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Court Ruling Leaves British Columbians Vulnerable to Oil Spills

Friday, May 24, 2019

Canada’s top court will be called on to resolve constitutionality of BC’s proposed law

VANCOUVER, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories — West Coast Environmental Law is disappointed in a BC Court of Appeal decision released today. Environmental lawyers say that the judgment, which holds that a proposed amendments to BC’s Environmental Management Act (EMA) are outside provincial authority, leaves British Columbians vulnerable to health, safety and environmental risks associated with increased transportation of heavy oil through the province.

BC’s proposed amendments included a permitting regime for companies that transport hazardous substances, such as diluted bitumen, through the province.

“Addressing the environmental challenges of our time will require effective action by all jurisdictions: federal, provincial and Indigenous,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel. “With this judgment, the BC Court of Appeal has turned back the clock on cooperative federalism, putting our health, safety and environment at risk.”

The BC government has announced that it plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Oil spills don’t respect borders, and neither does climate change. This decision is a loss for local communities and cooperative federalism and a win for centralized government.” said Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer. “It is also a slap in the face to Indigenous governments whose jurisdiction has been ignored. It will now be up to the Supreme Court of Canada to resolve these issues.”


For more information, please contact:

Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association