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A lack of environmental rights impacts some of us more than others. Time and time again low-income populations, First Nations communities, and other historically disadvantaged groups in our society are forced to bear more than their fair share of environmental harm while more affluent communities benefit.
Ecojustice has worked with federal environmental assessment (EA) law in its various forms for more than 20 years. These experiences have given us many clear examples of how Canada's EA process is broken and in need of major changes.
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Ontario's health-based air quality standard for benzene is set to become law on July 1, 2016. Yet Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is working to accommodate a request from two of the province's largest industrial benzene emitters -- the petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries.
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Whether included in an existing law such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or by way of a new statute, national and enforceable air pollution standards would be a step towards a more equitable society, in which disadvantaged communities aren't left bearing more than their fair share of the national environmental health burden.
If allowed to stand, the decision will further constrain the ability of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) to ensure that most serious environmental and human health impacts associated with major industrial projects, including mines, dams and tar sands operations, are addressed.
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Eighteen lawsuits, including ones brought by our clients, have been filed and consolidated in to one mega-hearing that begins in Vancouver on Thursday. In the courtroom, Enbridge and the federal government will be up against steadfast, unwavering opposition from a diverse set of interest that includes First Nations communities, environmental groups and organized labour
"In the worst-case scenario you can have a well that is venting something or leaking something and not being aware of it because you've never done the pressure testing that was required."
Two years ago, Ecojustice and our clients celebrated a landmark win for protection of B.C.'s iconic killer whales under the Species at Risk Act. And while there have been some recent signs that these populations may be on the long road to recovery, proposed projects like the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and now the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion pose new threats to their survival.
Looking at Bill C-51, Ecojustice's primary concerns revolve around the proposed information-sharing regime and its implications for First Nations and environmentalists engaged in non-violent protests against fracking, pipelines, or other projects that pose serious risks to the environment and human health. Bill C-51 should be amended to exempt all forms of "advocacy, protest, dissent or artistic expression" so long as they do not endanger life. A peaceful Aboriginal blockade or environmental protest is not a national security threat.
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At any given time, there are thousands of Canadians who cannot safely drink the water out of the taps in their homes. In some extreme cases, they may not even have indoor plumbing. The worst part is that for many, help isn't on the way.
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A chemical dispersant is a kind of "spill-treating agent" (or "STA") that is designed to break up an oil slick and dilute the oil by mixing it into the water. A chemical dispersant isn't truly a clean-up tool -- it doesn't take any spilled oil out of the environment, and by the time a dispersant is applied, it's already too late to save most life forms in the vicinity of the spill.
People living in industry-heavy areas of cities such as Hamilton, Sarnia, and Windsor bear an unfair burden when it comes to exposure to air contaminants. Many of these substances -- including benzene, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulate matter -- are known to pose serious threats to human health,
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We must learn from people who have a deep connection to place and accept that the earth has limits that must be respected.
By almost any measure, Canada fares surprisingly poorly when it comes to protecting the environment. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada ranked us 15th out of 17 countries based on a wide range of environmental metrics. Yet as anyone who has paddled a river, hiked a trail, or spent time in Canada's gazillion wild and beautiful places will know, this is a country that should be leading the world on green performance.