Ecojustice Blog – Special Update Posted on May 22, 2018 (updated: May 23, 2018)

Courage in Action: 2018 Victories Report

Barry RobinsonBarry RobinsonLawyer
Dr. Elaine MacDonaldScientist
Margot VentonLawyer
Helicopter hovers dropping water on forest fire
Photo via iStock

The environmental challenges we face today are monumental. But when we have the courage to act boldly, they are surmountable. The victories we share in our annual report exemplify what we can achieve together when we put courage into action. Read on to learn about how your support enabled bold legal action to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.

Climate change

Prolonged drought. State-of-emergency floods. Raging wildfires. The climate crisis is here and now. But even in the face of what can feel like an unrelenting onslaught of bleak news, we are optimistic.

From the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the coast of British Columbia, we’re inspired by courageous communities leading the charge to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground and combat climate change.

You are a critical part of the solution too. Together, we forced TransCanada to pull the plug on its Energy East pipeline project. Your support enabled a winning legal strategy that led to a reset of the project’s tarnished review process, and ultimately dealt a series of fatal blows to TransCanada’s pipe dreams.

This victory will keep more than 4,686 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere, limit tar sands expansion, and protect the drinking water of more than five million Canadians.

Fighting Kinder Morgan

You gave us another vital boost when Ecojustice went to court to stop Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline. The historic hearing — the longest in Federal Court of Appeal history — was the result of the combined efforts of First Nations communities, local municipalities, and environmental groups.

As we await the court’s decision, an Indigenous-led resistance on Burnaby Mountain has made it clear that local residents will not back down in the fight against Kinder Morgan any time soon.

The stakes in the fight for a safe climate and a just energy transition are too high to leave subject to political whim. That governments, regulators, and industry groups continue to double down on high-carbon projects and use them as bargaining chips strongly signals that legal action — led by the people, for the people — may be our best bet to safeguard the climate for future generations.

We have a collective responsibility to summon the courage to meet this enormous challenge head-on. With you as our partner, we’re ready to get to work.

Healthy Communities

Every 35 minutes someone in Canada dies due to human-caused air pollution, according to Health Canada’s own estimates. Indigenous communities often bear more than their fair share of this harm.

But in Ontario’s Chemical Valley, where members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation breathe some of the most polluted air in all of Canada, your support is helping 25-year-old Vanessa Gray fight this insidious, systemic injustice.

Together, we helped Vanessa force the Ontario government to investigate a massive flaring incident at Imperial Oil’s refinery in Chemical Valley. Now, affected residents will finally get clarity around what happened at the refinery and how government intends to address the incident.

Your support also prompted the Ontario government to fund a long-overdue health study examining the effects of air pollution on the residents of Chemical Valley.
Ontario’s commitment came after Global TV aired Canada’s Toxic Secret, an investigative report that cast national attention on the situation in Chemical Valley and drew upon documents obtained by Ecojustice through Freedom of Information requests.

The documentary also introduced viewers to Ada Lockridge — a courageous Ecojustice client and Aamjiwnaang First Nation member — and broadcast her legal fight for the right to a healthy environment in the face of extreme pollution.

Recognizing environmental rights

At the national level, we celebrated a breakthrough moment when the federal committee tasked with reviewing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act agreed that this important law should be updated and formally recognize your right to a healthy environment.

When we launched our right to a healthy environment campaign eight years ago, few people believed the idea would gain traction with Canadians and government. This breakthrough signifies that attitudes are changing.

With you as our partner, we will continue to empower communities with legal tools to ensure that no one living in Canada is afraid to breathe air, drink water, or eat food from the earth.


Canada’s wildlife are in peril. From bees to boreal caribou and blue whales, species are in decline.

The good news is that there are laws that can help us address this biodiversity crisis. But the law must be enforced to be truly effective. When enforcement lags, Ecojustice steps in.

This year, your support made it possible for Ecojustice to partner with environmental groups, Indigenous communities and scientists to give voice to more than 4,842 animal and plant species.

On the east coast, you give voice to the beluga whale, leatherback sea turtle and more than 4,000 other species through our lawsuit to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Your support also helped us launch our biggest species-at-risk lawsuit ever, and give voice to the 37 Ontario species, including the mountain lion and Cerulean warbler.

On the west coast, you give voice to five species of Pacific wild salmon. Your support has allowed us to represent independent biologist Alexandra Morton in a lawsuit to protect wild salmon from piscine reovirus, a highly contagious virus found in 80 per cent of farm fish. In recent months, concerns over fish farms have led Washington State legislators to ban open-net farming of Atlantic salmon and the ‘Namgis First Nation to file a parallel lawsuit that buoys our case.

Protecting pollinators

Finally, pollinators — including Canada’s 800 bee species — will have their day in court, thanks to you. In 2017, Ecojustice lawyers defeated multiple attempts by the federal government and pesticide companies to shut down our lawsuit aimed at protecting pollinators from harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.

Together, we’re fighting to ensure regulators give due weight to science, so that pollinators — responsible for one in every three bites of food you eat — are not recklessly endangered.

In Silent Spring, renowned author and biologist Rachel Carson gave voice to nature, outlining the threat DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) posed to entire species, and ignited the modern environmental movement. By bravely speaking out, she compelled the U.S. government to more closely regulate and eventually ban this harmful substance.

Today, the Ecojustice community carries Carson’s legacy forward by being a courageous and outspoken voice for nature. Together, we speak out in court — for species and ecosystems — so that biodiversity can thrive.

Read the report in full

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Build the case for a better earth

Thanks to the support of people like you, Ecojustice goes to court to protect what we value most — the air, land and water that sustains all life. Make your gift today and support bold litigation for a brighter environmental future.

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