Process for Proposing and Considering Changes to the National Pollutant Release Inventory
4. The Stakeholder Consultation Process
4.1 Who We Consult With
The NPRI’s Consultation and Engagement Framework outlines the various ways in which the program interacts with stakeholders and users of NPRI data. The NPRI Multi-Stakeholder Work Group is the primary consultative body for the NPRI. It is chaired and coordinated by ECCC, and includes representatives from industry, environmental organizations, and Aboriginal organizations. In addition, consultation documents are shared with the proponents of the change and made available through the ECCC website to allow comments from the general public. ECCC also consults with other federal government organizations (in particular Health Canada) and other Canadian governments (in particular those with pollutant reporting initiatives) on changes to the NPRI that are relevant.
A general summary of the process for change proposals is provided below. This process does not limit ECCC's authority and responsibility to make timely and appropriate changes or decisions regarding the administration of the NPRI program.
1. Receipt of Proposal – ECCC receives proposal, and returns an acknowledgment of receipt to the proponent.
2. Preliminary Review – ECCC does a preliminary review of the rationale provided in the proposal and determines how ECCC intends to proceed. In the case of an incomplete proposal, ECCC may decide to return the proposal to the proponent for completion and resubmission before determining how to proceed, or to refer the proposal to consultations as submitted (in which case ECCC, with assistance of stakeholders as needed, will work to complete any gaps during the consultation process):
- Referral – A proposal may be referred to the stakeholder consultation process as outlined below.
- Rejection – A proposal may be rejected, without referral to the full stakeholder consultation process, in the case of changes that clearly do not meet the decision factors or criteria for modifying the NPRI.
- Acceptance – A proposal may be accepted, without referral to the full stakeholder consultation process, in the case of administrative or minor changes (e.g., substance name changes that do not change the substance definition).
- Deferral – A determination of how ECCC intends to proceed (i.e. referral, rejection or acceptance) may be deferred in times of high volume or in cases of incomplete submissions and/or pending additional information or resources from the proponent or others.
3. Notification of Preliminary Review – For transparency, the proposal and the determination of how ECCC intends to proceed is sent to the NPRI Multi-Stakeholder Work Group and communicated to the proponent and publicly through the ECCC website. These intentions are considered final if no new information is presented that may change how ECCC intends to proceed. If new information is received, preliminary review is re-opened.
4. Early Engagement – If the proposal is being referred to the stakeholder consultation process, early engagement begins. The purpose of early engagement is to engage stakeholders early in the process so that their input and/or additional information on the issues raised in the proposals can be considered by ECCC prior to developing a formal consultation document. It is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input on the costs/benefits of the proposed changes, whether the changes meet the NPRI Decision Factors, the proposed timing for the change, thresholds, potential options for implementing changes to the requirements, facilities/sectors that would be affected, availability of data, alignment opportunities, potential complications, and other input on the issues raised in the proposals.
5. Development of Consultation Document – ECCC develops a Consultation Document, taking into account feedback received during early engagement. The Consultation Document contains ECCC’s proposed position on whether to make the change and, if applicable, a plan for implementation, to be consulted on.
6. Consultation – Generally, consultation takes one of the following two formats. If required, additional rounds of consultation may be conducted prior to proceeding to Step 7.
- Paper-based: The Consultation Document is sent to the Work Group and made available through the ECCC website during the formal consultation period, which lasts a minimum of 60 days, unless this consultation period would unacceptably delay the change. During this time, stakeholders submit formal comments in writing to ECCC. The Consultation Document is also shared with individual facilities, or sectors, or trade associations that may be affected by the proposal, beyond those represented in the Work Group, as needed. Any public comments received during the consultation period are shared with the NPRI Work Group for consideration, and an opportunity is given to consider revisions to the comments they have submitted.
- Work Group Recommendations: For complex changes, the Multi-Stakeholder Work Group may be engaged, or a sub-group to the Work Group may be formed, to review and develop recommendations if necessary. This step is in addition to the Consultation Document being made available through the ECCC website for a public consultation period (as above, usually a minimum of 60 days). Any public comments received during the consultation period are shared with the NPRI Work Group for consideration in developing their recommendations.
7. ECCC Response – ECCC considers stakeholder feedback in developing the response to the proposal, which describes the decision being taken. The response to the proposal itself, as well as responses to comments submitted by stakeholders during the consultation period, are then made available on the ECCC website. NPRI reporting requirements, revised where applicable, are published in the Canada Gazette Part I. Typically these changes will be made in the next biennial NPRI notice, however, in certain exceptional situations where this would unacceptably delay the change, the change may be implemented through an amendment to the previously published notice. A final response is also sent to the proponent.
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