February 2018 Bulletin

News & Activities

CELA discusses Ontario’s nuclear emergency plan on “The Agenda”

CELA executive director Theresa McClenaghan appeared on TVO’s “The Agenda” to discuss Ontario’s updated nuclear emergency response plans. Other panelists included Shawn-Patrick Stensil from Greenpeace, Stephanie Smith from the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and Prof. Dave Novog from McMaster University.

CELA applauds federal government’s Budget 2018

CELA applauded the federal government’s announcement that $1.3 billion over five years of federal contribution will be allocated towards conserving Canada’s protected areas as part of its 2018 Budget. “This is a historic investment in conserving nature,” says Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director. “This marks a new era of land, water and wildlife protection in Canada. It recognizes the urgency of our biodiversity crisis and the importance of conserving our natural heritage.”

Improving the Implementation of Administrative Penalties draft

CELA submitted comments to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) on its draft guideline for the implementation of administrative penalties under the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act. The regime needs to be strengthened by outlining when agreements with violators will be used, allowing for public comment, allowing individuals associated with corporations to be targeted for penalties, and must consider previous violations of other environmental statutes in calculating an appropriate base penalty. Serious violations of the Climate Act should also be prosecuted.

Strengthening the proposed Impact Assessment Act

A proposed impact assessment law was recently introduced in Parliament. Although some elements of the Act contain modest improvements to the current regime, CELA counsel concluded that it requires further amendments to ensure sustainability and safeguard the public interest. Canada’s new legislative approach is set out in Bill C-69, which would repeal the existing Canadian Environmental Assessment Act , 2012 and enact the Impact Assessment Act, which would establish a new federal process for gathering information and making decisions about environmentally significant projects across Canada (e.g. mines, pipelines, and nuclear power plants). CELA has also prepared a briefing note on Bill C-69.


                      Photo: Guy Frankland/Flickr

Strengthening the proposed Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

CELA made several recommendations to the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change and Finance on proposed Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Although emissions pricing should encourage behaviour change, we do not feel the proposed Act is robust enough. We made several recommendations for improvement, such as including a mandatory requirement to address the impacts of pricing on vulnerable communities. We also urged the removal of provisions in the draft bill that grant open-ended authority to cabinet to create regulations. Among our recommendations we suggested including Canada’s GHG emissions targets in the regulations and instituting a regular review process that ensures pricing is high enough to achieve Canada’s GHG emissions reduction goals.

Improving Ontario’s nuclear decommissioning process

CELA submitted a report on the draft environmental impact statement for the in-situ decommissioning of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project in Rolphton, Ontario. Our extensive 63-page report includes numerous recommendations to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that would strengthen and protect public safety in the decommissioning process. Our sustainability-based evaluation of CNL’s draft Environmental Impact Statement for Nuclear Power Demonstration Closure Project was produced with the professional guidance of experts Dr. Tanya Markvart and Dr. Ian Fairlie.

ENGO letter on Procedures Update for Diversion Requests

CELA joined several environmental organizations in providing feedback to the Joint Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body and Compact Council Procedures Update Team. Our suggestions aim to improve the diversion review process which must satisfy the underlying intent of the Great Lakes Compact. This is especially important after the Waukesha, Wisconsin, diversion request. We suggested improvements to the public involvement process; substantial written technical and policy justification if an application meets certain provisions of the Compact; improvements to the documentation of decision-making processes; transparency about how Regional Body members have come to consensus; and promulgation and adoption of formal rules governing the diversion application and review process.


                       Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr

Ensuring safe drinking water for all Ontarians

Ontario’s Clean Water Act (CWA) sets out a detailed planning process that safeguards sources of drinking water against contamination or depletion. Twenty-two Source Protection Plans have now been approved under the CWA, and these plans are currently being implemented by public officials across the province. To date, however, the mandatory requirements of Source Protection Plans have only applied to wells or intakes supplying water to municipal drinking water systems. Since many Ontarians are not served by municipal water works, CELA prepared a brief calling upon the Ontario government to extend the CWA safety net to certain non-municipal drinking water systems.

Protecting the Rouge National Urban Park

CELA strongly supports the recent amendment to the Rouge National Urban Park Actwhich makes ecological integrity a priority in managing the park. Since Parks Canada is currently updating the Rouge National Urban Park Management Plan, we recommended that it meet or exceed ecological and watershed standards previously established under the Greenbelt Plan (2017), the Rouge Park Natural Heritage Action Plan, the Rouge North Management Plan, and the Rouge River Watershed Plan; meet or exceed Environment and Climate Change Canada’s recommendations for more than 50 per cent forest cover and 10 per cent wetland cover; and restore and protect the main 600-metre wide RNUP ecological corridor linking Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine.

NGO submission regarding radionuclides and the NPRI

Over 60 NGOs–including over 40 Canadian, and over 20 US groups–supported a submission in response to the October 2017 decision by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) not to add radionuclides to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) and to do so without soliciting public input. In 2013, NPRI Work Group members Anna Tilman and John Jackson had nominated radionuclides to be added to the NPRI. The NGO submission urges the ECCC to review its proposed position and grant a public consultation to review the nomination to add radionuclides to the NPRI


                   Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr

Strengthening proposed Cumulative Effects Assessment in Air Approvals

CELA made several comments to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) about its proposed policy on Cumulative Effects Assessment in Air Approvals. We recommended that the ministry undertake a cumulative effects assessment of all existing facilities as well as new and expanding facilities which emit air emissions in Ontario; that it provide detailed guidance on how the cumulative effects policy will be integrated with the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry regime; that it expressly state that MOECC refuse the application if contaminants exceed their Ambient Air Quality Criteria; and that proposed cumulative effects assessment policy should apply province-wide, among others.

Welcoming proposed changes to Federal Fisheries Act

CELA welcomes the wide-ranging reforms to the Fisheries Act that were announced this month by federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. The proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act are contained in Bill C-68, which has now been introduced for First Reading in Parliament. “CELA is pleased to see that the federal government has taken an important step towards fixing and modernizing the Fisheries Act” said CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren.