Environmental Assessments

Companies provide information about the environmental effects of a proposed project in their applications to the CER. The Commission reviews these effects, among other things, before making a decision or recommendation to approve or deny an application.

For the environment, such assessments include a review of the proposed project’s effects on:

  • soil, soil productivity, and vegetation
  • wetlands, water quality, and quantity
  • fish, wildlife, and their habitat
  • species at risk or species of special status and related habitat
  • cumulative effects (changes caused by a variety of activities over time in a region)
  • seriousness (or significance) of any remaining effects after mitigation
  • Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and  climate change commitments

Other factors related to socio-economics, such as how Indigenous peoples use the land (traditional ecological knowledge study), should also be considered and are typically included with an environmental assessment.

What we expect

The CER’s Filing Manual and Electricity Filing Manual outline the information the CER requires for environmental assessments filed under the Canadian Energy Regulator Act. Companies are expected to review these filing manuals thoroughly to make sure they understand what we require for a socio-economic and environmental assessment in an application for a proposed project.

This includes:

  • pipeline projects of less than 40 kilometres (km) (They will be reviewed by the CER and go through a full assessment within 300 days.)
  • pipeline projects of 40 km or more, but with less than 75 km of new right-of-way (They will be reviewed by the CER, and go through a full assessment within 450 days, and must be decided by the Governor in Council.)

Large pipeline, offshore renewable, and power line projects that are considered a designated project under the Physical Activities Regulations or the Canadian Energy Regulator Act are reviewed through a single, integrated review with the CER and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and decided by the Governor in Council.  Large projects include pipeline projects with 75 km or more of new right-of-way. To learn more about this type of assessment, visit the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada’s website.

Related documents

Compliance and enforcement

We check to make sure companies are meeting our requirements, from when a company first applies to when a project ends. This may mean us asking for more information or doing an inspection or an audit. For companies that aren’t meeting our standards and requirements, we’ll take steps to enforce them and bring the company back into compliance.

Learn more about how we verify compliance and enforce our requirements.

Condition compliance

The CER checks, through various compliance verification activities, that companies are meeting any conditions that were part of the company’s approval for the project. For example, we have may require a company to submit: environmental protection plans, construction schedules, species-specific studies, mitigation and monitoring documentation, employee training programs and manuals.

Inspections

We also meet with companies on specific environmental concerns, such as wetlands or caribou habitat, especially during construction and when operating. We also evaluate their readiness for emergencies on a regular basis. This helps us identify potential issues before they become problems.

When it comes to the environment, some concerns we may look for include:

  • signs of leaks
  • biosecurity
  • slope movement
  • erosion
  • compaction
  • invasive species
  • effects on wetlands or watercourses
Post-construction monitoring

Companies must file post-construction environmental monitoring reports with the CER.
These reports identify how reclamation is progressing along the right-of-way as well as:

  • any environmental issues caused by construction
  • issues that have been resolved
  • issues that remain unresolved and how the company plans to address them

Federal partners

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