DCSIMG

Environmental Assessment Office

EAO's Progress Implementing Auditor General's Recommendations

In July 2011, the Office of the Auditor General released an audit that focused on the Environmental Assessment Office's post-certification monitoring, compliance and enforcement efforts. The audit recommended that the Environmental Assessment Office's oversight of certified projects be enhanced to ensure potential significant adverse effects are avoided or mitigated.

You can read the auditor general's audit report at:
http://www.bcauditor.com/pubs/2011/report4/audit-bc-environmental-assessment-office-EAO

On May 26, 2015, the Office of the Auditor General released a progress report that is available at: http://www.bcauditor.com/sites/default/files/publications/reports/OAGBC_Follow-upReport-EnvironmentalAssessmentOffice-FINAL.pdf

The Environmental Assessment Office has made significant progress implementing all six of the Auditor General's recommendations. A key action was the development of a comprehensive compliance and enforcement program in 2011 based on best practices from other agencies and leading jurisdictions.

More detailed information about the Environmental Assessment Office's Compliance and Enforcement program is available here: http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/compliance.html

In addition to the development and implementation of the Compliance and Enforcement Program, the Environmental Assessment Office has undertaken the following initiatives to meet the recommendations of the Auditor General:
 

Auditor General Recommendation: Environmental Assessment Office Progress: Status of Work:
Ensure commitments are clearly written in a measureable and enforceable manner. Develop draft environmental assessment certificates with input from compliance and enforcement officers.
 
Assess each draft environmental assessment certificate to ensure it is clear, measurable and enforceable.
 
Work with permitting agencies, working groups and technical experts to ensure there are no regulatory gaps, and that overlaps exist only when necessary to avoid significant adverse effects.
 
Added a legally-binding Certified Project Description to environmental assessment certificates to specify the physical components of an approved project.
 
Developing an expanded policy for drafting certificates, conditions and certified project descriptions.
Fully or substantially implemented
Continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to finalize a policy framework that will provide provincial guidance on environmental mitigation. Participated in the development of this policy (led by the Ministry of Environment).
 
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/emop/
Fully or substantially implemented
Clarify the post-certification monitoring responsibilities and compliance mechanisms for each commitment. Working with other agencies to clarify roles and responsibilities for compliance management of certified projects.
 
Developed a May 2012 Letter of Agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to identify roles and responsibilities for inspections of certified projects.
 
Developed an October 2013 Memorandum of Understanding with the Oil and Gas Commission that includes environmental assessment, permitting and compliance-related information.
 
Participating in interagency compliance committees and initiatives to ensure integration with other enforcement agencies.
 
Authorization by the Environmental Assessment Office and other agencies to conduct compliance oversight for each other.
 
Designation of Environmental Assessment Office Compliance Officers as Natural Resource Officers under the Natural Resource Compliance Act, allowing them to enforce a suite of natural resource legislation.
Fully or substantially implemented
Develop and implement a comprehensive compliance and enforcement program that includes an integrated information management system to monitor project progress and ensure compliance. Developed and implemented a Compliance and Enforcement program that undertakes:
  • compliance operations - field and administrative inspections, complaint reviews, investigations, compliance self-report reviews, enforcement, etc. to promote compliance and enforce legally-binding environmental assessment certificates;
  • information sharing, outreach and agreements with partner agencies and Aboriginal groups;
  • contributions to the development of measurable and enforceable certificate conditions and certified project descriptions; and
  • effectiveness management to ensure continuous improvement of environmental assessments and compliance management.
Developed compliance and enforcement policy and procedures that is available here
 
Developed an interim information system to support compliance oversight while developing a system in partnership with other agencies that will track inspections and enable information-sharing with other compliance agencies.
Fully or substantially implemented
Conduct post-certificate evaluations to determine whether environmental assessments are avoiding or mitigating the potentially significant adverse effects of certified projects. Conduct inspections with partner agencies on certified projects to evaluate whether mitigation measures are being implemented as required.
 
Gaining knowledge about the effectiveness of mitigation measures through field and administrative (i.e. desk-based) inspections to inform current and future environmental assessments.
 
Developed a library of conditions and has begun development of standardized conditions for common mitigation measures.
Partially implemented
Provide appropriate accountability information for projects certified through the environmental assessment process. Posted information relating to environmental assessments and post-certificate activities on the website, including compliance self-reports.
 
Expanded the website to include high-level compliance information, with additional information to be published in the future.
 
Posted enforcement actions under the Environmental Assessment Act on the website.
 
Created a compliance and enforcement email address to enable the public, Aboriginal groups and industry to submit complaints and inquire about certified projects.
 
Added contact information on the website to enable the public, Aboriginal groups and industry to easily seek out information relating to specific sectors.
Partially implemented

The Environmental Assessment Office continues to address the recommendations from the audit, including:

  • effectiveness and analysis tracking (taking lessons learned from compliance oversight and feedback from certificate holders and environmental monitors for consideration in future environmental assessments);
  • posting compliance documents on the Environmental Assessment Office's website (e.g.. management plans and reports required by conditions in environmental assessment certificates);
  • development of information-sharing protocols, training and partnerships with First Nations related to compliance oversight;
  • exploring new and updated partnerships with other compliance agencies; and
  • developing an integrated compliance tracking system and procedures.
Letter from the EAO to the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia regarding the posting of inspection reports on the EAO’s website (2017)