Frequently Asked Questions - Working Together a Provincial Approach
They are not exclusive but they do meet different needs on different scales.
The Environmental Assessment Office ensures proposed major projects meet provincial environmental, economic and social goals, and the interests and concerns of B.C.’s families, businesses, communities and First Nations are considered in each assessment. The Environmental Assessment Office evaluates proposed projects that are reviewable under the Environmental Assessment Act for potential adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects and verifies and enforces compliance with the conditions of environmental assessment certificates. The projects subject to review are generally those with a higher potential for adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage or health effects.
The ABA framework was developed to be an ongoing component of permitting decisions within the Commission; it had to be implementable so that the concerns about cumulative effects could be more readily addressed. Adjustments in current permitting/authorization processes, additional data and new GIS (Geographic Information System) tools were required, and the stakeholder consultation critical to implementation success was needed.
ABA is designed to be adaptable so that when changes to legislation/policy are introduced, or existing values/objectives are modified, the Commission can easily introduce the changes to a system that is operating, and understood, accepted and supported by all involved. New additional environmental / cultural considerations can be added to the analysis when they are identified and provided sufficient spatial data exists and can be incorporated.
The Oil and Gas Commission’s Area-based Analysis (ABA) approach supports B.C.’s legal framework that manages values.
The Commission and the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) have been collaborating on the development of ABA and the Northeast Cumulative Effects Assessment and Management (CEAM) demonstration project.
Both are a values-based approach to assessing and managing the cumulative effects of activity. Both ABA and CEAM supplement a comprehensive suite of natural resource policy and legislative tools that are in place to address cumulative effects in B.C.
These policy and legislative tools in turn provide a legal framework to proactively and comprehensively manage the cumulative impacts of development by multiple resources within the same region.
This encompassing system, or legal framework, includes:
- Resource-focused legislation/policy providing both strategic and operational guidance for resource extraction, management and environmental protection.
- Specific legislation to assess the cumulative effects of proposed major projects that have potential impacts over and above the resource-focused legislation.
- A comprehensive land use and resource management planning system implemented over the majority of B.C.
- Province-wide stewardship staff focused on monitoring the condition of the environment.
- Formal engagement processes, formal consultation procedures and government-to-government agreements between First Nations Communities, the Government and the many ministries and agencies involved in the management of natural resources.
ABA and CEAM assist this system to achieve a more consistent and coordinated approach to cumulative effects assessment and management across the natural resource sector. They address the issue of multiple agencies permitting activities that impact the same values on the same land base.
The Commission and the FLNRO are developing one database to ensure consistency between both initiatives. ABA will be used as part of the Commission’s permitting and authorization process to assess the impact of proposed oil and gas activities considering the cumulative effects of all development activity.