The Canadian federal government has loosened environmental rules for exploratory drilling offshore Newfoundland & Labrador, saying it will make the approval process more efficient.

Under a ministerial regulation unveiled Thursday by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, exploration developments in a specific area offshore from the eastern Canadian province will be exempted from project-specific environmental impact assessments.

The rule covers activities in the Orphan, Flemish Pass and Jeanne d’Arc basins, among other areas.

"Today's announcement is another step towards fulfilling the government's commitment to protecting the environment while ensuring that good projects can move forward in a timely manner," a release from the Canadian government stated.