Turning a blind eye to the links between race, socio-economic status, and environmental risks doesn't make the issue any less real. The fact is, environmentally harmful activities take place in some communities more than others. The proposed Act to Address Environmental Racism in Nova Scotia is a powerful step in that direction.
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,
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.
We are mystified that with so much at stake, with the risks of this project being so high, the board would quibble over nine days. We would have expected the board to err on the side of good process and give Kinder Morgan the extra time to answer the questions that have been asked by municipalities, landowners, local businesses, First Nations and environmental organizations.
While the Alberta Energy Regulator has made regulatory orders in some cases, no charges have been laid related to any of the oil spills that made headlines last summer. And for the most part, the public remains in the dark about how those spills have affected their communities and the environment. As the AER enters its second year, it has a golden opportunity to live up to its big promises.
There's a shadow over the Oshawa Harbour as well, a darkness and a rot. Oshawa is the only city on the Great Lakes with no boat access to the water. Think about that: 150,000 people living within spitting distance of one of the largest lakes on the planet, and they have to get in their cars and drive somewhere else if they want to fish, sail, or paddle.
The Environmental Review Tribunal continues to grind through its list of anti-wind appeals. On December 5, it rejected an appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for another wind farm, Pattern Energy's South Kent Wind facility, 127 turbines between Tilbury and Ridgetown. In each of the appeals, the opponents have argued that approval of the wind farm will cause serious harm to human health. In each case, the Tribunal has found that this allegation has not been proven.
The new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012), which came into effect last month, allows the federal government to create mandatory timelines for assessments of even the largest and most important projects, regardless of public opposition. Last Friday the CEAA announced timelines for nine projects under review, giving us our first look at how much time the government will allow for federal environmental assessments. It doesn't look very good.