The Impact Assessment Act, Bill C-69, which governs natural-resource projects in the provinces, is unconstitutional according to a 5-2 ruling from the Supreme Court on Friday.
According to the ruling, the law, given royal assent in 2019, is illegal because it grants federal authorities the power to place projects on hold for reasons that go beyond effects within federal authority.
Bill C-69 replaced the existing regulatory bodies, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, with a new Impact Assessment Agency. The legislation then forced the newly-created regulator to consider impacts like climate change, public health, and the intersection of sex and gender before approving a major energy project.
The law also removed fixed deadlines for approvals, meaning projects could languish in regulatory purgatory for years.
The constitutional challenge of the law, known as the "No More Pipelines Law", was brought forward by the Alberta government in 2021.
A hint of the personal activism of one of the Supreme Court justices bled through in the dissenting opinion of Justice Sheila Greckol, who wrote, “Our planet is on fire, and we need water – not heat.”