Reflecting on 2013 one is struck with some noteworthy developments in environmental law and policy. Here are some highlights (or in most cases low lights)
- the federal Fisheries Act amendments to the “HADD” (Harmful, alteration, disruption and destruction) prohibitions (s.35) came into force. An unfortunate event if you rely on fish habitat (or care about aquatic ecology); and
- the continued emasculation of federal environmental assessments through changes to the Regulations Designating Physical Activities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (to which the ELC responded with its model environmental assessment law).
- the long awaited provincial wetland policy is finally released but is short on substantive measures that will ensure wetlands and their functions will be conserved for future generations (the ELC Blogged about it here);
- the issue of standing and public interest participation in environmental decision making remained front and centre with the Alberta Court finding that the Government Alberta had displayed bias in deciding not to grant the Pembina Institute them standing in an oilsands hearing; and
- a single energy regulator was armed with regulations and legislation was passed to form an arms length environmental monitoring agency (the results of both remain to be determined).
This is my short list to be certain, and with it I will bid adieu to 2013 with a song:
(sung to “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”)
Obed mine, what you missin
Coal mine waste, won’t be fishin
A sorrowful sight
Dam breach is not right
Sediment in winter wonderland
Bitumen leaks, hard to take
Did we drill Primrose wrong?
Won’t have answers for a song
Oil in a winter wonderland
In Alberta we can build a Regulator
Then pretend that all is fine and grand
They’ll say “are you crazy?”
We’ll say “no man”.
but will it protect,
the air, water, and land.
To build pipelines to fuel their fires
The risks, we’re afraid
Will be down played
Economy in the winter wonderland…
Seeking stronger environmental laws in the winter wonderland, Happy New Year from the ELC.