A lack of environmental rights impacts some of us more than others. Time and time again low-income populations, First Nations communities, and other historically disadvantaged groups in our society are forced to bear more than their fair share of environmental harm while more affluent communities benefit.
Ecojustice has worked with federal environmental assessment (EA) law in its various forms for more than 20 years. These experiences have given us many clear examples of how Canada's EA process is broken and in need of major changes.
Ontario's health-based air quality standard for benzene is set to become law on July 1, 2016. Yet Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is working to accommodate a request from two of the province's largest industrial benzene emitters -- the petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries.
Whether included in an existing law such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or by way of a new statute, national and enforceable air pollution standards would be a step towards a more equitable society, in which disadvantaged communities aren't left bearing more than their fair share of the national environmental health burden.
If allowed to stand, the decision will further constrain the ability of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) to ensure that most serious environmental and human health impacts associated with major industrial projects, including mines, dams and tar sands operations, are addressed.
Eighteen lawsuits, including ones brought by our clients, have been filed and consolidated in to one mega-hearing that begins in Vancouver on Thursday. In the courtroom, Enbridge and the federal government will be up against steadfast, unwavering opposition from a diverse set of interest that includes First Nations communities, environmental groups and organized labour
Two years ago, Ecojustice and our clients celebrated a landmark win for protection of B.C.'s iconic killer whales under the Species at Risk Act. And while there have been some recent signs that these populations may be on the long road to recovery, proposed projects like the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and now the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion pose new threats to their survival.
Looking at Bill C-51, Ecojustice's primary concerns revolve around the proposed information-sharing regime and its implications for First Nations and environmentalists engaged in non-violent protests against fracking, pipelines, or other projects that pose serious risks to the environment and human health. Bill C-51 should be amended to exempt all forms of "advocacy, protest, dissent or artistic expression" so long as they do not endanger life. A peaceful Aboriginal blockade or environmental protest is not a national security threat.
At any given time, there are thousands of Canadians who cannot safely drink the water out of the taps in their homes. In some extreme cases, they may not even have indoor plumbing. The worst part is that for many, help isn't on the way.
A chemical dispersant is a kind of "spill-treating agent" (or "STA") that is designed to break up an oil slick and dilute the oil by mixing it into the water. A chemical dispersant isn't truly a clean-up tool -- it doesn't take any spilled oil out of the environment, and by the time a dispersant is applied, it's already too late to save most life forms in the vicinity of the spill.
People living in industry-heavy areas of cities such as Hamilton, Sarnia, and Windsor bear an unfair burden when it comes to exposure to air contaminants. Many of these substances -- including benzene, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulate matter -- are known to pose serious threats to human health,
We must learn from people who have a deep connection to place and accept that the earth has limits that must be respected.
By almost any measure, Canada fares surprisingly poorly when it comes to protecting the environment. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada ranked us 15th out of 17 countries based on a wide range of environmental metrics. Yet as anyone who has paddled a river, hiked a trail, or spent time in Canada's gazillion wild and beautiful places will know, this is a country that should be leading the world on green performance.
Earlier this week, I learned that the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) has decided to drop its investigation into an April 2013 chemical leak at a Shell refinery in Sarnia. Why? According to an MOE spokesperson, there wasn't enough evidence to proceed further.
The Charter is Canada's highest law and it applies to all levels of government across the country. It gives each of us inalienable rights -- ones that protect us from discrimination and guarantee our right to life, liberty and security of the person. We believe the Charter should include environmental rights too.
According to Environment Canada, there are more than 525 plant and animal species -- including the woodland caribou, greater sage-grouse, and piping plover -- at risk of disappearing from the country.
While we're pleased that federal and provincial regulators finally took action and laid charges against Plains Midstream, the size and nature of the settlements is somewhat disconcerting. It raises a number of questions and once again sheds light on the major weaknesses in Canada's environmental law and enforcement framework.
We are mystified that with so much at stake, with the risks of this project being so high, the board would quibble over nine days. We would have expected the board to err on the side of good process and give Kinder Morgan the extra time to answer the questions that have been asked by municipalities, landowners, local businesses, First Nations and environmental organizations.
While the Alberta Energy Regulator has made regulatory orders in some cases, no charges have been laid related to any of the oil spills that made headlines last summer. And for the most part, the public remains in the dark about how those spills have affected their communities and the environment. As the AER enters its second year, it has a golden opportunity to live up to its big promises.
B.C. is home to 75 per cent of Canada's bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish species and 66 per cent of its butterfly species. More 1,900 of these species are at-risk. A staggering 87 per cent these don't receive any protection under provincial or federal laws.