Proposed new developments in Saskatchewan will still undergo reviews, even if they won't be assessed by the federal government, the province says.
Ottawa has cancelled environmental assessments for nearly 3,000 projects across Canada, including 764 in Saskatchewan, after new legislation took effect last month.
The reviews have been cancelled because the federal government changed the rules on what requires an environmental assessment when its new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act came into force on July 6.
The cancelled federal assessments in Saskatchewan range from new oil well sites on rural and First Nations land, to an expansion of a tailings pit at Cameco's Rabbit Lake uranium mine.
But Ken Cheveldayoff, the province's environment minister, said the environment remains its top priority when it comes to assessing new developments.
"Any project in Saskatchewan not on federal land will be subjected to the full provincial environmental regulatory process, including a full environmental assessment if it's warranted. So no project will go unregulated," Cheveldayoff told CBC News on Monday.
Cheveldayoff acknowledged that the province will likely face extra costs as it picks up more of the assessment work.
"The environment is our utmost concern, and we're going to ensure that no regulations are lessened because of this," he said.
He added that he is confident the provincial government has the expertise to take over what the federal government is leaving out with regards to environmental assessments.