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Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
The Senate of Canada
Canada, K1A 0A4
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INTRODUCTION TO THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON
ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has the mandate to examine legislation and to study issues related to energy, the environment and natural resources generally, including:
- mines and natural resources, other than fisheries and forestry;
- pipelines, transmission lines and energy transportation;
- environmental affairs; and
- other energy-related matters.
The Rules of the Senate were first amended to provide for a standing committee dealing exclusively with these broad subject areas on December 9, 1982, with the committee actually beginning operation during the Second Session of the Thirty-second Parliament (1983-1984).
Originally called the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the committee's name was changed to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources less than one year later, on October 25, 1983. Subsequently, the committee's name was again modified, this time to include reference to the environment, on June 15, 1991. Prior to the establishment of the current committee, the Senate had, from 1946 to 1968, a committee on Natural Resources.
Over the past decade, the committee has undertaken a variety of special studies and produced several significant reports. In recent years, the committee undertook a special study on the effects of the transition to a low-carbon economy. As part of this study, the committee released five interim reports on five sectors of the Canadian economy: electricity, transportation, emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries, oil and gas and buildings. The committee also travelled across Canada as part of this study.
In 2013, the committee also completed a study on the safety of hydrocarbon transportation in Canada and over a three year period, from 2009-2012, the committee conducted hearings and held fact-finding meetings, both in Ottawa and across the country, in an effort to promote a national discussion on Canada’s energy future. The report Now or Never highlighted 13 priorities for action to achieve long-term and affordable energy solutions, addressing the challenges and opportunities of responsible development and energy efficiency.
Following the explosion of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon on April 20th, 2010, the committee held hearings and made recommendations about the status of Canada’s offshore oil and gas exploration and development industry, including the nature of the applicable regulatory regime(s) and Canada’s offshore disaster response capability.
In the area of environmental protection, the committee conducted a review of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. It then tabled a report which included four important recommendations to the federal government. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) RX: Strengthen and Apply Diligently, summarized the committee’s detailed review of the Act by way of two case studies, to help determine how well the Act protected Canadian citizens and the environment.
In addition to these selected studies, the committee has a long history of examining various energy and environment issues such as: nuclear safety, sustainable development, environmental protection, and the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
SELECTED LEGISLATIVE WORK
During the Second Session of the 43rd Parliament, the committee completed a review of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Offshore Health and Safety Act and presented its report in February 2021 with amendments and observations. The committee also conducted a pre-study of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 and tabled its report with several observations in June 2021.
Between February and May 2019, the committee also completed its review of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Board Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. As part of this study, the committee held public hearings across the country. The committee presented its report with 188 proposed amendments on May 28, 2019.
Over the past decade, the committee has also studied bills which covered a wide variety of subjects such as: federal sustainable development, the environment, Canada’s National Parks, the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water), the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, navigable waters, migratory birds, wildlife species at risk, hazardous products, nuclear fuel waste and national marine conservation areas, to name a few.
For information on the current work of the committee, you may wish to review the orders of reference the committee has received from the Senate or review the committee’s proceedings. Detailed information on current work of the committee can be found on the parliamentary website at https://sencanada.ca/en/committees/enev.