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Province fails to meet legislated environmental targets

Ecology Action Centre report slams province for not fulfilling key points of progressive Environmental Goals Act

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In 2007, the Nova Scotia legislature unanimously passed the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, a piece of legislation that was celebrated around the country as a progressive approach to environmental stewardship. And that celebration was warranted---for the first time, it named specific regulatory goals---21 of them, over the next 20 years---that had to be met as a matter of law, and it made the connection between environmental and economic health.

But the legislation would be worthless, if the goals were ignored or watered down. As I wrote in January, the Act is worse than meaningless if the goals aren't met---ignoring or refusing to meet the goals is an exercise in cynicism of the first order, almost designed to turn people off from the possibility of government adequately addressing environmental issues.

Today, the Ecology Action Centre echoes my concern with publication of an assessment of the Act. "For the Centre, missing and messing with today’s goals calls into question the commitment to meeting future goals and undermines the credibility of the entire Act," says a statement accompanying the assessment. "The EAC appreciates that there may be legitimate delays or the need to review a goal, but such instances should be the rare exception, not the norm, i.e. missing or behind two out of the Act’s five first goals."

Specifically, EAC says the government has failed to meet the 2008 goal of having municipal drinking water supplies meet provincial standards, and, "apparently because of pressure from industry," the government has changed the terms of the requirement for all new residential construction to achieve an Energuide rating of 80 by 2011---as written in law, that requirement was to be mandatory; as amended, it is merely voluntary---completely worthless, as laws go.

Of the EGSPA deadlines that have arrived, three appear to be on target---it looks like the province will enact policies for wetland preservation and sustainable procurement by the end of the year, as required, and the goal for reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 20 percent below 2000 levels appears to be on schedule, but EAC notes that the published numbers don't consider emissions from transportation.

Progress on meeting the 16 other goals spelled out in the Act, all with deadlines of 2010 or later, is "mixed," says EAC.

See the entire EAC report here.

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