|A roundup of important new legislation, regulations, government announcements and court cases that we covered in the Environmental Compliance Insider in 2013.
LAW OF THE YEAR
In Oct. 2013, Québec and California signed an agreement outlining the steps and procedures to fully harmonize and integrate their respective cap-and-trade programs to be effective on Jan. 1, 2014. Since 2008, both jurisdictions have contributed to the design and drafting of various documents issued by the Western Climate Initiative and both their cap-and-trade programs have been designed along its guidelines.
CASE OF THE YEAR
Court Rejects City’s Defences to Failure to Get C of A for Work
A city had to undertake work in a zone that’s flooded for about 10 days each year. The city didn’t know whether it needed a C of A under the Environment Quality Act for the work. So a city representative brought in a consultant, who contacted the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks to discuss the issue and get advice. During a brief telephone conversation, a Ministry official verbally confirmed that a C of A wasn’t required for the city’s work. But this advice was incorrect. When the city proceeded with the work without a C of A, it was charged with an environmental violation. The court rejected the city’s due diligence defence. The defence had to be considered in light of relevant circumstances, including the representative’s professional experience. Despite his doubts about the need for a C of A, the only precaution he took was the short telephone conversation between the consultant and Ministry official. Other reasonable steps the city should’ve taken included providing plans or documentation to the official to ensure that he had all of the relevant information at hand before issuing advice and getting a written report from the consultant. The court also rejected the officially induced error defence because the official’s advice was based on incomplete information [Directeur des poursuites criminelles et penales v. Louiseville (Ville de),  QCCQ 675 (CanLII), Jan. 15, 2013].
OTHER NOTABLE CASES
Company Fined $285,000 for 26 Environmental Offences
A company repeatedly discharged wastewater containing a contaminant in violation of its certificate of authorization. It was convicted of 26 environmental violations and fined $285,000 Pour la majorité de ces contrevenants, des travaux de remise en état des habitats touchés ont été ou seront exigés.[Kerry (Canada) Inc., Govt. News Release, March 12, 2013].
Company & President Fined More than $37,000 for Refrigerant Violations
When Environment Canada enforcement officers inspected a cargo of 600 cylinders from China, they found that the cylinders contained chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC-22, or R22), a refrigerant whose importation was banned under the CEPA. The company that imported the cylinders and its president pleaded guilty to illegally importing cylinders of a controlled substance. The company was fined $30,000 and the president $7,200 [Velocity Inc. and Stéphane Poirier, Govt. News Release, Nov. 7, 2012].
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