“Air Quality Alert for Today“, image by Gary Brown, used under Creative Commons Licensing.
In April, the US Environmental Protection Agency reported the release of “NEPAssist” as a:
“…part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to modernize and reinvigorate federal agency implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act through innovation, public participation and transparency. NEPAssist draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development. ‘NEPAssist helps users identify the possible impacts of federal projects on local environments and communities,’said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. ‘By making tools like NEPAssist available to the public, EPA is helping citizens to be involved in environmental decisions that affect their community.”
Another interesting use of the mapping tool which wasn’t mentioned by the EPA is the ability to see the non-attainment areas for any U.S. air quality control region that has posted its information online. Non-achievement of standards for ozone, lead, PM10 and PM2.5 can all be applied as layers to the maps.
Compare this tool with Canada’s current National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) mapping tool, which is not dynamic and is only current to 2010.
You can experiment with NEPAssist here, and read the press release here.
Professor Nigel Bankes, Professor of Law at the University of Calgary has penned a blog post describing the relationship between joint review panels (JRP) and the government, using the Northern Gateway Pipeline JRP as an example.
His post was prompted by a January 9, 2012 news release by the Honourable Joe Oliver, federal Minister of Natural Resources, who, among other statements, indicated that the current regulatory process is “broken”, due to the actions of “environmental and other radical groups”. The public hearings for the Northern Gateway Pipeline JRP opened on January 10th.
Professor Bankes details how the project can be rejected or approved by the JRP, the responsible authorities, and the government, under the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Soberly, he tried to “imagine the challenge facing [the Northern Gateway Pipeline] panel in convincing the community that the fix was not already in and that the job of the panel was to conduct a careful, independent and impartial review of the project”.
You can read his entire post, ‘The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel and the Governor in Council’ here.
On February 1, 2012, a three-member panel of the Environmental Review Tribunal issued its decision in Iburg v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, dismissing applications for EBR leave to appeal approval of the operation of a new waste transfer/processing facility at the landfill site located on Carp Road in the City of Ottawa. The wastetransfer/processing facility was approved on September 8, 2011 through an amendment to the Provisional Certificate of Approval that was previously issued for the Ottawa Landfill Site. That approval required that waste cease being disposed of at the site by September 30, 2011.
EBR leave to appeal applications were filed with the ERT on October 17 and 19, 2011. Leave to appeal was sought on the following grounds: 1) the amended Certificate failed to require waste diversion targets; 2) the issuance of the amended Certificate of Approval was premature in light of an ongoing environmental assessment respecting a new waste management facility at the site; 3) lack of adequate consultation; and 4) inadequate consideration of the impact of changed operations at the site with respect to drainage, traffic, noise, odour and vermin.
The ERT applied the two branch s.41 EBR leave to appeal test and its previous interpretation of that test as set out in Lafarge v. Ontario (Environmental Review Tribunal), (2008), 36 C.E.L.R. (3d) 191 (Ont. Div. Ct.). Ultimately, the ERT held that the applicants failed to meet the first branch of the s.41 EBR leave to appeal test with respect to all four grounds for leave to appeal that were advanced. As a result, the second branch of the s.41 EBR test was not addressed.
Read the entire decision here.
Albert is an Associate whose practice involves all aspects of Renewable Energy and Environmental Law. He joined Foglers in 2010 after 10 years with Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment. He is a graduate of York University’s joint MES/LLB program and also has a B.Sc. in Biology from York. He can be reached at email@example.com or 416-864-7602.