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Province fails to meet half of its 2010 environmental targets

The celebrated Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act doesn't hold much water.

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The government has failed to meet four of the eight environmental targets for 2010 established by provincial law. At issue is the celebrated Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which became law in 2007 with a unanimous vote from all three parties in the Nova Scotia legislature. EGSPA was intended as means to hold regulators and politicians accountable; it set out 19 specific environmental goals over the next 13 years, with the idea that flowery rhetoric about environmental stewardship could be checked against concrete action. In other words, the EGSPA targets give us a means to call politicians and policy makers on their environmental bullshit.

The good news for the just-concluded year of 2010 is that the province has met emission standards for sulphur dioxide, particulate matter and ozone, and has created a water resource management strategy.

The bad news is regulators have failed to produce a contaminated lands policy and a natural resources strategy, both of which were required by EGSPA by the end of last year. “Certainly we would have liked to be done by now, but this is an important strategy,” says Department of Environment spokesperson Lori Errington. “It takes time to get it right. We are still working on finalizing the strategy.”

The worse news is that two of the 2010 EGSPA targets have been abandoned completely. Last year, the Dexter government announced it had no intention of meeting mercury standards demanded by the act, because doing so would result in higher power bills---most of the mercury emitted in the province comes via Nova Scotia Power’s coal-burning power plants. Another 2010 EGSPA requirement, that the province adopt California-style emission standards for automobiles, has been quietly ignored as provincial policy makers realized they’d have to wait for federal action to impose stricter auto standards.

A complete analysis of the 19 EGSP goals is below.

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