Ecojustice Case – Climate change Case Status: Victory

Helping James Bay Cree protect Great Whale River

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)Client
Great Whale River, Quebec.
Great Whale River, Quebec. Photo: Alanah Heffez via Flickr

Hydro-Quebec proposed Great Whale River project would have included 138 dams and dikes to generate electricity to be sold to New York.

We intervened in a lawsuit brought by the Grand Council of the Crees and the Cree Regional Authority. The Supreme Court of Canada was asked to consider whether the National Energy Board was lawfully allowed to segment the environmental review process and thereby avoid looking at the overall effect of the project that case. In February 1994, the SCC ruled unanimously that the federal government could not take a narrow approach to its environmental review and the project was subsequently shelved.

Why was Ecojustice Involved?

In this case, there were several important legal issues under consideration related to how the National Energy Board reviews projects. We knew that the outcome of the case would have repercussions for how the environmental impacts of future energy projects would be assessed across the country.

What does this victory mean?

Not only was the Supreme Court of Canada decision the final nail in the coffin of the Great Whale River Hydroelectricity project, it also made it clear that the federal government must fully consider environmental impacts when doing project reviews and the recognized the NEB’s authority to assess the overall environmental costs of granting a power export license.


Photo by Alanah Heffez via Flickr.

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