EA all activities likely to be undertaken in relation to a proposed mining project
[Tags: EA; Scope; Discretion]
BC has no legal provisions to guide the exercise of the EAO’s discretion in determining the scale of the EA or to require that related activities be included in the assessment process. In contrast, other jurisdictions provide some guidance for decision-makers to ensure that the EA covers the appropriate scope of the proposed activity. For example, US federal law explicitly states that “significance cannot be avoided by terming an action temporary or by breaking it down into small component parts”.96 Under Yukon law, the regulatory authority must include in the scope “in addition to any activity identified in the proposal, any other activity that it considers likely to be undertaken in relation to an activity so identified and sufficiently related to it to be included in the project”.97 The Yukon regulatory authority is also required to “assess as a single project two or more projects for which it has received proposals where it considers that the projects are so closely related as to be part of the same activity or where all the decision bodies for each of the projects have advised it that they consider the projects to be so related”.98 Similarly, under both CEAA and CEAA 2012, the regulatory authority is empowered to consider two closely related projects as a single project.99 Not only is the assessment of related projects in the same EA more efficient, it also allows for the evaluation of cumulative effects (see: Cumulative Effects, below).