Prairie Acid Rain Coalition et al. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) et al., (2004) 257 F.T.R. 212 (FC)

JudgeRussell, J.
CourtFederal Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 25, 2004
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2004), 257 F.T.R. 212 (FC);2004 FC 1265

Prairie Acid Rain Coalition v. Can. (2004), 257 F.T.R. 212 (FC)

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2004] F.T.R. TBEd. SE.020

Prairie Acid Rain Coalition, The Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development and Toxics Watch Society of Alberta (applicants) v. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada and TrueNorth Energy Corporation (respondents)

(T-213-03; 2004 FC 1265)

Indexed As: Prairie Acid Rain Coalition et al. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) et al.

Federal Court

Russell, J.

September 16, 2004.

Summary:

TrueNorth Energy Corp. wanted to develop an oil sands extraction mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The development would require the destruction of a fish-bearing stream, Fort Creek, such that an authorization was required to destroy fish and fish habitat under s. 35 of the Fisheries Act. Under s. 5(1)(d) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), no authorization could be issued under s. 35 of the Fisheries Act before an environmental assessment was concluded under the CEAA. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was the responsible authority under the CEAA for the project, and therefore required to determine, pursuant to s. 15 of the CEAA, the scope of the project for environmental assessment purposes. The DFO scoped the project as being the destruction of Fort Creek and associated activities (the scoping decision). The DFO concluded that the environmental assessment under the CEAA should be conducted at the screening level (i.e., one of the types of assessment provided for in the CEAA). Three interested parties applied for judicial review, claiming that the DFO committed a reviewable error in defining the scope of the project too narrowly (i.e., the DFO limited the scope of the project to the destruction of Fort Creek rather than as an oil sands project). The interested parties claimed that by defining the scope of the project too narrowly, certain issues would not be considered during the environmental assessment such as, for example, the potential for the oil sands project's emissions to contribute to acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Federal Court dismissed the interested parties' judicial review application, where the DFO made no reviewable error in defining the scope of the project.

Pollution Control - Topic 1846.2

Environmental assessments or impact studies - Canadian Environmental Assessment Act - Scope of project - TrueNorth Energy Corp. wanted to develop an oil sands extraction mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta - The development would destroy a fish-bearing stream, Fort Creek, requiring authorization under s. 35 of the Fisheries Act - Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), s. 5(1)(d), no such authorization could be issued without an environmental assessment - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was the responsible authority under the CEAA for the project and, therefore, required to determine the scope of the project for environmental assessment purposes - The DFO scoped the project as being a creek destruction project (the scoping decision), requiring a CEAA environmental assessment at the screening level - Interested parties applied for judicial review, arguing that the DFO erred in defining the scope of the project too narrowly (i.e., as a creek destruction project as opposed to an oil sands project), by limiting the scope of the project to federal authority - The Federal Court refused to set aside the scoping decision, holding that the DFO made no reviewable error in defining the scope of the project - See paragraphs 1 to 256.

Cases Noticed:

Friends of the West Country Association v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) et al. (1999), 248 N.R. 25; 31 C.E.L.R.(N.S.) 239 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 61].

Friends of the Oldman River Society v. Canada (Minister of Transport and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans), [1992] 1 S.C.R. 3; 132 N.R. 321, refd to. [para. 63].

Murphyores Inc. Pty. Ltd. v. Commonwealth of Australia (1976), 136 C.L.R. 1 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 67].

Québec (Procureur général) v. Office national de l'énergie, [1994] 1 S.C.R. 159; 163 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 68].

Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canada (National Energy Board) - see Québec (Procureur général) v. Office national de l'énergie.

Ryan v. Law Society of New Brunswick, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 247; 302 N.R. 1; 257 N.B.R.(2d) 207; 674 A.P.R. 207; 2003 SCC 20, refd to. [para. 88].

Bow Valley Naturalists Society et al. v. Canada (Minister of Canadian Heritage) et al. (2001), 266 N.R. 169; 37 C.E.L.R. (N.S.) 1 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 89].

Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] S.C.R. 121, refd to. [para. 89].

Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817; 243 N.R. 22, refd to. [para. 89].

Tsawwassen Indian Band v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (1998), 145 F.T.R. 252 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 99].

Manitoba's Future Forest Alliance et al. v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (1999), 170 F.T.R. 161 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 147].

Milk Board (B.C.) v. Grisnich et al., [1995] 2 S.C.R. 895; 183 N.R. 39; 61 B.C.A.C. 81; 100 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 157].

Hamilton-Wentworth (Regional Municipality) v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (2001), 204 F.T.R. 161 (T.D.), affd. (2001), 284 N.R. 248 (F.C.A.), refd to. [paras. 166, 216].

Inverhuron & District Ratepayers' Association v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (2001), 273 N.R. 62 (F.C.A.), leave to appeal dismissed (2002), 289 N.R. 399 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 174].

Citizens' Mining Council of Newfoundland and Labrador Inc. v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (1999), 163 F.T.R. 36 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 176].

Environmental Resource Centre et al. v. Canada (Minister of the Environment) et al. (2001), 214 F.T.R. 94 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 208].

Lun v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1997] F.T.R. Uned. 729 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 224].

Ogunfowora v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) (1997), 129 F.T.R. 141 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 224].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, S.C. 1992, c. 37, sect. 5(1)(d) [para. 40]; sect. 15(1) [para. 36].

Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-14, sect. 35 [para. 39].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Procedure Manual, Responsible Authority's Guide (1994), generally [paras. 111, 192, 194, 204].

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Operational Policy Statement - Establishing the Scope of the Environmental Assessment (September 25, 1998), OPS-EPO/1-1998, generally [paras. 98, 180].

Hobby, Richard, Bourry and de Pencier, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: An Annotated Guide, pp. II-20, II-21 [paras. 84, 158]; II-54 [para. 181]; II-57 [para. 182].

Counsel:

Timothy Howard, for the applicants;

Bruce Hughson, for the respondent, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans;

Martin Ignasiak, for the respondent, TrueNorth Energy Corp.

Solicitors of Record:

Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Vancouver, British Columbia, for the applicants;

Department of Justice, Edmonton, Alberta, for the respondent, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans;

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, Edmonton, Alberta, for the respondent, TrueNorth Energy Corp.

This application was heard on May 25, 2004, at Edmonton, Alberta, before Russell, J., of the Federal Court, who delivered the following judgment on September 16, 2004, at Ottawa, Ontario.

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