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Bute Inlet Project referred to Joint Panel Review
News Release, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, May 13, 2009
Canada’s Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced today that the proposed Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project located about 150 km north of Powell River in British Columbia will undergo an environmental assessment by a federal review panel. The Minister's decision of May 5, 2009, follows a request from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
The federal terms of reference to establish the review panel and the federal-provincial guidelines for the preparation of the environmental impact statement are being issued. The documents were finalized following recent consultations with First Nations and the public.
The Panel’s terms of reference provide information on the scope of the environmental assessment, on the process for conducting the review, as well as further details on the timelines associated with the key steps of the panel review.
The federal-provincial guidelines provide direction to the proponent and identify the information that will be required in the environmental impact statement—the key document which will outline the details of the project, its anticipated effects on the environment and the proposed measures to
reduce these environmental effects.
The federal environmental assessment process will be coordinated to the extent possible with the provincial process in order to minimize duplication and increase efficiency and effectiveness.
The Agency will make funding available to assist First Nations and the public to participate in the environmental assessment process. Availability of participant funding will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Panel’s terms of reference and the guidelines, along with more information on the project is available on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry Internet site at www.ceaaacee.gc.ca, reference number 09-03-44825.
To obtain information on the review process, or to register as an interested party and be kept informed of the developments of the environmental review, call 1-866-582-1884 or provide a mailing or e-mail address to the attention of:
Panel Manager, Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor, Ottawa ON K1A 0H3
The next steps in the review process include:
- Announcement of the availability of participant funding: May 2009
- Appointment of panel members by Minister of the Environment: end of Summer 2009
- Submission of the Environmental Impact Statement by the proponent: Fall 2009
All documents related to this environmental assessment can be viewed on the project public registry at the following link:
From the Panel Terms of Reference:
Preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement
It is expected that the proponent will submit the EIS to the Environmental Assessment Office on or around September 30, 2009. The Environmental Assessment Office will undertake a 30 day screening of the EIS against the EIS guidelines. Once the Environmental Assessment Office determines that the EIS meets the requirements of British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Act, the proponent will submit the EIS to the panel. The proponent will notify the panel of any deviation from the schedule at least 30 days prior to the submission date of the EIS to the Environmental Assessment Office.
Review of the Environmental Impact Statement
Once submitted to the panel, the EIS will be placed on the public registry, and will be made available for public review and comment for a period of no less than 60 days. Comments on the adequacy of the EIS as measured against the EIS guidelines and on the technical merit of the information should be provided to the panel in writing.
Within 30 days of completion of the public review of the EIS, the panel, taking into consideration the comments received and its own review of the EIS, will determine if the EIS contains sufficient information to proceed to public hearing.
If the panel determines that the EIS contains sufficient information to proceed to public hearing, it will schedule and announce the hearing in accordance with the procedures set out in these Terms of Reference.
If the panel determines that there are significant information deficiencies, such that the EIS is not sufficient to proceed to public hearing, the panel will issue a deficiency statement requesting additional information which the proponent will provide. At the same time the panel will place the deficiency statement on the public registry and make it available to the public.
Determination of the Adequacy of Additional Information
Upon receipt of the additional information, the panel will ensure that it is made available to the public for review and comment.
Upon completion of the public review of the additional information, the panel, taking into consideration the comments received and its own review of the additional information, will determine within 45 days of receipt of the additional information, if the EIS, supplemented by the additional information, is sufficient to proceed to public hearing. The procedures described above will apply until such time as the panel determines that the EIS contains sufficient information to proceed to public hearing.
Once the panel determines that the EIS contains sufficient information to proceed to public hearing, it will schedule and announce the public hearing. The public hearing will begin no earlier than 45 days after the schedule is announced. The panel will issue detailed procedures for the conduct of the public hearing. The public hearing will provide the proponent, responsible authorities, Aboriginal groups and members of the public an opportunity to present their views on the project. The public hearing will be conducted in a manner that ensures a comprehensive examination of matters relevant to the panel’s Terms of Reference and in particular the examination of technical evidence. The public hearing will be held in the communities most affected by the proposed project. The panel will use its best efforts to complete the public hearing within 30 days.
Following the completion of the public hearing, the panel will prepare a report which will include a description of the panel review process, the rationale, conclusions and recommendations of the panel relating to the environmental assessment of the project, including any mitigation measures and follow-up programs. The panel shall also include within its report a summary of any comments received from the public and Aboriginal groups.
Once completed, the panel report will be submitted to the Minister of the Environment and the responsible authorities and will be made available to the public.
The panel will submit its report within 90 days following the completion of the public hearing.