Alberta Court of Appeal Rules that Federal Impact Assessment Act is Unconstitutional
Posted in Environmental

On May 10, 2022, the Alberta Court of Appeal handed down its decision on the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act (the “IAA”). The decision, rendered pursuant to a reference to the Court by the Alberta government, held that the IAA and its associated Physical Activities Regulations (the “Regulations”) are unconstitutional as they go beyond the law-making powers of Parliament under the Constitution Act, 1867.

The IAA and Regulations

The IAA was enacted by the federal government in 2019, as part of a suite of legislation aimed at revamping federal environmental laws. The federal Cabinet subsequently enacted the Regulations. The Regulations set out categories of projects and specific thresholds for those projects that would be reviewable under the IAA’s assessment processes.

Included within the list of projects that would be reviewable federally are categories of projects that are located within a province and not clearly within federal regulatory jurisdiction. Those designated projects include mines and metal mills; renewable energy projects; hazardous waste projects; and oil, gas and other fossil fuel projects, including new in situ oil sands projects over a certain production threshold. The decision refers to these types of projects as “intra-provincial projects.”

Please click here to read a detailed overview and analysis of the Alberta Court of Appeal's decision. 


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Lawson Lundell's Environmental, Indigenous and Natural Resources Blog focuses on environmental, indigenous and natural resources law, as well as related litigation. Included are summaries of significant cases from Canadian appellate courts, changes in the legal framework governing resource development including energy and climate change policy, and key decisions from the more influential regulatory bodies in Canada.

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