The Role of Science in Contemporary Canadian Environmental Decision Making: The Example of Environmental Assessment
University of British Columbia Law Review, Forthcoming
50 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2019 Last revised: 8 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 3, 2019
In this article, we examine the role of science in Canada’s federal environmental assessment (EA) regime to illustrate opportunities for improvement. We do not address the application of science in EA practices (i.e., how to do good science within EA processes), which has been thoroughly reviewed by others. Instead, we examine the context for science in EA law: we examine the components of a regulatory regime, enshrined by law, that would allow for scientifically defensible assessments and evidence-based decision making. We have four objectives: (1) to provide a recent history of the role(s) of science in Canada’s legislated EA regimes, including public support for science in EA law; (2) to propose five components necessary in an EA regime to ensure strong inclusion of science; (3) to evaluate if new proposed legislation meets scientific standards for modern EA, particularly cumulative effects and climate change; and (4) to encourage collaboration between scholars and practitioners in law and the natural and social sciences to work towards stronger scientific foundations in Canada’s EA regimes at all levels.
Keywords: environmental law, environmental assessment, environmental science
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation