Several environmental groups are slamming the provincial government for approving exemptions for industry under the Endangered Species Act.
“This is the first major test of the new cabinet’s commitment to the environment, and they have failed,” said Dr. Anne Bell, director of conservation and education at Ontario Nature. “They have turned their backs on the province’s most imperilled wildlife, and at a time when the federal government is poised to do the same.”
Environmental organizations contend the new exemptions lower the standard of protection for endangered plants and animals across many industries, including forestry, pits and quarries, renewable energy, hydro, mining, infrastructure development, waste management, and commercial and residential development. The changes, according to critics, also dramatically reduce government oversight of activities affecting Ontario’s lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife.
“The scope of the exemptions is appalling,” said Amber Ellis, executive director of Earthroots. “The government has caved to industry and turned a deaf ear to all who believe in society’s duty to protect endangered species.”
The Liberal government insisted it is “simplifying” rules for landowners, municipalities and businesses under the Endangered Species Act, while it is “maintaining its place as a North American leader in species protection”.
On July 1, Ontario is implementing standardized rules and an online registry for what it considers low-risk activities.
The government announced changes include: More....