SCC to Hear Appeal by CELA Clients; Water; Mercury; BPA; CEAA; and more

CELA Bulletin

78: 21-May-2010

Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association

In this issue:

  • Supreme Court of Canada to Hear Appeal by CELA Clients
  • Industry and Environmental Groups Commend Ontario Government for Showing Leadership on Water
  • Global Treaty on Mercury Needs to Seek Comprehensive Ban
  • CELA, CIELAP and Ecojustice Strongly Opposed to Loss of the Public's Legal Rights Under Ontario's "Open for Business Act"
  • Bisphenol A Exposure: New Study Finds North Americans Routinely Exposed to BPA in Canned Foods
  • CELA Opposes Gutting of Federal Environmental Assessment Law
  • CELA Clients Fighting Napanee Landfill Proposal - Again
  • CELA Responds to Proposed National Sewage Treatment Regulations
  • Groups Urge Ontario Government to Fast Track Implementation of Mandatory Home Energy Labelling
  • Selected List of Recent and Upcoming Public Speaking Engagements by CELA Staff

 

Supreme Court of Canada to Hear Appeal by CELA Clients
The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear an appeal by CELA clients in their pollution lawsuit against the Ontario government (view today's Media Release). In 1994, the Berendsen family commenced a civil action against Ontario in respect of chemical contamination of their dairy farm near Teviotdale. The lawsuit stated that chemical contaminants from buried roadbed materials on the farm impaired the Berendsens' water supply, and adversely affected the health and productivity of their cattle. In 2008, after a five week trial, a Superior Court judge allowed the Berendsens' action, and awarded the family members damages to compensate for their losses. In 2009, however, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the trial judgment. On May 20, 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to grant the Berendsens leave (i.e., permission) to appeal the Court of Appeal decision. It is anticipated that the appeal will be heard in 2011.
For additional information on CELA's longest-running court case:
Today's Media Release
Jan 23/08 media release regarding the trial judgment; and
summary article concerning the Berendsen's previous trip to the Supreme Court in 2001 in relation to a limitations defence which was unsuccessfully invoked by the defendant.
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel (613-385-1686; r.lindgren@sympatico.ca).

 

Industry and Environmental Groups Commend Ontario Government for Showing Leadership on Water
This week the Ontario government introduced the Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (Bill 72) and posted it to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for public comment (deadline of July 17/10) CELA, along with a diverse array of organizations and individuals formed the Ontario Water Conservation Alliance to ensure that the government heard our input that conservation should be a strong plank in the proposed new water opportunities legislation. We developed a strong water conservation platform and provided it to the public and to government as we advocate Ontario's strength not only in water treatment, but also in water conservation and in water expertise and soft path options. This week CELA, along with our partners in the Ontario Water Conservation Alliance, welcomed the new Bill (view May 18/10 Media Release) and look forward to providing more detailed input to government as it moves through the legislative and regulatory processes. Some of the elements of the Bill include the ability to require municipal water sustainability plans (inclusive of performance standards for water, waste water and stormwater); and an ability to require public agencies to prepare water conservation plans and to reach water conservation targets. It is also proposed that the Building Code Act be amended to include consideration of water conservation; that water efficiency standards be moved into the Ontario Water Resources Act; and measures to promote innovation of both water treatment technology and water conservation technology (including the creation of a new Water Technology Acceleration Project). These are selected highlights (view full text of Bill 72 on-line).
For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Executive Director 416-960-2284, ext. 219

 

Global Treaty on Mercury Needs to Seek Comprehensive Ban
The government of Canada will be engaging in upcoming global negotiations towards a legally binding instrument on mercury between June 7-11, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. The decision to seek global attention on mercury originates from the on-going Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. CELA and other NGOs in Canada and internationally are engaging in public consultations to provide input to Canadian positions for the upcoming negotations (view detailed submission to Environment Canada). Building upon our experience in the Great Lakes basin seeking the virtual elimination of persistent toxic chemicals such as mercury, we are supporting continued efforts towards the elimination of mercury from all anthropogenic sources including consumer products (see detailed position on website of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), of which CELA is a member). In our latest PollutionWatch report, Partners in Pollution 2, produced jointly by CELA and Environmental Defence, a case study on mercury is included outlining continuing release and transfer levels of mercury in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
For more information: Fe de Leon, Senior Researcher, (416-960-2284 ext. 223)

 

CELA, CIELAP and Ecojustice Strongly Opposed to Loss of the Public's Legal Rights Under Ontario's "Open for Business Act"
Three of Ontario’s leading environmental organizations are opposed to the Ontario government’s proposed Open for Business Act. If passed, this law would remove fundamental legal rights established under the Environmental Bill of Rights, including public notice and comment opportunities for certain industrial activities and the right to seek leave to appeal approval of these activities to the Environmental Review Tribunal (see May 18/10 Media Release). Ontario's Environment Ministry released a discussion paper about "modernizing approvals" addressing how the Ministry would implement the proposed new law. See: CELA's detailed response. The environmental groups have called upon the government to amend the proposed Act so as to leave intact the public notice and comment, and third party appeal rights under the Environmental Bill of Rights. We urge the public to write to Premier McGuinty and your MPP and copy Environment Minister John Gerretsen asking that the proposed Open for Business Act be amended to leave intact the public notice and comment and third party appeal rights under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

This proposed law is also very troubling in light of Ontario's Regulatory Policy, announced on April 1st. The policy includes a section on regulatory impact assessment which has parallels to the former Red Tape Commission's cost-benefit analysis requirements. In the report of the Walkerton Inquiry, Justice O'Connor cited the Red Tape Commission's "Less Paper/ More Jobs test" as one of the factors that led to the failure of the previous Conservative government to enact a public notification regulation (See the Walkerton Report Part I, Chap 10.8, p. 302). The requirement in the Regulatory Policy that regulations with an impact on business must be posted to the Regulatory Registry for public comment is a positive step. However, it is somewhat ironic that the government is imposing greater transparency under its new Regulatory Policy when businesses are affected, while simultaneously proposing in the Open for Business Act to remove fundamental legal rights for citizens.
For more information:
Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel (416-960-2284, ext. 217)

 

Bisphenol A Exposure: New Study Finds North Americans Routinely Exposed to BPA in Canned Foods
CELA and Environmental Defense assisted this week with the Canadian release of a report that finds routine exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) in canned foods. No Silver Lining reports that canned foods from across North America is routinely contaminate food with Bisphenol A, a chemical suspected in multiple serious health concerns including breast, prostate and testicular cancer, impacts on brain development and male and female reproductive health. BPA is also a suspected obesogen, chemicals that as a result of early life exposures may permanently alter fat metabolism and contribute to later life obesity with the attendant risk of diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. The groups have restated their call for a ban on BPA in all food containers. (May 18/10 Media Release) This work supports the on-going effort by CELA and other Canadian NGOs urging strong regulatory measures by the Canadian government on toxic chemicals through effective elimination strategies in protection of human health and the environment. (View on-line collections on Chemicals Management, Children's Health, and further detailed information on the CPCHE website; e.g., Bisphenol A collection).
For more information:
Fe de Leon, Senior Researcher, (416-960-2284 ext. 223)

 

CELA Opposes Gutting of Federal Environmental Assessment Law
Working alongside other environmental groups, CELA is continuing to respond to the Harper government's proposals to significantly weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Among other things, these proposals (buried within a 900 page budget bill known as Bill C-9) would permanently exempt many undertakings from CEAA coverage, and would facilitate "project splitting" so that environmentally significant components of contentious undertakings may not be subject to federal EA review. CELA wrote to the Prime Minister last month objecting to the timing, manner and content of the proposed amendments. In May, CELA Counsel Rick Lindgren presented to the Standing Committee on Finance about C-9 (view related Media Release) and made additional submissions to the committee including an analysis prepared in collaboration with Robert Gibson, an expert on environmental assessment from the University of Waterloo. Full collection about CEAA is on-line.
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel (613-385-1686; r.lindgren@sympatico.ca).

 

CELA Clients Fighting Napanee Landfill Proposal - Again
CELA continues to represent local residents living beside the controversial Richmond Landfill near Napanee. In 2006, CELA's clients worked with Tyendinaga Township and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to successfully oppose the proposed expansion of the Richmond Landfill. In 2010, however, the proponent has returned with a revised mega-landfill proposal for lands immediately beside the Richmond Landfill, and an environmental assessment process is now commencing. On-line, see April 29/10 media release and full collection: Richmond Landfill: Upholding Ontario's Environmental Assessment Process.
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel (613-385-1686; r.lindgren@sympatico.ca).

 

CELA Responds to Proposed National Sewage Treatment Regulations
A coalition of environmental groups, including CELA, has filed detailed comments on the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations which have been recently proposed under the Fisheries Act by the federal government. While generally supportive of the regulatory proposal to require secondary sewage treatment by all Canadian municipalities, the groups' comments identify a number of serious concerns and shortcomings in the draft regulations (i.e., excessively long phase-in periods; failure to adequately address combined sewage overflows; insufficient monitoring/reporting provisions, etc.). See May 19/10 Media Release: Minimum Standards with Maximum Loopholes.
For more information:
Richard Lindgren, CELA Counsel (613-385-1686; r.lindgren@sympatico.ca).

 

Groups Urge Ontario Government to Fast Track Implementation of Mandatory Home Energy Labelling
In a letter to Premier McGuinty from Green Communities Canada, CELA joins a long and growing list of groups in support of swift implementation of commitments made in Ontario's Green Energy and Economy Act. The letter urges the government to begin as soon as possible to implement mandatory energy labelling for new and existing homes in Ontario. Speed is essential in order to harness Ontario’s existing infrastructure of professional energy auditors, which will soon begin to disappear as federal incentives end. Early adoption of labelling is essential to avoid serious attrition of auditing and retrofit capacity in Ontario and maintain progress toward the government’s ambitious goals for home energy efficiency.
For more information:
Clifford Maynes, Executive Director, Green Communities Canada (705 745 7479 ext. 118)
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, CELA (416-960-2284 ext. 219) Selected List of

 

Recent and Upcoming Public Speaking Engagements by CELA Staff

Upcoming:

  • Theresa McClenaghan to speak for the Low Income Energy Network at the Annual Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network conference on the topic of the power of unusual partnerships on May 27th in Toronto.
  • Theresa McClenaghan will speak on low income energy conservation issues at the Low Income Energy Network Annual Conference, May 26th in Toronto.
  • Theresa McClenaghan and Kathleen Cooper speaking by webinar to Masters in Public Health students at Lakehead University on environmental health issues and legislation in Canada.

Recent:

  • Theresa McClenaghan spoke on May 19th at the state-wide Low Income Forum on Energy conference in Albany, New York on the work of Ontario's Low Income Energy Network, and at an Engineering Policy Institute conference on waste diversion proposals in Toronto on May 7th.
  • Theresa also spoke at the St. Lawrence River Institute annual conference in Cornwall on Great Lakes governance on May 6th and at the same conference with Renee Griffin, CELA Special Projects Counsel, presented on our environmental equity project "Making the Links" being conducted in partnership with the Environmental Health Institute of Canada.
  • Theresa McClenaghan spoke on May 5 in Toronto at the Canadian Environmental Conference and Trade Show (CANECT 2010) conference on federal regulation of toxic substances.
  • Theresa McClenaghan spoke on the potential Water Opportunities Act for Ontario at the Water Guardians annual conference, April 26th in Toronto.
  • Kathleen Cooper spoke in Vancouver on April 23 on the topic of children's environmental health at the Community Action Program for Children - Canadian Perinatal Nutrition Program (CAPC-CPNP) 2010 Provincial Conference.

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