News @ ECELAW- September 2016

The Future of Environmental Impact Assessment in Canada

We are official interveners in the federal case to stop the company Bilcon from collecting 100 million US dollars from Canadian taxpayers. This case has its roots in the small community of Sandy Cove on Digby Neck, where the community and the government refused to allow the blasting of the coastline for extraction and export of basalt for construction projects in New Jersey. The case began in our province, but its reach extends to the very heart of environmental law in Canada. It threatens the rights of Canadians to decide how and who exploits our natural resources. We are working hard to keep Canadian environmental law Canadian. There is more about our role in this federal court case at: www.ecelaw.ca/item/150-good-news-for-canada-s-environmental-assessment-law-no-cash-advance-for-bilcon.html

The federal Liberal government is engaging all of us in a review of the many catastrophic changes made during the past decade to the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. ECELAW welcomes this review and recognizes the importance of involvement from all Canadians. Atlantic Canadians' stories need to be heard, and ECELAW is working hard to be part of this monumental consultation process, to bring our expertise to the table through the experiences we have gained from the many groups and individuals we have represented. You can read about the Environmental Assessment reform consultation process, including the upcoming public sessions in Halifax on October 3, 2016 at: www.eareview-examenee.ca

The Controversial Energy East Pipeline

The proposed Energy East pipeline hearings started with informal panel sessions in Saint John, New Brunswick on August 8. We were there, representing our client Nature Canada, and made the first presentation to the Panel, noting concerns about the applicant’s capacity to effectively manage an oil spill in the fragile Bay of Fundy. Now, the hearing process has degenerated into chaos and our goal is to ensure that going forward, the process is fair, open and honest. 

Undrinkable Water in Harrietsfield

You will hear more from us in a couple of weeks when we are at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia with our colleagues from Ecojustice as we represent our clients as intervenersin an appeal (Brown and Lawrence v. the Minister of Environment). Our clients live in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia and they have been struggling with contaminated water for more than a decade. The issues are complicated and the spin makes us all dizzy, but in essence there is leachate from a contaminated site in their drinking water. The owners of the property and the owners of the company have been ordered by the Minister of Environment to deal with the contaminants and the water, but rather than complying with that Order, the parties have gone to court, claiming that they are not responsible. We are there to ensure that the victims of the contamination are not lost in the battle. 

The Right to a Healthy Environment

Silver Donald Cameron has released a new film “Green Rights: The Right to a Healthy World” and a new book “Lawyer Warriors:From Manila to Manhattan, Attorneys for the Earth.” He is on a cross-country tour to promote both and I had the pleasure of attending the first screening in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. I encourage you to attend a screening of this incredibly interesting and insightful film when it arrives in your community. For more information on the Green Rights tour go to: www.thegreeninterview.com/2016/08/13/and-now-green-rights-the-tour/

As difficult as it seems to understand, the stories of global environmental crises and the legal and other efforts to stop and reverse the degradation must continue to be told. ECELAW is working hard to represent the public interest on a myriad of environmental issues and capitalize on opportunities for action here in Atlantic Canada.

This important work is costly and can only continue with the support of people who care. Please consider supporting ECELAW with a donation.