Environmental groups are suing the Ontario government for its decision to exempt major threats to species at risk from the province’s Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Ecojustice lawyers, acting on behalf of Ontario Nature and Wildlands League, have filed a lawsuit in Divisional Court alleging that the Ontario government acted unlawfully by making a regulation that undermines the ESA.
Ontario Regulation 176/13, which came into force under the ESA on July 1, 2013, is a tremendous blow to species protection.
The new regulatory changes harm species by allowing major industries - including forestry, energy transmission, housing, oil and gas pipelines, mineral exploration and mine development, transit, wastewater management companies - to avoid strict standards intended to protect at-risk species and their habitats.
“With this regulation, the Ontario government has failed to deliver on its promise to defend endangered species and undermined the role of the legislature by amending the Act through regulation,” said Anastasia Lintner, staff lawyer for Ecojustice. “The best way to safeguard at-risk species is to enforce the ESA as intended.”
The lawsuit is based on two main grounds:
1. The regulatory exemptions undermine the ESA’s very purposes, which are “to protect species that are at risk and their habitats, and to promote the recovery of species at risk.”
2. The Minister of Natural Resources, David Orazietti, failed to consider the impacts of the regulations on each of the 155 species listed under the Act as either endangered or threatened before recommending that the regulations be made by Cabinet. More....