Posted on November 7, 2022 (updated: November 7, 2022)

Federal impact assessment law must be upheld

Picture of an oil field with blueprints in the background

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Ecojustice has been granted intervenor status to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and its regulations.

Intervening in its own name, Ecojustice will appear before the highest court in Canada to defend an important environmental law that protects people across the country and the air, water, and land that we all depend on.

The IAA is a key tool for the federal government to assess and account for the environmental impacts of major projects like port terminals, mines, and pipelines.

This case is a crucial test of the ability of the federal government to enforce laws that protect the environment in the face of a massive loss of biodiversity, a climate crisis, and widespread pollution.

The Alberta government challenged the IAA before the Alberta Court of Appeal and received a decision in its favour in May 2022. The case is now being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

At a time when Canada is already facing the impacts of the climate emergency, it is essential that good environmental laws protect everyone from coast to coast to coast.

All governments, including the federal government, have a responsibility to take action to avert disastrous wildfires, massive loss of biodiversity, and dangerous pollution impacting communities. The IAA is an important tool for environmental protection and must be upheld for the benefit of everyone in Canada.

The IAA brings important environmental issues associated with proposed projects to light early in the planning phase, which helps stakeholders find solutions and avoids headaches and litigation in the future.

The law provides clear criteria for determining whether a project’s effects in federal jurisdiction are in the public interest: it must consider the project’s sustainability, Canada’s ability to meet its environmental obligations and its commitments in respect of climate change, cumulative effects and, and Indigenous rights.

It provides greater transparency. No more decision-making behind closed doors for reasons that are not disclosed. Decision makers must disclose the reasons for their decision.

Joshua Ginsberg, Ecojustice lawyer, said:

“At a time when Canada must have a unified response to the interlocking environmental crises, it is important that all levels of government recognize the need for strong impact assessment laws.

“The IAA is a good piece of legislation that provides greater protection to our environment and is a law that people from across Canada worked hard to get right.

“Provincial governments should not stand in the way of a progressive law that benefits everyone.”

About:

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.

For media inquiries

Sean O’Shea, communications strategist | Ecojustice
416-368-7533 ext. 523, soshea@ecojustice.ca

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the most pressing environmental issues delivered straight to your inbox.