12 Jan Cindy’s List – Noteworthy environmental cases of 2009
Cindy’s List – Noteworthy environmental cases of 2009
By Cindy Chiasson
It’s that list time of year…you know, top movies/songs/shows/stories/etc, etc, etc of the past year. While most of those lists seem to be little more than space fillers for the media, every so often an item will catch my attention and I’ll think “Wow, I forgot all about that!” Interestingly, I was asked last week for my thoughts on significant environmental law cases of 2009. Now there’s a list that gets my notice! See what you think
- Kelly v. Alberta (Energy Resources Conservation Board), in which the Alberta Court of Appeal held that the ERCB was too narrow in deciding who was eligible to participate in sour gas hearings. It appeared that this decision would significantly expand public participation in future hearings until the ERCB issued its response, which corrected an error in their process that also happened to narrow the scope of those who might be eligible to participate in the future. For more on the ELC’s position on this decision, read Court of Appeal Opens ERCB’s Standing Door a Crack and watch Cindy Chiasson on Alberta Primetime.
- Alberta Sulphur Terminals Ltd. dealt with a proposed project to develop a sulphur forming and shipping facility. The Natural Resources Conservation Board reviewed the project and approved it as being in the public interest. Its detailed discussion of why and how it reached that decision is noteworthy, as that was rarely done in past decisions. I like this development because it’s consistent with recommendations the Centre made previously on decision-making in the public interest.
- Alberta Wilderness Association v. Canada (Environment) deals with the federal Species at Risk Act and how the Minister of Environment must identify and designate critical habitat in an endangered species recovery plan. The Federal Court held that the Minister must take a precautionary approach, as required in the Act, and use the “best information available”.
- Environmental Defence Canada v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is another case under the Species at Risk Act that dealt with critical habitat. The Federal Court confirmed that the Minister has no discretion in identifying critical habitat of endangered species and must do so based on the best available information to the extent possible.
- Great Lakes United v. Canada (Environment) affirms the duty of the federal Minister of Environment, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, to inform Canadians about the state of the environment by collecting and publishing pollution data.
Potential cases to watch for 2010 include the prosecutions of the duck deaths on Syncrude’s oil sands tailings pond and of the oil spill by CN into Lake Wabamun, as well as the anticipated ERCB decision on Petro-Canada’s proposal to run a pipeline near Kananaskis Country.
What environmental happenings did you find important in 2009? What will you be watching for in 2010?
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