Toxic flame retardants remain unregulated; Divisional Court ruling good news for addressing low-income energy affordabilty

CELA Bulletin66: 11-July-2008 Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law AssociationIn this issue:

  • Canada under fire for toxic fire retardants
  • Appeal deadline passes for precedent-setting Divisional Court decision confirming Ontario Energy Board jurisdiction to consider low-income energy affordability program

Canada Under Fire for Toxic Flame Retardants - groups call for ban on all PBDESCELA, Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation are very disappointed with Canada's failure to regulate the most common form of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). In new regulations published this week, the government has banned only those PBDEs that have already been phased out and exempted the only commercial PBDE mixture still in use - DecaBDE. This move simply enshrines the status quo and leaves the groups still waiting, after 16 months, for a response to the formal Notice of Objection made to the draft regulations proposed in late 2006. In a media  release and  backgrounder issued today, the groups call on the federal government to follow the lead of Europe, the largest chemicals market in the world, as well as other jurisdictions, that have already banned all forms of PBDEs, in recognition of the scientific evidence about the danger of these substances to the environment and human health. These regulations raise broader concerns about whether the  government will take timely and effective action on the thousands of chemicals  under review in the government's Chemicals Management Plan.  For more information, please contact: Kathleen Cooper, Canadian Environmental Law Association (705) 341-2488 Elaine MacDonald, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext. 27 Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation (613) 796-7699 Appeal Deadline Passes for Precedent-setting Divisional Court decision: Decision confirms that OEB has jurisdiction to consider a low income energy affordability programThe Low-Income Energy Network-LIEN, (of which CELA is a founding member), has successfully challenged in Divisional Court an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) ruling concerning whether the OEB has jurisdiction to consider a low-income energy affordability program. Working with counsel in the private bar, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (one of CELA's fellow specialty legal aid clinics) represented LIEN in the Divisional Court. The court's decision reversed a previous OEB ruling, in a split decision, that the Board did not have this jurisdiction. No appeal has been made and with the appeal deadline passed, the Ontario Energy Board has announced that it will hold a hearing (in which LIEN will participate) on "Energy Issues Relating to Low Income Consumers". CELA participates on the LIEN Steering Committee and Legal Affairs Sub-Committee and will continue to work closely with our counsel and expert witnesses on this file and advocate that the OEB adopt a low income affordability program in its regulation of the electricity and natural gas utilities.For more information, please contact:Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel416-960-2284 ext. 219 416-662-8341 (cell) theresa@cela.ca - 30 -