CELA in 2007 - the Year in Review

CELA Bulletin 
59: 21-December-2007

Periodic E-News from the Canadian Environmental Law Association

In this issue: CELA in 2007 - the Year in Review

1. Theresa McClenaghan Appointed as CELA's Executive Director
2. By-passing Nuclear Regulator Sets Dangerous Precedent
3. Enviro Groups Seek Full Ban on all Brominated Flame Retardants
4. Great Lakes Blueprint Calls for Canadian Action
5. CELA's Clients Oppose Proposed Cement Kiln Incinerator
6. CELA in Cheering Section for Province-wide Ban on Cosmetic Pesticides
7. Toys and Plastics Underline Need for Reform of Product Regulation
8. Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials Need to be Regulated
9. Father's Day Report - the Greater Vulnerability of Boys
10. Cancer Prevention and Community Right to Know
11. Drinking Water Source Protection
12. Controlling Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

CELA continues to play a leading role in Canada providing legal services and promoting health and environmental values. Our core mandate derives from our principal role as a specialized legal clinic. Funded in part by Legal Aid Ontario, CELA is engaged in efforts to help low income people and disadvantaged communities with environmental problems. We represent groups and individuals in the courts and before tribunals, and we conduct law reform and public legal education campaigns to further our public interest objectives. 

(Note to Blackberry users - email software or on-line email services will avoid display of full URLs for weblinks in this Bulletin) 

1.  Theresa McClenaghan Appointed as CELA's Executive Director

The Board of Directors of CELA is pleased to announce the appointment of Theresa McClenaghan as Executive Director. Theresa has just returned to CELA after eighteen months as the provincial environment Minister’s senior policy advisor for water issues, where she was responsible for overseeing the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Sustaining and Safeguarding Ontario’s Water Act, implementation of the remaining recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry and other water initiatives.  Prior to that, Theresa was Counsel at CELA, from 1998 to 2006, and has been practicing environmental law in Ontario in various capacities for over twenty years.


2.  CELA, Greenpeace and Ecojustice: MPs should not override Canada's nuclear regulator

Alongside a recent media release, CELA, Greenpeace and Ecojustice wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper raising grave concerns about fast-track legislation to permit the restart of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River. The groups note that for Parliament to second guess the decisions of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission sets a very dangerous precedent and undermines the credibility and independence of the regulator. 

For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, 416-960-2284, ext. 219
Nuclear Phaseout (full collection of on-line resources related to nuclear phase-out in Canada)

3.  Enviro Groups Seek Full Ban on all Brominated Flame Retardants

Throughout 2007, Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, CELA and Environmental Defence have continued to push for a full ban on all forms of highly toxic brominated flame retardants (PBDEs). Last February, the groups filed a Notice of Objection in response to the federal government's inadequate regulatory proposal and management plan for deca-BDE. Using out-of-date science, the government plan would simply ban those flame retardants that were voluntarily withdrawn three years earlier. In a recent supplement to the Notice of Objection, the groups provided further scientifice evidence about the need for a full ban, notably including deca-BDE. Firefighters in Canada recently joined in the call for a full ban citing cancer concerns among their members. Safer alternatives are available.

For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, 416-960-2284 ext. 221
PBDEs - Flame Retardants as problematic as PCBs (full collection of CELA's on-line resources)
Flame Retardants (more information in collection on healthyenvironmentforkids.ca website)

4.  Great Lakes Blueprint Calls for Action - Canadian funding efforts called grossly inadequate

Canada lags far behind the US in funding efforts to address serious problems in the Great Lakes according to six of Canada's leading environmental organizations. In a Great Lakes Blueprint - A Canadian Vision for Protecting and Restoring the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Ecosystem, the groups outline the crisis facing the Great Lakes and its solutions. Human activity results in the dumping of vast amounts of raw sewage to the lakes and far more industrial air pollution occurs from Canadian facilities than their US counterparts. Further stress on the lakes comes from invasive species, dropping water levels and sprawling urbanization. All of these stresses contribute to the destruction of sensitive wildlife habitat. This solutions-focused report outlines eight priorities for Canadian governments to follow.

Extensive advocacy for Great Lakes protection occurred at CELA throughout 2007 with responses to consultations on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Ecosysten Basin and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. These consultations addressed issues of water quality and toxic substances as well as water quantity and issues of overuse or diversion of Great Lakes waters.

With the release of a new Canada-Ontario Agreement in August, concerns were raised by CELA, Great Lakes United and Environmental  Defence that the new three-year workplan would not address the many challenges that exist in the basin. At the federal level, CELA pushed for special protection of this unique and vulnerable ecosystem in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This recommendation was partially supported by the Parliamentary standing committee reviewing CEPA in its reportreleased in June. 

For more information:
Sarah Miller, Fe deLeon, Hugh Benevides (416) 960-2284 ext. 213, 223, 218
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (on-line collection)
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (on-line collection)
Reviewing CEPA (on-line collection)

5. Casework: CELA's clients oppose proposed cement kiln incinerator

A very active file this year included a series of procedural steps towards a long-awaited hearing into Lafarge Canada's controversial proposal to burn tires, plastics and other waste in a 34-year old cement kiln near Kingston, Ontario. Residents and environmental groups represented by CELA, Ecojustice and lawyers in the private bar, sought leave to appeal two Environment Ministry approvals of the project. In a landmark decision in April, 2007, the Environmental Review Tribunal granted CELA's client leave to appeal the approvals, and preliminary hearings began in the fall. However, the proponent recently served an application for judicial review of the Tribunal's decision.

For more information:
Rick Lindgren, (416) 960-2284 ext. 214

6. CELA in Cheering Section for Proposed Province-wide Ban on Cosmetic Pesticides

CELA strongly supported Dalton McGunity's pre-election commitment to ban non-essential or "cosmetic" pesticide use in Ontario. A provincial ban will need to follow the model of those Ontario municipalities already having bylaws in place and ensure that strong loophole-free legislation is accompanied by effective educational measures to help Ontario residents eliminate any remaining chemical dependence in their lawns and gardens. CELA looks forward to working with the Ontario government in the new year on this progressive initiative.

For more information:

Kathleen Cooper, 416-960-2284 ext. 221
Hudson, Quebec Pesticide Bylaw (on-line collection about legal victories in support of bylaws)
Partnership for Pesticide Bylaws (on-line collection of materials in support of Toronto bylaw)

7. Toy Recalls, Chemicals in Plastics Underline Need for Comprehensive Reform of Product Regulation

CELA has called for reform of the antiquated Hazardous Products Act for over seven years. During the ongoing Parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) we have called for improved regulation of products containing toxic substances such as brominated flame retardants (noted above), and "perfluorochemicals" also present in many consumer products.

Although lead was declared "CEPA-toxic" in 1988, that designation had almost no impact on the steady stream of lead in consumer products since that time. The problem of lead in products went into overdrive during the summer of 2007 with millions upon millions of toys pulled off shelves around the world and sent to landfill or other disposal. It becomes hard to believe that the federal government can make progress on regulating toxic chemicals in general, and in products in particular, when even lead continues to be a problem.

Throughout 2007, much needed attention turned to the world's excessive use of plastic. Much concern has focused this year on the chemicals in plastic, especially those that come in direct contact with food and drink or that routinely go in children's mouths or that pollute our indoor air.

Hope for reform springs eternal at CELA and we look forward to 2008 when we will push for comprehensive reform of chemicals in products under all relevant federal statutes. In the meantime, extensive on-line resources are collated at www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca including information about Toy Safety, Phthalates (chemicals in PVC plastic), bisphenol A (the chemical in #7 polycarbonate plastic). Of particular interest to many is the Smart Plastics Guide - Healthier Food Uses of Plastics (for parents and children). CELA also provided advice to parents about avoiding chemical exposures during back-to-school shopping.

For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, Fe de Leon, Hugh Benevides 416-960-2284 ext, 221, 223, 218

8. Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials Need to be Regulated

Product regulation must extend to the new frontier of nanotechnology. In July, CELA joined a large and growing list of organizations from around the world calling for a precautionary foundation to a comprehensive program of regulation. The broad international coalition issued a media release and the statement: Principles for the Oversight of Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials.

For more information:
Fe de Leon, 416-960-2284 ext. 223
and the International Center for Technology Assessment

9. Father's Day Report - the Greater Vulnerability of Boys

In a report released for Father's Day, the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment summarizes the evidence pointing to greater risks to boys from environmental exposures. Whether it is asthma, cancer, birth defects and especially learning problems or autism, boys are affected more often. Evidence also point to greater exposure. The Father's Day report, and the summary, provides a review of evidence and practical suggestions for fathers to reduce harmful exposures for themselves and for all children.

For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, 416-960-2284 ext. 221
Children's Health and the Environment (on-line collection of resources)

10. Cancer Prevention and Community Right to Know

Through CELA's work with the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, progress was made on several fronts this year. Toronto moved closer to creating a Community Right to Know bylaw and CELA strongly supported a proposed private members bill to enact toxics use reduction legislation in Ontario. CELA also advised on the development of a gap analysis on the reduction of environmental carcinogens in Ontario. These efforts contributed to two of Dalton McGuinty's pre-election promises concerning cancer prevention via control of environmental carcinogens and passage of legislation to achieve reduction in the use of toxic substances. CELA will continue to work on these initiatives in the new year. Also during 2007, CELA Research Associate Anne Wordsworth co-authored an excellent new resource entitled Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic.

For more information:
Sarah Miller, 416-960-2284 ext. 213
Cancer Prevention (collection of on-line resources)

11. Drinking Water Source Protection - Implementing the Walkerton Inquiry Recommendations

CELA continued throughout 2007 working on the deep details to implement the recommendations flowing from the Walkerton Inquiry. With the formation of the Water Guardians Network, CELA was instrumental in providing advice and helping to coordinate cooperative activities among environmental and community groups across Ontario. This work included securing funding to assist the Ontario Environment Network with efforts to place citizen and environmental group participants on local source protection committees. CELA also continued to advance a public interest perspective with policy makers by providing substantive legal analyses and critical review of regulations under the provinces new Clean Water Act. CELA also monitored and responded to proposed changes to Ontario's water wells regulation, and has recently been appointed to a stakeholder's panel to develop "best practices" manuals for well-related activities such as construction, disinfection and decommissioninng.

For more information:
Sarah Miller, Fe de Leon, Rick Lindgren, 416-960-2284, ext. 213, 223, 214
Water Source Protection (on-line collection)

12. Controlling Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

Last, but certainly not least, CELA recognizes air pollution and climate change as among the most urgent environmental issues facing Canadians. Air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, is probably the most serious environmental threat to children's health when we consider two things: the large and rising numbers of children with asthma and the solid scientific evidence linking asthma and other respiratory impacts with indoor and outdoor air pollution. Our extensive work in the Great Lakes documents the impacts of climate change and calls for action, particularly with respect to the need for water conservation. PollutionWatch partners (CELA and Environmental Defence) this year released another in a series of analyses of publicly-reported pollution data, for the first time including a picture of major greenhouse gas emitters.

For more information:
Children's Health and the Environment (on-line collection)
Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement  (on-line collection)
Response to Ontario's Draft Regional Water Conservation and Efficiency Objectives (Oct, 07)
Using CEPA to Control Air Pollution, Protect Significant Areas and Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions (July, 2007)

This Bulletin provides only highlights of CELA's work in 2007. For more information, visit www.cela.ca or view our Annual Report. The staff and board members at CELA extend warm holiday greetings to all of our Bulletin subscribers.

- 30 -