Strategic Environmental Assessment on Shale Gas
On March 8, 2011 the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand, released the BAPE report (French) on sustainable development of the shale gas industry in Québec. He also announced that he would immediately follow its main recommendation, that a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) be conducted, by setting up an expert committee to carry out that assessment.
Composition of the SEA Committee
As recommended by the BAPE, the committee charged with conducting the SEA is composed of experts drawn from municipal, governmental, private and university circles. There are also two experts from civil society and a third from an environmental organization. The diversity and complementarity of the skills, experience and expertise of the committee members will contribute directly to the success of the process.
Consult the Committee members’ resumes (French)
Mandate of the Committee
The general mandate of the committee, to be accomplished over a period of 18 to 30 months, is to define the SEA implementation plan and carry out the work stemming from it so as to achieve the objectives set out by the BAPE, which are to produce:
• An economic assessment of the socioeconomic benefits of exploiting the shale gas resource, and of the conditions that would maximize revenue for the government.
• An assessment of the environmental risks and impacts, the factors influencing social acceptability, and appropriate mitigation measures.
• Guidelines and parameters for a regulatory framework for both the environmental assessment of gas exploration and exploitation projects and the execution of such projects, applicable to the St. Lawrence Valley and if possible elsewhere in Québec.
• An assessment of the need for scientific observatories that would acquire knowledge on a continuous basis and ensure that regulations are kept up to date.
In performing its mandate, and within the established budgets and timelines, the committee may also consider any other relevant questions pertaining to the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas resources, as well as their repercussions.
NOTE : Modifications to the SEA Committee mandate
The SEA Committee mandate was modified on February 6th 2013. The Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, Mr. Yves-François Blanchet, announced that he would appoint the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement to conduct an extensive public consultation which will build on the outcome of the Committee’s work.
In order to establish bases for that consultation, the Minister asked the SEA Committee to provide the Ministry with a summary report of all the studies, along with the Committee experts targeted observations. This report has been submitted on January 15th 2014.
In his letter (French), the Minister has also indicated that the oil sector is not covered by the Strategic Environmental Assessment on shale gas.