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On April 9 and 10, the Ontario Divisional Court will hear an important appeal: do applicants for environmental approvals have to do more than meet MOE standards?

In Lafarge Canada v. Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, Lafarge and the Ministry of the Environment will be lined up on one side, with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and a group of neighbours on the other side. The MOE granted Lafarge a permit to use tires as fuel in its cement kiln, in place of fossil fuels. The projected emissions will meet MOE regulatory standards. But, to the invigorated Environmental Review Tribunal, that was not enough. In fact, they ruled, the MOE’s approach to air permits fell so far short of “enough” that no reasonable person could have issued Lafarge’s approval. For more on this groundbreaking ERT decision, see our Dawber comment on February 26.

The appeal is so important that two groups tried to intervene: a specially formed coalition of industries, the Industry Coalition for Environmental Fairness, and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. In February, the court ruled that both points of view would be adequately represented by the existing parties. However, the Divisional Court reversed this decision on April 4.  The Environmental Commissioner received leave to intervene on the role of the Ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values (adopted in broad terms under the Environmental Bill of Rights) in guiding approvals decisions.

Meanwhile, the ERT is pressing ahead with its hearing of the neighbour’s objections to Lafarge’s approval.

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