Environmental Blog

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Releases to the Environment, Hefty Fines, and Controversial Regulations

Posted by on 4:09 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Attempts to create a safer workplace and reduce risks of releases are as old as mankind.  The Code of Hammurabi from about 1750 BCE addressed building codes, and Lloyds of London’s first registry addressed safety and risk dating back to 1834. Today, we have entire disciplines devoted to reducing these risks.  We also have laws and regulations with respect to chemical handling, management, and disposal. Through modern safety and risk management practices, we have greatly reduced human health and environmental risks.  Companies spend a lot of...

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Supreme Court of Canada Decision on Environmental Liability will Impact Lenders

Posted by on 6:38 pm in Blog | 0 comments

It was one year ago that we shared what we believed was an important case before the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).  See Supreme Court of Canada Considers Environmental Liability Case.  We, along with others, suggested that this case had potentially far-reaching consequences. On January 31, 2019, the SCC handed down their much-anticipated decision in Orphan Well Association v. Grant Thornton Ltd. (“The Redwater Decision”).  Redwater refers to Redwater Energy Corporation.  This is a complex case with many legalities – we are simply touching on...

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Canadian Financial Institutions and the Paris Agreement: An Ambitious 3-Year Plan

Posted by on 2:46 pm in Blog | 0 comments

I remember hearing an astrophysicist say that there are 76 quadrillion tons of biodeposits on the earth… coal, oil, natural gas, metals, etc.  I’m not sure how accurate this number is, but I’ll take his word for it. These biodeposits play a key role in human civilization and allow life to flourish.  They provide nutrients for plant growth which in turn feeds other animals.  The plants provide life-giving oxygen and use carbon dioxide that is increasingly more abundant in the atmosphere.  Too much of a good thing, however, can cause...

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Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, and Proposed Legislation

Posted by on 7:20 pm in Blog | 0 comments

In what is being called “Investing in Jobs for Canada’s Middle Class,” sweeping regulatory changes were proposed last fall (November 2018) in Ottawa by the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau. Proposed Changes by Minister of Finance As reported on CTV News, “Delivering his speech on the fall economic statement in the House of Commons, Morneau (Minister of Finance) cited global uncertainty tied to ongoing trade disputes and spoke directly to the pressure to match U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which he described as aggressive.” The...

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It’s The Water, Stupid

Posted by on 6:01 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Former U.S. President, William Jefferson Clinton, famously coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”  This phrase has been modified numerous times over the years, including “It’s the ecology, stupid” (Journal, Nature).  The general premise of this phrase is focus on the fundamentals.  With numerous issues involving water quality in Canada, as well as globally, it may be more appropriate to say that our (environmental) focus should be more narrow – our water. In fact, impacts to surface water continue to be a significant concern in...

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The MECP Issues Their Environmental Protection Plans

Posted by on 7:52 pm in Blog | 0 comments

According to Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), the “Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generation, A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan,” is a “…clean break from the status quo.” According to Mr. Phillips, “We understand the pressure Ontarians feel with rising costs of living as well as skyrocketing energy costs that have hurt our economy and our competitiveness.  They are understandably frustrated to see their hard-earned tax-dollars being put towards policies and programs that don’t...

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Off-Site Contamination: Are you responsible for the cleanup?

Posted by on 1:33 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Who pays for the assessment and remediation of contamination in Ontario, especially when that contamination has migrated off site?  If you said it’s the responsible party, you are only partly right. Who pays and how to best protect yourself and your company has been a subject we have discussed several times in the past (see these blogs on environmental liability issues). Whether the responsible party, the existing owner, or tenants at the property pay (for example when groundwater or vapour contamination moves off site) was central to a case...

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Two Current Environmental Issues and Identifying the Source of Pollution

Posted by on 6:26 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Environmental or legislative issues, and any level of approval they may enjoy, will vary based on geography, industry, and a variety of other factors.  Cases in point, Bill C-69 and algal blooms. Officially, Bill C-69 goes by the not-so-short title, “An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.” Opposition to Bill C-69 Not everyone is “a fan” of Bill C-69, especially in Alberta.  Despite its passage through the House...

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Do I Need to Register with the MECP’s Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR)?

Posted by on 8:03 pm in Blog | 0 comments

It’s been almost two years since the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) finalized regulation requiring facilities with air, noise, and odour emissions to register with the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). This regulation, entitled Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 1/17 of the Environmental Protection Act, dated January 2017, applies to all Ontario facilities not explicitly excluded in the regulation.  These excluded facilities, which are regulated elsewhere, are listed in Tables 1 and 2 below. Though it...

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The Court of Public Perception

Posted by on 12:14 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Environmental management issues go beyond a cut-and-dried reading and application of the regulations. Often there is more than just “scientific facts” and a strict reading of the regulations.  Sometimes perceptions and sentiment trump facts, and sometimes the regulations have not caught up with the science. This extra-regulatory approach to environmental management is often lumped under what is referred to as a social licence. Defining Social Licence The idea of a social licence is imprecise at best.  It’s not based on hard science or...

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