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Environmental Assessment Analyst
Environmental assessment analysts research and analyze environmental data and information for the preparation of environmental assessment reports in accordance with federal (i.e., Canadian Environmental Assessment Act) and provincial environmental assessment legislation. Environmental assessment analysts evaluate proposed projects and provide factual information for effective planning and decision making that promotes public awareness, environmental protection and management, and sustainable development.
At a glanceImagine you are standing in the quiet shade of an undisturbed forested area in the northern part of the province. Until a few years ago, there wasn’t much interest in this area, but the discovery of a large natural gas reserve lying underneath the forest has the potential to change all that. An energy corporation is proposing to tap this natural gas field and build an underground pipeline to carry the natural gas to southern markets. You are an environmental assessment analyst and you and your team are visiting the site as part of an environmental assessment on the proposed project. Your job is to ensure the project’s potential environmental effects are identified, assessed, and mitigated, and that accurate information is provided to decision makers to decide whether the project should proceed. As the lead environmental assessment analyst for this project, you must decide what kind of assessment the project needs and what provincial, federal, and other environmental legislation applies. Since the pipeline is a large-scale project, federal funds and regulator approvals are required, and because the area is very sensitive to human disturbance, it has been decided that a comprehensive study level of assessment is required. A comprehensive study is an intensive environmental assessment under federal environmental assessment legislation designed to identify, assess, and mitigate adverse environmental effects and evaluate the significance of the residual effects of a proposed development. You and your team will spend months gathering data and information from the site and reviewing case studies from similar developments. You will also spend time consulting with area residents and members of a local Aboriginal community to gather their comments on the pipeline, as well as posting assessment information on the Internet for additional feedback from the public. Once you have all required information, you will prepare an environmental assessment report that outlines the potential environmental consequences of the development and provides conclusions on the significance of the residual effects on the environment. If the project is approved, you may also be involved in following up on the assessment, for example monitoring during pipeline construction to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented and effective and the residual effects remain insignificant.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental assessment analyst:
- Maintain awareness of environmental assessment legislation, policies, procedures, and major environmental assessments conducted on a regional and national scale.
- Gather and analyze project and environmental data and information on the environmental effects of proposed development projects.
- Conduct pre-assessment studies and site visits and post-assessment monitoring and inspection during project construction and operation.
- Determine the scope of projects and assessments to be undertaken to focus the environmental assessment on important issues, concerns, and effects, including identifying spatial and temporal boundaries for the project and the degree of assessment needed in relation to these points.
- Identify environmental effects, assess the adversity of environmental effects, propose mitigation measures, and evaluate the significance of residual environmental effects.
- Design and implement follow-up programs to determine the adequacy of the environmental assessment and the effectiveness of mitigation measures.
- Coordinate and review environmental assessment reports with other provincial and federal departments, agencies, and organizations to ensure that the assessments comply with environmental legislation and national and international standards and best practices.
- Coordinate public information and involvement programs, conduct public open houses and meetings, and participate in public hearings for major projects.
- Develop procedures, guidelines, and best practices for the implementation of environmental assessment laws.
- Advise on the development of environmental assessment legislation.
Work environmentIn the office:
- Meeting with proponents, stakeholders, and federal and provincial officials to determine the project’s scope and the environmental assessment required
- Using environmental assessment methods, including computer mapping, GIS, and models, to identify and assess environmental effects
- Consulting with discipline experts on the effects of proposed projects, alternatives to projects, and mitigation measures to address environmental effects
- Researching and analyzing environmental information, for example species-at-risk, environmentally sensitive areas, wildlife data, and groundwater data
- Researching and consulting with other environmental assessment practitioners and reviewing other environmental assessments
- Advising on project approvals, mitigation measures, follow-up requirements, and permit or licence terms and conditions
- Preparing environmental assessment reports and implementing environmental protection plans and follow-up reports
- Conducting site visits and investigations and collecting baseline environmental information
- Visiting other projects to obtain information, for example potential environmental effects, mitigation measures, and alternatives
- Conducting studies and research to fill information gaps and address critical deficiencies
- Conducting follow-up programs to determine adequacy of the environmental assessment and effectiveness of the mitigation measures
- Conducting baseline monitoring of environmental parameters
- Conducting public consultation and involvement programs, for example open houses, public meetings, surveys, and interviews
Where to workThere are a number of places environmental assessment analysts can find employment. They include:
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Environmental and engineering consulting firms
- Aboriginal organizations
- Self-employed consultant
- Industrial companies
- Non-profit organizations, for example conservation and environmental advocacy groups
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental assessment analyst, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Social Studies
- Environmental Assessment
- Environmental Management
- Ecosystem Management
- Natural Resource Management