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We're "Open for Business" Ontario tell polluters

New bill allows exemptions to environmental laws without public knowledge

by Tim Groves

image published under creative commons license at freefoto.com
image published under creative commons license at freefoto.com

On Thursday October 22nd, The Ontario Legislature passed the "Open for Business Act 2010". The new law takes away the public's right to know when companies are granted exemptions to Environmental laws.  Until now Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights allowed the public to review any requests and approval for exemption from Ontario's environmental laws.

"It's a rollback on the Ministry's role of protecting the environment and it is an attack on the public's rights, by not allowing them to comment on these pollution permits" Mark Mattson, the President of Ontario Waterkeeper, told the Toronto Media Co-op. "I don't think they want to be held accountable"
 
Mattson believes the changes will lead to around 70% of permits for exemption no longer being posted for the public to review. 
 
In the past Waterkeeper has challenged companies who apply for exemptions to environmental laws. When the Ontario government approved a plan by Lafarge to burn tires in a cement plant, Waterkeeper helped raise public awareness and mounted a court case which eventually reversed this decision. Under the new act similar approvals may be granted without the public ever finding out. 
 
"I think these changes are a direct result of the public's victory in the Larfarge case, to review comment and appeal decisions by the Ministry to issue these permits" said Mattson  "This [new law] says they can issue these permits without even telling the public and the ability to appeal has been extinguished." 
 
 
Past entries in the Ontario Environmental Registry can still currently be searched, click here to access the registry.  
 
To learn more about this piece of Legislation view John Bonnars article posted at Rabble.ca
 
More reporting on this matter soon.

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