2002 Environmental Assessment Act, Regulations and Agreements

The Environmental Assessment Act, 2002 and associated regulations and agreements still apply to many projects undergoing an environmental assessment, or that have completed one. For information on project transitions to the 2018 Act, please refer to the Transition FAQs.




Responsible Minister Order

Under the Environmental Assessment Act, 2002 (the Act), two ministers are responsible for making the decision on whether or not to issue an Environmental Assessment Certificate for a project undergoing an environmental assessment. The first is the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The second is the "responsible minister", who is the minister through their cabinet position with responsibility for activities in a sector.

An alternate responsible minister is designated for each of the categories for situations where the organization proposing to build a project is a government agency (for instance, a Crown corporation or a ministry) and the responsible minister is in charge of that government agency.

The following table lists the responsible ministers and alternative responsible ministers for each category of reviewable projects. 

Responsible Ministries
Category of Reviewable Projects Responsible Minister Alternate Responsible Minister
Energy Projects Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Mine Projects Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Industrial Projects Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation
Tourist Destination Resort Projects Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Municipal Affairs
Waste Disposal Projects  Municipal Affairs Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Water Management Projects Municipal Affairs  Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Transportation Projects Transportation and Infrastructure Municipal Affairs

2016 Exemption Regulation

In 2016, a new regulation exempting certain projects from having to obtain an Environmental Assessment Certificate under the Act came into force.

The Exemption Regulation is limited to addressing part of the implications of a recent British Columbia Supreme Court case (Coastal First Nations v. British Columbia). In that case, the court found that while the Act does provide government with the authority to enter into equivalency agreements (such as that with the National Energy Board), the government must still make its own decision at the end of that equivalent process.

For more information, please see the news release.

EAO Fees Overview

The Environmental Assessment Office charges fees for a range of services, from undertaking environmental assessments through to compliance inspections.

The fees provide partial recovery of the costs incurred by the Environmental Assessment Office in delivering high-quality and timely environmental assessments. Revenue from fees allows the organization to maintain appropriate staffing levels. The funding is also used to support other provincial agencies in their participation in the environmental assessment process.

Fee Schedule

Explanation of the various fees associated with environmental assessments and other services.

The Environmental Assessment Fee Regulation

BC Reg 50/2014 was deposited on April 14, 2014, and outlines the various fees of environmental assessments and other services.

Environmental Assessment Fee Guidelines

Guidance and background on the payment of fees as set out in the Environmental Assessment Fee Regulation.


Agreements with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (formerly the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) is the federal counterpart to British Columbia's Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The EAO and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada maintain a strong relationship to ensure projects requiring both federal and provincial environmental assessments are conducted as efficiently as possible.

The following agreements apply to projects being assessed under the Environmental Assessment Act (2002):

These agreements will eventually become irrelevant as projects assessed under the 2002 Act receive decisions, or are transitioned to the new Act, where the more current Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement will apply.

Agreements under Environmental Assessment Act, 1995

The following agreement applied to projects assessed under the Environmental Assessment Act, 1995.

Cooperating on Environmental Assessments

When a project falls under both provincial and federal jurisdiction, the two governments will cooperate on the environmental assessment while retaining their respective decision-making powers. The cooperation options include:

  • Co-ordination, where jurisdictions co-ordinate activities and, where possible, harmonize timelines and documents.
  • Substitution, where the EAO conducts the environmental assessment process on behalf of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, with each jurisdiction making its own decision based on a single assessment report.
  • Joint Review Panel, where jurisdictions jointly appoint panel members and agree on terms of reference for an independent panel to conduct the impact assessment.

Equivalency, where the province may accept an Environmental Assessment undertaken by another jurisdiction, is not a feature of the Impact Assessment Cooperation Agreement, nor the Environmental Assessment Act, 2018.

Additional information about substitution under the 2002 Act

Substituted Projects

The Federal Minister has approved seventeen environmental assessments to be conducted as substituted assessments:


Project Name

Category Status

Aley Mine

Mining Pre-Application 

Arctos Anthracite

Mining Pre-Application

Aurora LNG Digby Island

Energy Withdrawn

Aurora LNG Grassy Point

Energy Withdrawn

Carbon Creek Coal Mine

Mining Withdrawn

Cedar LNG



Delta Grinding Facility

Industrial Pre-Application

Echo Hill Coal

Mining Withdrawn

Grassy Point LNG

Energy Withdrawn

Kemess Underground

Mining Certificate Issued
Kitimat LNG Energy Amendment

LNG Canada Export Terminal

Energy Certificate Issued

Ruddock Creek Mine

Mining Pre-Application

Sukunka Coal Mine

Mining Application Review


Energy Withdrawn

WesPac Tilbury Marine Jetty

Transportation Application Review

Woodfibre LNG

Energy Certificate Issued 

Agreement with the National Energy Board

On June 21, 2010, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and the National Energy Board (NEB) (now the Canada Energy Regulator) entered into an agreement (NEB-EAO Agreement (PDF)) which states the EAO will accept the NEB's environmental assessment of a proposed project (that otherwise would have to be reviewed under the Environmental Assessment Act, 2002) as an equivalent assessment and that the proposed project may proceed without a provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate.

There is also an EAO Fact Sheet on this agreement: EAO/NEB Fact Sheet (PDF).

The following projects are subject to this Agreement. Information about these projects can be found on the Canada Energy Regulator's web site.

  1. Dawson Project 
    Westcoast Energy Inc.
  2. Enbridge Northern Gateway Project
    Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership
  3. Fort Nelson North Gas Processing Facility 
    Westcoast Energy Inc.
  4. Horn River Project 
    Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.
  5. Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project 
    Kinder Morgan Canada

Cooperating with Indigenous nations

Current agreements with Indigenous nations regarding the conduct of environmental assessments include:

Memorandum of Understanding between the EAO and the Oil and Gas Commission regarding reviewable projects

In October, 2013, the EAO and the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the two agencies in fulfilling their respective roles by reducing duplication, improving timeliness and strengthening compliance and enforcement.

Agreements between B.C. and U.S. States with respect to environmental assessments

Additional agreements with other organizations