Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessment is a process used to predict and mitigate the adverse environmental effects of a project before it is carried out.  As such it is a powerful planning tool that provides decision makers with the information they need to ensure the projects they approve are compatible with a healthy, sustainable environment for present and future generations.

Environmental assessment is now part of public decision making at all levels of government in Canada. At the federal level, environmental assessment is governed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is responsible for administering the Act, maintaining a Public Registry of environmental assessments, and providing leadership and coordination of the federal process. 

Under the Act, federal departments, including Environment Canada, are obliged to conduct environmental assessments for projects before taking any actions that enable them to proceed.  Steps include defining the project scope, consulting with the public where appropriate, conducting a study to determine environmental effects, and ensuring mitigation where required.    

Annually, Environment Canada participates in approximately 3000 environmental assessment reviews of projects that vary from small environmental enhancement and scientific study projects to major developments such as oil and gas pipelines, nuclear facilities, mining operations, highways, urban development, landfills and electricity generation. In doing so we are committed to ensuring that both long and short term consequences of these activities do not cause significant impact to the environment.

Guidance document on freshwater thermal discharge