Polluters of Alberta will have a new force to reckon with this fall. Canada’s leading non-profit environmental law firm Ecojustice, formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund, is ramping up its presence in the province by launching an Alberta-based team of lawyers.
Barry Robinson and Karin Buss will set out to level the environmental playing field with law offices based out of Calgary and Edmonton respectively.
While Ecojustice has taken on several strategic lawsuits and advocacy efforts in Alberta over the past 17 years, recently its lawyers and scientists have grown increasingly concerned with the province’s rapid-growth and mounting pressure from oil sands developers.
The group made international headlines earlier this year when Ecojustice lawyer Sean Nixon won two significant court victories against Imperial Oil’s massive Kearl project in the oil sands. This spring, an investigative Ecojustice report by water expert and staff lawyer Randy Christensen raised alarm bells by providing a glimpse into Alberta’s perilous water future. Last winter, Ecojustice also successfully went to court to protect the habitat of the province’s endangered Piping Plovers.
“We have always defended the right of Albertans to a healthy, sustainable environment, but now that we have lawyers on the ground, the province’s polluters and lax regulators should beware,” said Ecojustice executive director Devon Page.
The new legal team will begin to tackle issues in Alberta this October, complementing Ecojustice’s national network of expert lawyers and scientists with offices in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.
Robinson joined Ecojustice following a career as an environmental consultant with knowledge in forest, watershed and waste management.
“The green movement is growing here,” Robinson said. “I’m looking forward to acting on behalf of Alberta’s environmentally-minded groups and residents.”
His impact will be bolstered by Environmental Law Centre past-president Buss, one of the country’s highly-recognized aboriginal and environmental lawyers.
Following on Ecojustice’s mandate, their presence will help to hold polluters and government accountable and ensure that Albertans have clean water, sustainable development and healthy communities for generations to come.