October 2014 Bulletin

Residents near nuclear plants to receive iodide pills

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has finally added a new regulation requiring residents and businesses near nuclear plants to be given radiation protection pills as a precautionary measure. The pills must be given out before an accident occurs in co-operation with government authorities. CELA has called for predistribution of potassium iodide pills to residents around Canadian nuclear plants since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

Environmental Commissioner confirms need for reforms

In his recently released Annual Report, Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario strongly recommends that the Ministry of the Environment “conduct a comprehensive public review of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and related regulations.” This recommendation was triggered by an Application for Review of the EAA filed by CELA, which flagged several high-priority issues requiring immediate legislative or regulatory reform.

However, the Ministry of the Environment flatly refused to carry out the requested Review. The Environmental Commissioner’s Annual Report sharply criticizes the Ministry’s refusal, and finds that CELA’s concerns were “valid” and that a public review of Ontario’s EA regime is “long overdue.” It remains to be seen whether the Environmental Commissioner’s well-founded criticism will prompt the Ministry to end its inaction on EA reform in Ontario.

SPOTLIGHT: Access to environmental justice

One of CELA's core areas of work is encouraging and assisting others with obtaining access to environmental justice. Our mandate includes advocating for greater public participation and access to decision making, especially with cases that affect the environment and public health. We have several documents devoted to this issue, and we invite readers to use our publicly available archives for legal research.

New Ontario Water Law book by CELA Executive Director to be published

A new book examining current provincial and federal regulatory frameworks for all aspects of water in Ontario by CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan and environmental lawyer Julie Abouchar will soon be published. The authoritative text is annotated with cases from the courts and tribunals along with prosecution disposition reports.

LIEN submits comments on natural gas distributors framework

As a founding member of the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN), CELA worked with our colleagues to submit several comments on developing a new Demand Side Management (DSM) Framework for Natural Gas Distributors. LIEN’s recommendations included achieving a cost-effective DSM that results in a reasonable rate impact, ensuring low-income programs are accessible across the province, and providing educational information and data to help customers use natural gas more efficiently.

Faces of CELA: Erica Stahl

Meet CELA’s current articling student, Erica Stahl, and hear her thoughts on Canada's environmental regulations.

So what do you do at CELA? I am the only articling student at CELA, so I get to do a wide variety of work. I am the main point of contact for members the public who want to learn more about their environmental rights.The majority of my time, however, is spent doing legal research to assist the lawyers with their cases and law reform work. I also get to observe mediation sessions, hearings and client meetings. Some of the active files right now are the Darlington nuclear appeal (Greenpeace) and a number of quarry cases.

What’s the path that brought you to CELA? I went to Osgoode Hall Law School because you can get a Masters of Environmental Studies at the same time as your law degree. In my second year I volunteered at CELA and loved being able to do public interest environmental law. I applied for the articling position and the rest is history.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental law? Climate change is the issue that made me really want to make a difference.

What is the most important environmental regulation you'd like to see in Canada? I think we need to think bigger than regulations. Canadians need a clean, healthy environment in order to thrive. It's not a question of environment versus economy - obviously we need both, and we can have both. I'd like to see the right to a clean, healthy environment recognized as part of the constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person.

When you’re not at CELA, what do you like to do? I'm in a salsa dance performance troupe, I like skiing and traveling, and I enjoy reading fiction.