TORONTO – Public interest groups are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that sets a damaging precedent for the future of environmental assessment law in Canada.
“This ruling shows there’s a need to modernize Canada’s environmental assessment legislation. While Canada’s environmental assessment laws were designed to ensure that the most serious environmental effects are reviewed, this ruling allows significant risks like nuclear waste and accidents to be ignored before building a nuclear reactor,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace.
The Supreme Court of Canada denied the groups’ request to consider overturning a Federal Court of Appeal ruling which the groups say allow regulators to avoid careful consideration of serious environmental and human health impacts during environmental assessment.
In 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal set an alarming precedent allowing regulators to avoid careful consideration of serious environmental and human health impacts associated with a plan to build new nuclear reactors at the Darlington site on Lake Ontario — including the consequences of a major nuclear accident and radioactive waste — during the project’s environmental assessment.
“The recent negative shift in Canada’s environmental assessment regime, combined with some unfortunate case law has set a very low bar regarding the extent to which human health and environmental impacts need to be considered during project reviews. This needs to be remedied,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
Lawyers from Ecojustice and the CELA represented Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, CELA, and Northwatch.