The Deliberative Dimensions of Modern Environmental Assessment Law

43:2 Dalhousie Law Journal, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2020

See all articles by Jocelyn Stacey

Jocelyn Stacey

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 26, 2020


Environmental assessment (EA) is a cornerstone of environmental law. It provides a legal framework for public decision making about major development projects with implications for environmental protection and the rights and title of Indigenous peoples. Despite significant literature supporting deliberation as the preferred mode of engagement with those affected by EA decisions, the specific legal demands of EA legislation remain undeveloped. This article suggests a legal foundation for deliberative environmental assessment. It argues that modern environmental assessment can be understood through three public law frames: procedural fairness, public inquiry, and framework for the duty to consult and accommodate. It further argues that these three public law frames share features of deliberative decision making that can and should inform the implementation and interpretation of new design features in British Columbia and Canada’s reformed EA legislation.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Environmental Assessment, Rule of Law, Deliberative Democracy, Aboriginal Law, Duty to Consult

JEL Classification: K00, K23, K32, Z18

Suggested Citation

Stacey, Jocelyn, The Deliberative Dimensions of Modern Environmental Assessment Law (June 26, 2020). 43:2 Dalhousie Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Jocelyn Stacey (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1

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