PARLIAMENT of CANADA

About the Committee

INTRODUCTION TO THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON
ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

MANDATE

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.

HISTORY

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.

SELECTED STUDIES

Over the past decade, the committee has undertaken a variety of special studies and produced several significant reports. Most recently, the committee completed a study on the safety of hydrocarbon transportation in Canada. In August 2013, the committee released their report entitled Moving Energy Safely: A Study on the Safe Transport of Hydrocarbons by Pipelines, Tankers and Railcars in Canada, which provided 13 recommendations related to energy transport by transmission pipelines, tankers and railcars. 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. Canada’s leading energy thinkers, federal, provincial and territorial representatives, research institutions, industry stakeholders, Aboriginal leaders, environmental groups, concerned citizens and youth delegates provided the committee with invaluable insight into how Canada can leverage its natural resources, technology and human capital to enhance its role in the new world energy order. The committee launched a website dedicated to their study and was the first Canadian parliamentary committee to use the social media tool Twitter as a method to better engage with Canadians about 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.

With the 2007 Speech from the Throne detailing a new northern strategy, the committee focused on the issues for northern environments and cultures affected by climate change. In their report With Respect, Canada’s North, the committee’s view of partnership opportunities between the federal government and northerners was detailed. The committee also investigated issues related to the western Arctic (adaptation to climate change, economic developments such as the Mackenzie River pipeline, sovereignty).

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

Over the past decade, the committee has 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.

CURRENT WORK

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 proceedings. Detailed information on current work of the committee can be found on the parliamentary website at http://senate-senat.ca/enev.asp .

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