Thursday, 12 January 2012

Public Review: Saskatchewan Environmental Code

The Saskatchewan government has initiated a public review of a new draft Environmental Code.

The Discussion Document states that the code is a set of legally binding requirements to be followed by anyone conducting activities regulated by legislation that references the code. The first version of the Code has 19 chapters in six areas:
  1. Air quality management (halocarbon control and industrial emissions);
  2. Forest management (forest regeneration assessments, data submission, scaling of forest products, strategic and operational planning);
  3. Greenhouse gas management and reduction (baseline emission level and annual emission reporting);
  4. Hydrostatic testing (upstream oil/gas industry for testing a pipeline before it goes into full operation);
  5. Industrial activities (discharge and discovery reporting, site assessments, corrective action plans, substance designation, and transferring the responsibility of impacted sites); and
  6. Municipal matters (drinking water, sewage works, liquid waste disposal, landfills, litter control).
Results-Based Regulatory Approach
The Code is the first in Canada to employ a results-based regulatory approach. Businesses and municipalities will have the choice of following the proven Acceptable Solutions outlined in the code, or they can develop their own Alternative Solutions, which must be signed off by a qualified person and accepted by the Minister.

The Government believes that this approach will ensure that the environmental performance objectives are constant and can be applied consistently across all sectors while providing the flexibility to take advantage of emerging technology and processes.

The Saskatchewan New Democratic Caucus has expressed concern that self regulation can mean no regulation. NDP Environment critic Buckley Belanger has stated that, “A permit-based system with regulations is in place to help and ensure companies make responsible choices when it comes to our environment," Belanger said on Wednesday. "Scrapping the need for permits could result in permanent damage to our environment before the government even realizes there is a problem."

Public Meetings
Public meetings focusing on specific sectors are scheduled for the following dates:
  • Municipal Sector – January 30, 8 am – 12 noon; Conexus Arts Centre, Regina
  • Forestry Sector – February 2, 8 am – 12 noon; Travelodge, Prince Albert
  • Industrial & Mining Sectors – February 3, 8 am – 12 noon; Saskatoon Inn, Saskatoon

Information Sessions (First Nations & Métis)
Information sessions with First Nations and Métis representatives are planned as follows:
  • January 30, 1  – 4:30 pm; Conexus Arts Centre, Regina
  • February 2, 1 – 4:30 pm; Travelodge, Prince Albert (see Comments)
  • February 3, 1 – 4:30 pm; Saskatoon Inn, Saskatoon

Background Materials
The Ministry of Environment, Government of Saskatchewan website, provides extensive background information:

Comments can be submitted online but must be received by March 16, 2012 to be considered for Version One of the Code.

Note: The information in this article is based on the material provided on the Government website and the information in the Discussion Document.