Environmental Law & Policy

Media Release

Environmental groups challenge Syncrude tailings plan approvals

ERCB acted contrary to the law in approving tailings plans, groups say

CALGARY – The Energy Resources Conservation Board’s approval of Syncrude’s tailings management plan is unlawful and must be revoked immediately, Ecojustice said today.

Ecojustice, acting on behalf of the Pembina Institute and Water Matters, has filed an application (see attached) with the ERCB requesting approval be withdrawn until management plans are brought in line with ERCB’s tailings management directive. Read more about Environmental groups challenge Syncrude tailings plan approvals

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National pollutant data finally released, sort of

Following the recent release of new mining pollution data — compelled by a lawsuit by MiningWatch Canada & Great Lakes United — the Environmental Law Centre's Laura Bowman posts on the "sorry state of access to pollution data in Canada":

The question remains, does anyone even know the environmental impact from spills and routine releases from industry and municipalities in Canada? Is it even possible for anyone to find out if there are reporting and access to information barriers?

Read more about National pollutant data finally released, sort of
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Capital Power and broken promises

The Pembina Institute's Chris Severson-Baker posts on Capital Power's application to renege on a commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions at their Genesee 3 coal-fired power plant. The commitment was part of the original approval to build the power plant.

…allowing companies to renege on environmental commitments made at public hearings once projects are operating would be set a dangerous precedent and completely undermine the credibility of the Alberta approvals process.

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Accountability & Transparency in Managing Alberta's Environment

Accountability and transparency are essential principles of democracy, but when it comes to managing Alberta's environment they can sometimes be in short supply. The Environmental Law Centre's Jason Unger discusses accountability in the regulatory approval process, the lack of a legal remedy to address broken promises, and proposes two legislative changes to address the issue.

The word “accountable”, meaning “responsible; answerable” (Black’s Law dictionary 9th ed.), evokes the idea that we must pay the piper for unmet promises…

 

…It seems, however, that accountability for environmental impacts and decisions related to them are becoming increasingly elusive.

The Pembina Institute's Nathan Lemphers goes on a quest in search of emergency preparedness plans in case of a oil sands tailings lake breach, and finds only secrecy and a lack of transparency.

Communities downstream of the oil sands are already skeptical about whether the Government of Alberta and oil sands operators are diligently managing the impacts and risks associated with oil sands development…

…A lack of transparency around tailings management is only adding to the skepticism and concerns.

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Senate Passes Budget Bill Weakening Canadian Environmental Assessment

Despite the opposition of public interest groups, including AEN members Ecojustice, Sierra Club Canada, and the Environmental Law Centre, and a recommendation from the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate voted to pass the budget bill (C-9) including provisions to weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Environmental Law Centre's Adam Driedzic weighs in on the impacts on the environmental assessment process and the "exclusion of the public from decision-making on matters of public interest."

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to be concerned with this one.  For the second straight year, the federal budget bill passed with Trojan horse provisions unrelated to the budget.   The perennial target is the federal environmental assessment regime, but the real victim is the public.

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Media Release

Senate Finance Committee Protects the Environment

Edmonton, AB – In the past few months, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has been actively involved in campaigning against amendments that could render the environmental assessment process ineffectual, needlessly exposing the environment, the Canadian public, and future generations to unknown and potentially irreversible risks by providing the Minister of Environment with discretion to reduce the scope of activities for which an assessment is conducted. Read more about Senate Finance Committee Protects the Environment

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