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Part 2: Western Canada Environmental Update

March 3, 2022

With Canada’s environmental laws rapidly changing, staying up to date on legislative changes and potential pitfalls is vital for businesses. From emissions regulations to ESG reporting requirements, the more you know and are prepared, the better you can mitigate risks.

Below are some key updates and reminders on environmental law in Western Canada:

  1. Remediation Costs. The B.C. Court of Appeal’s March 2021 decision in Victory Motors v. Super Save reversed previous case law on the recovery of legal costs related to remediation of contaminated sites under the B.C. Environmental Management Act. As a result, remediation legal costs can now be recovered in full.

  2. Environmental Assessment Act. In the 2019 B.C. Environmental Assessment Act (Act), the B.C. government operationalizes its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Act provides avenues for Indigenous involvement throughout the EA process as a means to attempt to seek consensus with affected Indigenous nations before making certain decisions relating to environmental assessments.

  3. Well Liability. B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan introduced new regulatory changes in 2021 to address the growing number of abandoned wells. In Alberta, Directive 088: Licensee Life-Cycle Management came into effect in December 2021 requiring licensees to meet mandatory closure spend targets beginning in 2022. Saskatchewan will also be implementing mandatory closure spend targets but not until 2023. In B.C., the Dormancy and Shutdown Regulation was amended in December 2020 to expand the classification of dormant sites.

  4. ESG Disclosure. On January 19, 2022, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published guidance for investment fund issuers regarding environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure considerations. This comes in response to the growing interest in ESG investing and potential for “greenwashing.” whereby a fund's ESG disclosure or marketing misleads investors. On October 18, 2021, the CSA published for comments its proposed rules on climate-related disclosure for reporting issuers other than investment funds.

  5. Clean Fuel Standards. The federal government plans to regulate the carbon intensity of fuels pursuant to the forthcoming Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) and associated regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The CFS has been under development since 2017, and draft regulations were published in December 2020, with final regulations targeted for spring 2022.

Have more than five minutes? Contact any member of our Environmental group to learn more. You can also check out our Western Canada environmental webinar and Blakes Bulletin: CSA Publishes Guidance on ESG-Related Investment Fund Disclosure.