Toxics Watch was founded in 1986 as "a needed and timely response to the growing use of toxic chemicals in our province." Toxics Watch's first project was to sponsor and co-ordinate the first Toxic Round Up in the City of Edmonton. Subsequently, the City took over the program, and Toxics Watch played an active role in the annual event until 1994, when the first Eco Station was opened and the Round Up discontinued. Toxics Watch took a lead opposition role in the NRCB hearings looking into the expansion of the Swan Hills hazardous waste facility, and the subsequent decision to allow the importation of hazardous wastes from out of province. In recent years, Toxics Watch's attention has swung towards Alberta's energy industry, especially oil sands development in the Wood Buffalo region, and coal-fired electricity generation near Lake Wabumun.
Toxics Watch actively participates in municipal, provincial, national, and international consultations to review existing and develop new public policy on pollution issues. Multi-stakeholder processes, such as the Clean Air Strategic Allaince (CASA), allow government, industry, and ENGOs to collaborate and achieve consensus-based solutions. Toxics Watch also consults with industry, advocating for more eco-efficient development through industrial ecology, pollution prevention, and continous improvement; and for better corporate environmental responsibility.
From the Swan Hills NRCB hearings to numerous EUB hearings into new oil sands facilities has been an intervenor in quasi-judicial processes overseeing industrial development in Alberta. In conjunction with other environmental groups, Toxics Watch has also sought to improve environmental protection through the court system.
From its formation in 1986, Toxics Watch has developed and delivered community projects such as the Toxic Round Up, composter distribution, and a public advisory service. Prime Minister Harper’s new green plan steers Canada away from its international obligations and follows Alberta’s “lead” by rejecting the targets and timelines of the Kyoto Protocol The federal plan is startlingly similar to regulations released by the Alberta government last month and, according to environmental groups, will be just as ineffective in achieving real emissions reductions within the Kyoto timeframe.
Today the Pembina Institute, the Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association (FMEA) formally withdrew from the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA). After eight years of effort and consistent failure to meet deadlines for recommending systems to protect the region’s environment, CEMA has lost all legitimacy as an organization and process for environmental management in the oil sands. Environmental groups are headed back to court tomorrow to defend a precedent-setting court victory that has drawn further attention to the massive environmental impacts of Alberta’s booming tar sands. Earlier this year the groups had argued that the environmental assessment of Imperial Oil’s massive Kearl Tar Sands Project was legally flawed and that the province should put the brakes on tar sands development until proper safeguards are in place.
While Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is in Washington this week seeking to assure Americans that there are no environmental problems associated with dirty tar sands development, Canadian environmental organizations are going to court tomorrow to challenge a massive tar sands operation north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Imperial Oil's proposed Kearl Tar Sands project includes an open-pit mine that would strip 200 square kilometres of Boreal Forest and contribute to the devastation of the region's landscape and wildlife. Ecojustice lawyer Sean Nixon will be in court on behalf of the Pembina Institute, Sierra Club of Canada, the Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and the Prairie Acid Rain Coalition, arguing that the environmental assessment of the open-pit mine project was flawed and that the project should be halted until a proper assessment has been completed.
Bill C-469, the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, is currently before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Unfortunately, this important bill is being stalled in the Committee by some committee members. Environmental rights are recognized in 170 countries around the world, and are enshrined in legislation in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Ontario and Quebec. Environmental rights should be extended to all Canadians equally. If you support environmental rights for all Canadians, please take a few minutes to write to the members of the Committee and let them know that you support bill C-469, the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights.
The bill requires the federal government to take action to protect Canadians' right to a healthy environment. It ensures access to environmental information and the right to participate in decisions related to the environment. It expands the right to request investigations of environmental offences and bring environmental issues to the courts. It provides whistleblower protection for employees. It ensures accountability by giving Canadians the right to bring the federal government to court when it fails to enforce environmental laws. Please help. Write to all members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and tell them you want them to pass Bill C-469.
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