Regulations Unlawfully Gut Key Federal Environmental Law

For Immediate Release

EcoJustice
Contact: 

Albert Koehl, Lawyer, Ecojustice (416) 573-4258 (cell) [French or English interviews]
Justin Duncan, Lawyer, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext 22
Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada (613) 241-4611 ext 238

Regulations Unlawfully Gut Key Federal Environmental Law

OTTAWA - Ecojustice has launched a
lawsuit on behalf of Sierra Club Canada claiming that the federal government
acted unlawfully in issuing two recent federal regulations that gut the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).  

The lawsuit challenges
the Exclusion List Regulations that exempt thousands of projects such as
highways, bridges, roads and sewer systems from facing the scrutiny of legally
required federal assessments over the next two years. The lawsuit also
challenges the Adaptation Regulations that unlawfully give powers to the
Minister of the Environment to exempt any other project from federal EA that is
funded under the Building Canada Fund.   

"These changes
to the law are like cutting the brake line to make a car go faster," said
Ecojustice lawyer Justin Duncan. "It is reckless, irresponsible and represents
an extremely serious attack on Canada's environmental assessment laws. None of
the US, China or India have gotten rid of environmental assessment oversight in
their economic stimulus plans."

CEAA was passed in 1992 to promote
sustainable development by ensuring that federal decision makers have good
information about the environmental impacts of projects as well as 
ensuring public participation in the environmental assessment
process.

"Federal environmental assessments are the legal equivalent of
"looking before you leap," added Ecojustice lawyer Albert Koehl.  "You have
to look no further than Wall Street to see the unintended impact of haphazard
deregulation."

"The Harper minority government is unlawfully usurping
Parliament's legislative role through the so-called Adaptation Regulations,"
said Sierra Club Canada Executive Director Stephen Hazell. "CEAA plainly does
not include the infamous "Henry VIII" clause that would allow the Harper
government to override CEAA however it wants. The Conservative government of the
day never sought the power to amend CEAA through regulations, and the 1992
Parliament never agreed to such a provision. I know; unlike Jim Prentice I was
there."

"The federal government is getting out of environmental
assessment at the very time that sustainable development has become almost
universally recognized as essential to human well-being in this century. I
simply cannot understand why Minister Prentice is deliberately blinding himself
to the environmental impacts of major infrastructure projects," said
Hazell.   

The government was served with formal legal
Notice of Application last week and the case is expected to be heard in Federal
Court later this year.

For more information, please download a copy of
the Notice of Application at www.ecojustice.ca or
contact:

Albert Koehl, Lawyer, Ecojustice (416) 573-4258 (cell) [French
or English interviews]
Justin Duncan, Lawyer, Ecojustice (416) 368-7533 ext
22
Stephen Hazell, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada (613) 241-4611 ext
238; (613) 724-1908 (cell)

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