Evironmental Law Enforcement Measures And Effectiveness Essay

Evironmental Law: Enforcement Measures And Effectiveness Essay, Research Paper Evironmental Law: Enforcement Measures and Effectiveness Pollution, why is it still running rampant in our environment today ?

Evironmental Law: Enforcement Measures And Effectiveness Essay, Research Paper

Evironmental Law: Enforcement Measures and Effectiveness

Pollution, why is it still running rampant in our environment today ?

Are there no laws to control or stop it ? In regards to these questions,

Canada has a great many laws to stop and regulate pollution. But despite this,

why is it still happening. What are Canada’s so called enforcement measures and

are they effective ? We have the Environmental Bill of Rights and the Canadian

Environmental Protection Act, just to name a few. Sure some polluters break

these laws and get caught, but all they get is a slap on the wrist; why is that

? Some even have the gual to pollute again. Acid rain and hazardous wastes

are just two of the many problems plaguing our environment today, but nothing is

really being done about them; why ? Finally what is the polluters point of

view in all of this ?

To begin with, in some areas there are both federal and provincial

legislation to ensure that companies and individuals respect the environment.

Federally the central piece of legislation in Canada is the Canadian

Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). “CEPA is the consolidation of five

statutes: The Environmental Contaminants Act, the Air Quality Act, the Canada

Water Act, the Ocean Dumping Act, and the Department of the Environment Act.” (

Muldon, 1995, p. 23) The CEPA contains important penalties and sanctions;

provisions for the collection of information and for evaluation; provisions for

the control of importation and exportation of toxic substances; and provisions

for the reduction of wastes, the cleanup of coastal zones, the protection of the

ozone layer; the reduction of acid rain and urban smog; and provisions for the

development of regulations. All provinces and territories have enacted their

own legislation, establishing general environmental rights and responsibilities;

but the level of environmental protection established is not equal all across

Canada. Generally, it can be said that each province and territory regulates the

discharge of contaminants into the environment by requiring licenses and permits

and by invoking penalties. The regulated matters include environmental impact

assessment, waste management, drinkable water standards, and land conservation.

(Morrison, 1991, p24) Also, provinces and territories deal with several other

matters indirectly affecting the environment, such as the regulation of

commercial or industrial activities like mining, agriculture, and transportation.

In Ontario, the four main statutes are the Ontario Environmental Protection

Act (OEPA), the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), the Ontario

Environmental Assessment Act, and the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA). OEPA

provides for the protection of the natural environment, which is defined very

broadly. It also creates the Environmental Appeal Board. “OWRA is concerned

with the protection of all surface waters and ground waters. Both acts prohibit

the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment that causes or is

likely to cause an adverse effect or that impairs or is likely to impair the

quality of the water.” (Morrison, 1991, p. 33) The Ontario Environmental Bill

of Rights provides for increased public participation rights and creates the

Environmental Bill of Rights Commissioner. Moreover the EBR was established in

1993. “It represents a new era in environmental decision making…one

characterized by enhanced public participation, citizen empowerment, and greater

accountability of decision makers.” (Muldon, 1995, p.15) The new rights and

responsibilities in the legislation require politicians, policy makers, lawyers,

activists, and citizens to rethink and modify their usual ways of looking at

environmental problems. It is hoped that the EBR will promote positive

strategies such as waste reduction, energy and water conservation, and “green”

industry development. (Muldon, 1995, p.16) Finally, there are also many

specific laws dealing with specific industries. Such as the Pesticides Act, The

Ontario Water Resource Act, the Energy Efficiency Act etc.

What happens to polluters who break these laws ? In Ontario most

environmental offenders break the laws outlined in the EPA. When they do, the

companies or persons are charged with the offenses committed and brought to

trial. In “Ontario there were 1, 546 charges laid in 1994 about half of those

were convicted. ” (Parker, March, p.36) When found guilty the judge has a

number of ways to punish the offender. One of the ways are through fines. “In

the CEPA it permits fines of up to $1, 000, 000 for some offenses, while in the

most serious cases there is no ceiling on the amount of the fine that can be

raised.” (Poch, 1989, p. 56) In the OEPA there is no set limit at which fines

can be set. In 1994 there was $ 2, 427,833 in total fines paid by offenders.

“The largest environmental fine in a contested hearing was to Robert Brown and

Robert Len Brown Construction Ltd. Fines had been set at $364,000 for numerous

offenses resulting from the illegal storage of tires. In addition, Mr. Brown

was handed another $250,000 worth of related costs for a total of $614,000.”

(Small, 1993, p. A10) Mr. Brown and his company since then have not been

offenders and due to their fines have learned a great lesson. Other companies

however are more stubborn. In 1992 Canadian Pacific Express & Transport Ltd, a

company which engages in the carrying of goods between Ontario and other

provinces was fined $ 50,000 for discharging a contaminant into the environment.

And again in 1993 the company was found guilty of allowing the Discharge of

Radio-Active Barium Carbonate Powder into the natural Environment. (Section

13(1) of EPA) They were fined $90,000. (Sterling, 1995, p. B3) Now by

examining this company is there a reason why it committed a crime against the

environment a second time ? The most obvious answer would be that they didn’t

learn their lesson the first time. It is not really their fault though, because

the fine didn’t really hurt them enough to make them really think about what

they did. This is the idea shared my most of the repeat offenders. Why are

these offenders getting a slap on the wrist for such horrible crimes. A man who

kills someone in first degree may get 25 years in prison, but why are these

companies who pollute the environment causing massive birth defects and

destroying animal and plant life getting only a $50,000 fine and less in some

cases ? The range in fines from individuals to companies is about $100 to

$50,000. What is wrong with this picture. These people are getting away with

serious offenses and paying little for it. We as a society can demand harsher

fines and laws which seriously punishes or cripples these offenders. Fines must

be implemented that hurt the company, that gives the company something to think

about. As it stands now, these fines are put as a cost of production. This is

very wrong, because in the end the consumers are the ones who pay for these

companies negligence. To prove how ridiculously the companies/people are fined,

“Barney Buglyo was fined $300 for failing to prevent animal and/or insect life

from gaining access to a sewage system, and Lafarge Canada Inc. was fined only

$71, 000 for the illegally dumping of waste.” (Monchuk, 1994, p. B8) These are

just two of the hundreds of cases where fines just don’t exceed the crimes.

(Bueckert, 1990, p. A12) (Goar, 1995, p.B10) ( McAndrew, 1995A, p. A3)

Hazardous wastes represent about 20% of all wastes produced in Canada.

As with other wastes, the provincial governments play the major role in

regulating the management of hazardous wastes. “Under CEPA, the federal

government regulates the use, storage, and disposal of PCB’s (polycholorinated

biphenols) and other toxic substances. The federal government regulates the

import and export of hazardous waste and manages hazardous wastes on federal and

Indian lands and in federal facilities.” ( Canada, 1990, p. 45) Liability and

Enforcement of hazardous wastes can be seen federally and provincially under

CEPA, failure to give notice to import or export a hazardous waste is subject to

a maximum penalty of a CND$1 million fine and three years imprisonment.

“Penalties under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act can be a maximum of a

CND$100,000 fine and 2 years imprisonment. Under the federal Hazardous Products

Act, offenders are liable for a maximum fine of CND$1 million and two years

imprisonment.” ( Canada, 1990, p.55) Provincial legislation also set penalties.

For example, the Quebec Dangerous Wastes Regulations provide for maximum fines

up to CND$100,000, and two years imprisonment. “The Export and Import of

Hazardous Wastes Regulations, 1992, establishes standards for insurance

liability, including damage and clean-up cost coverage of at least CND$5

million.” ( Hall, 1995, p.B4)

What is the polluters position in all of this. Their excuses for their

acts is that with higher environmental safety standards it will cost more money

and product prices will go up. As well they say that lay off will soon follow

because keeping up an environmentally friendly business that a lot of money, and

“we have to find it somewhere”. ( Moloney, 1995, p.A3)

In conclusion, these environmental laws Canada has in place are doing a

mediocre job at combating polluters. The laws themselves are effective, but the

punishments must be drastically change. Through case examples it can be seen

that there are many repeat offenders and fines for these offenders that don’t

fit the crimes. Canada and the world must send a direct message to these

polluters by raising fines and making examples of these law breakers. Media

must get involved to spread awareness of our problem. With all these things

together, then and only then will the environment be safe.


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