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Oct 17, 2023
‘While this act in some ways oversteps Parliament’s authority, there is broad federal authority to conduct environmental assessments’
OTTAWA – Lawyers working for environmental groups agree with the Liberal government’s position that it need only tweak the contentious Impact Assessment Act, despite the Supreme Court ruling on Friday that the act violated the Constitution by overstepping federal jurisdiction.
“The court has been pretty clear that, while this act in some ways oversteps Parliament’s authority, there is broad federal authority to conduct environmental assessments,” said Anna Johnston, a lawyer with the advocacy group West Coast Environmental Law.
The Alberta government brought a reference case to the court over the law, which critics believed would spell the end of all major project approvals and so dubbed it the “no more pipelines” act. The law attempted to significantly widen Ottawa’s scope for assessing major projects such as pipelines and power plants, including considerations of downstream emissions, climate targets, gender impacts, and Indigenous traditional knowledge.