Notice: On 1 April 2014, the Government of the Northwest Territories assumed responsibility for the regulation of onshore oil and gas exploration and production work or activities in the Northwest Territory outside of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and the Norman Wells Proven Area and other miscellaneous federal lands. More information can be found on our website under North / Offshore > CER Regulatory Oversight in NWT Post-Devolution.
Most authorizations and approvals for exploration and production activities granted under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act (COGOA) require that an environmental screening or assessment be conducted for the proposed activities. The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) works with northern regulators in preparing the environmental screenings or assessments. Where the proposed project is located determines which process is used in conducting the assessment.
Developments (projects) that are proposed for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region require environmental screening or review under Section 11 of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. An environmental screening is conducted by the Environmental Impact Screening Committee (EISC). Projects may be referred to the Environmental Impact Review Board (EIRB) which carries out environmental impact and public reviews. Projects which are listed in the Impact Assessment Act’s Physical Activities Regulations trigger an Impact Assessment Act assessment. This would include projects proposing the drilling, testing and abandonment of offshore exploratory well(s).
The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) screens proposed developments (projects) in the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA) under Article 12 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to determine whether or not an environmental impact review is required. CER-regulated projects or portions of projects that are located outside of the NSA are assessed by the CER under the Impact Assessment Act, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act or Part 5 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) depending on the location and type of project and whether it is a designated project.
In the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories, typically the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will conduct a preliminary screening under Part 5 of the MVRMA to determine whether an environmental assessment by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (Review Board) is required for a proposed development (project). The subsequent Report of Environmental Assessment may recommend an environmental impact review by a panel of the Review Board.
Proposed designated projects in the federal offshore, as illustrated in the figure below, including areas offshore British Columbia, Hudson and James Bay, Davis Strait beyond the NSA, the parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and parts of the Bay of Fundy are subject to an environmental assessment pursuant to the Impact Assessment Act.
Upon completion of the environmental assessment, proposed projects also undergo an environmental technical review along with other technical reviews depending on the type of program including reviews from safety, engineering, and geoscience disciplines' in the COGOA process.
Environmental Legislation in Frontier Areas
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