Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (“Waterkeeper”) has reviewed the Policy Proposal Notice and supporting materials regarding the Proposed Ministry of the Environment Regulations to Implement the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009. We offer the following analysis and recommendations for your consideration:
Outreach efforts should be made to ensure that individuals and organizations with an interest in the various issues - especially environmental assessments and waste diversion - are consulted.
The changes to environmental assessment regulation should be re-posted to the Environmental Registry, clearly identiﬁed, and subject to an additional public consultation period.
All proposals regarding waste diversion and renewable energy should be re-posted to the Environmental Registry, clearly identiﬁed, and subject to an additional public consultation period.
Remove the provision for avoiding minimum setbacks. In the alternative, impose a requirement that those renewable energy projects which do not comply with minimum setbacks be subject to an independent environmental assessment and/or independent hearing process. This process must include public notice, participation, and appeal rights. This process must provide for written decision-making.
Ministry of the Environment staff should also be required to conduct site visits, in order to groundtruth the information submitted by the proponent.
Waterkeeper remains concerned that the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and its associated regulations and policies are unresponsive to important decision-making considerations such as fairness, transparency, public consultation, and the paramountcy of ensuring clean air, water, and healthy ecosystems. Our recommendations are intended to help improve the proposed reuglations. We would like to add, however, that it is not clear that decisions made regarding renewable energy projects would withstand the test of a legal challenge unless clear and genuine consideration for due process and environmental protection are afforded at every step of the decision-making process.
Read the original submission to the Ministry of the Environment here.