Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are Pollution Hotspots Legal in Ontario?

Pollution-iconImage via WikipediaPollution, hot spots and environmental justice (Dianne Saxe, Environmental Law and Litigation, Dec. 5, 2011

Also discussed here: Pollution, Hot Spots and Environmental Justice (Dianne Saxe, Slaw, Dec. 5, 2011)

Topping the reviews today is a blog post by a lawyer who examines the potential inconsistency of environmental law, as expressed by the 1993 Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, when applied to varying levels of air pollution across the province. Although she looked only at industrial examples (burning tires and stack emissions), the basic issue presented is whether the law could extend to differences in pollution at the neighbourhood level and, by extension in our mind, to pollution hotspots created by heavy traffic on urban public roads.

Key Quotes:

“Is it acceptable for legal pollution levels to be higher in some neighbourhoods than in others?”

“a Charter challenge … argues that Ministry of the Environment ongoing approval of multiple sources of pollution surrounding their Sarnia reserve violates their rights to life, liberty and security of the person and to equality”

“the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal had granted neighbours of a cement manufacturing facility leave to appeal permits, issued by the Ministry of the Environment, allowing Lafarge to burn tires, as fuel, at its cement manufacturing facility…The Tribunal found there was a failure on the part of the Directors to take into account “environmental consistency”.. consistency means that facilities should be regulated as necessary to limit environmental effects to a consistent level across Ontario”

“Air and water pollution levels do vary from place to place– for example, mountains and forests typically have cleaner air than highways or industrial areas. Is it unreasonable for regulators to allow different levels of pollution in different places, and if so when? Does this contravene the preamble to Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights,1993, S.O. 1993, ch. 28: “The people of Ontario have a right to a healthful environment”? Or not?”
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="93" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Pollution-icon[/caption]

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