This was the first regional assessment conducted under the Impact Assessment Act, 2019 or the former legislation, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. The Regional Assessment improves the efficiency of the environmental assessment process as it applies to oil and gas exploration drilling while at the same time ensuring the highest standards of environmental protection continue to be applied and maintained.
A final report for the Regional Assessment was submitted to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada on February 29, 2020. The Regional Assessment focused on the effects of existing and anticipated offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling in the offshore area east of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Regional Assessment builds upon the experience and knowledge gained in assessing previous projects, reduces duplication in processes and information and will result in more efficient project reviews for exploration projects.
On June 4, 2020, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change Canada released a Ministerial Regulation to improve the efficiency of the assessment process for exploratory drilling projects in an area of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore. This Regulation provides that exploration drilling projects are excluded from the requirements to undergo a project-specific federal Impact Assessment if they occur within a specific area of the NL offshore and are compliant with a series of conditions that focus on protecting the environment and ensuring meaningful Indigenous engagement.