RE: EBR Registry Number: AA04E0003
1. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper offers this comment under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights regarding the proposed Environmental Enforcement Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004.
2. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper supports the proposal for the following five reasons:
3. First, the proposal provides much-needed protection for Ontario?s waterways. There is currently an epidemic of spills in this province, and because of the unique, one-time nature of spill events, it is often difficult to gather the evidence needed to prove an environmental offence. In Sarnia, for example, there have been at least 800 spills in the last twenty years. Further, there were 6936 reported spills in the Toronto Region between 1988 and 2000, with 4059 of these incidents having measurable impacts.
4. Second, Waterkeeper believes that these Environmental Penalties are a fair and efficient tool for ensuring the people who have care and control over risky industrial infrastructure do not jeopardize access to clean water for others.
5. Third, in the event that industrial facilities do spill contaminants into Ontario?s waterways, the neighbouring communities will have ready access to funds for clean up and emergency response.
6. Fourth, this proposed legislation improves upon the previous Administrative Monetary Penalties proposal, which displaced existing legal protections.
7. Finally, this Environmental Penalties proposal is consistent with codes of conduct for other specialized sectors such as medicine, law, accounting, and professional sports.
8. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper offers the following four recommendations to strengthen the proposal:
9. First, close the tax loophole which allows companies to write off Environmental Penalties.
10. Second, develop a clear enforcement policy for the proposed legislation and commit the resources necessary to implement it effectively.
11. Third, publish an annual report for the public, which states the number of spills reported, the number of investigations conducted, the number of Penalties awarded, and the number of Penalties collected.
12. Fourth, when the regulations defining ?prescribed losses? and compensation procedures are drafted, use the EBR process to ensure meaningful public consultation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Waterkeeper & President