Energy and Resources

New rules give community based power projects priority access to feed-in-tariffs

July 13th, 2012 by Iler Campbell LLP

On July 11, 2012 the Minister of Energy issued a Directive to the Ontario Power Authority to allow greater access to feed‑in‑tariff (FIT) contracts for community based power projects.  The new rules will keep private sector projects in-check by ensuring 50 percent community based equity.

The Directive provides for priority to applications with a greater than 50 percent community equity interest held by a co‑operative where at least 50 or more members are local property owners, or where there is greater than 50 percent Aboriginal equity participation.  The OPA will offer contracts to these projects before offering contracts to other projects in the application window.

The OPA is also directed to amend the Community Energy Partnership Program eligibility requirements to align with the eligibility requirements for community projects under the FIT Rules.  The OPA shall allocate up to $1 million annually for education funding and capacity building.

The changes are great news for community power projects.  Iler Campbell LLP represents and advises organizations on a variety of community power projects.  For more information on this topic please contact us!

Bill C‑38 creates open season on Canada’s natural environment

June 8th, 2012 by Paula Boutis and Laura Bowman

On April 26, 2012, the federal government tabled Bill C-38, the 2012  Budget Bill.  The Bill was reviewed before the Standing Committee on Finance which just released its report recommending that part 3 of the Bill be carried as written.  Part 3 of Bill C-38 contains several significant changes to federal environmental legislation, including:

  • the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,
  • the National Energy Board Act,
  • the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act,
  • the Nuclear Safety and Control Act,
  • the Fisheries Act,
  • the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and
  • the Species at Risk Act.

Here we describe highlights of the two most important legislative changes, to CEAA and the Fisheries Act.

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Aggregate hearings should include rural residents who are most affected

May 10th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

Our client, North Dufferin  Agricultural  and Community Taskforce, Inc. (NDACT) was surprised on Friday May 4 to learn that the Standing Committee on General Government would be commencing the review of the Aggregate Resources Act the following Monday May 7, and that aggregate resource reps were already informed and scheduled to appear.

To make matters worse, no hearings were scheduled in rural communities.  These communities are most affected by the policies in the ARA, which unfairly favour aggregate extraction over other policy objectives.  Our client wrote to the Standing Committee on General Government asking for more time for a more thorough review and for rural hearings.  This request was entirely reasonable and was granted yesterday when the Committee moved to request travelling hearings.

Read Carl Cosack, chair of NDACT’s letter here.

Important Environmental Law Amendments in the Ontario 2012 budget bill

April 17th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

The Ontario Government recently introduced Bill 55 – Strong Action for Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2012.   Budget bills are exempt from the posting and public consultation requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights.  As a result, the public does not have the same opportunities to contribute to decision making when a number of environmentally significant laws are changed in a budget Bill.  Overall the budget Bill adds exemptions both in law and through additional regulatory powers to a variety of environmental processes.

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Ontario Government will amend Endangered Species Act to reflect how the Ministry of Natural Resources actually works: without regard for science

March 29th, 2012 by Paula Boutis

The Ontario Government released its budget on March 27, 2012.  In it, it stated the following:

Ministry of Natural Resources Transformation

To enable the Ministry of Natural Resources to transform the stewardship and conservation of Ontario’s natural resources in the most fiscally responsible way, the ministry is proposing to:

  • transform key parts of its legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines with a view to streamlining and automating permitting processes and requirements;
  • conduct resource management with a stronger regional focus and fewer field offices; and
  • redesign its science and delivery activities to shift away from a species-by-species approach to a risk-based ecosystem/regional approach.

The Province is proposing amendments to the Endangered Species Act that maintain its commitment to protecting species at risk while streamlining approvals and permitting.

Earlier this year, we wrote about Sierra Club Canada’s application in the courts challenging the first permit issued to harm species at risk and/or their habitat under the Endangered Species Act (Act) After a loss at the Divisional Court, Sierra Club Canada sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal, which was denied.

As counsel for Sierra Club Canada, I had an in‑depth look at how the first permit was issued to harm species or their habitat for the Windsor Essex Parkway (WEP).  I can certainly attest to the fact that a lot of work was done by the Ministry of Natural Resources in “going through the process” required by the Act; but it was Sierra Club Canada’s conclusion, that when viewed objectively, one would be hard pressed to say that there would be no jeopardy to the recovery or survival of certain of the species at risk affected by the WEP, as the Endangered Species Act requires.  In particular, this was Sierra Club Canada’s view for three species affected by the project, Eastern Foxsnake (Carolinian Population), Butler’s Gartersnake, and Colicroot, a plant species.

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Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Participant Funding Announced

March 1st, 2012 by Iler Campbell LLP

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission participant funding program (pdf) was introduced in the 2011 federal budget bill.  Amendments to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act allow participants in CNSC hearings to apply for funding under the program.

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