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Great Lakes Article:

Federal Government Turns Over Pollution Policy to Polluters
New pollution advisory committee to be dominated by Canada's biggest
polluters, public interest marginalized
CNW Telbec
Published July 18, 2005

TORONTO, July 18 /CNW/ - Environmental groups from across Canada released a statement today outlining grave concerns about plans by Environment Canada to set up a special "Chemicals Sector Sustainability Table" to consult on pollution issues.

Co-chairs of the Chemicals Table will be the Deputy Minister of Industry
Canada and the VP of the Chemicals Division of Imperial Oil, relegating
Environment Canada to bystander status.

"This move shows that the federal government is determined to kowtow to industry at the expense of the public interest," said Dr. Rick Smith,
Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "The creation of this new table is particularly obscene given that Canada ranks as one of the worst countries in the industrialized world for many kinds of pollution. The problems and solutions are well known. Canadians need to see action from the federal government to immediately address this crisis, not more talk and delay."

The 21 environmental groups that signed the statement believe the
Chemicals Sector Table process is flawed and are declining to participate in this invalid process.

A copy of the full statement follows this news release.

Joint Statement on Environmental Group Participation in
Environment Canada's "Chemicals Table"

Environment Canada is seeking to establish a "Chemicals Sector
Sustainability Table" to advise on pollution issues and is seeking the
involvement of environmental organizations in this exercise. The undersigned respected environmental organizations, representing tens of thousands of Canadians, believe the "Chemicals Table" process is invalid. We decline to participate in the "Chemicals Table", and urge others to do the same, for the following reasons:

1. Canada is now ranked as one of the worst countries in the
industrialized world for a variety of important pollution
indicators by the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development. This terrible situation has been created
by industry intransigence and government timidity. The problems
and solutions are well known. The federal government already
has access to many of the regulatory tools that are necessary
to prevent pollution. As was recently pointed out by the federal
Commissioner of the Environment, what seems to be lacking is
simple will: the federal will to make pollution a priority,
to lead and to act. Yet another exercise in talking about
the problems -- which the "Chemicals Table" appears to be --
will not be useful. What is required is the immediate
implementation of strong regulations, an objective that the
"Chemicals Table" is not designed to further.

2. Critical elements of the "Chemicals Table" design, such as
chairing and membership, have apparently been finalized in
spite of the best advice from environmental organizations.
Through the Canadian Environmental Network, the environmental
community collectively laid out a series of criteria that needed
to be met before it would be willing to participate in the
"Sectoral Tables" process. The federal government has not
met these criteria. Environmentalists are not now going
to acquiesce to a flawed process that they warned against
just a few months ago.

3. The co-chairing of the "Chemicals Table" by the chemical industry
and the federal government is completely unacceptable. Given that
environmental organizations will apparently be a small minority
of the table's members, the structure seems certain to
marginalize environmental concerns. Given the industry dominance
of the table, the conclusions of the "Chemicals Table" --
including on such critical issues as Parliament's review of
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) -- would seem
preordained and likely at odds with those of the environmental
community, the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Environment, and the Canadian public.

4. The Canadian Chemical Producers Association, which has played
a key role in the "Chemicals Table" design, and which will
serve as co-chair, has shown little interest in real pollution
prevention in Canada. In the past year alone, the CCPA has
actively opposed Ontario's Bill 133 (an important new pollution
statute), castigated the NAFTA Commission on Environmental
Cooperation for linking child health and pollution emissions,
and continued to hold up its Responsible Care programme as
a model of progressive environmental stewardship. A recent
report by Environmental Defence found that, to the contrary,
Responsible Care has done little to increase the transparency
of a chronically secretive, highly polluting, industrial sector.

5. The "Chemicals Table" has clearly been designed to further
the federal government's broader so-called "Smart Regulations"
agenda, a transparent attempt to weaken federal health and
safety, and environmental regulation at the behest of industry.
On the eve of Parliament's review of Canada's most important
pollution law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA),
we believe the "Chemicals Table" process will likely stall
further progress on pollution prevention in Canada as opposed
to grappling honestly with the critical issues at hand.

Endorsed by:

BC Pathways
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Centre for International Studies, Cape Breton University
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Earth Action
Ecology Action Centre
Environmental Defence
Georgia Strait Alliance
Great Lakes United
New Brunswick Partners in Agriculture
Northwest BC Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Reach for Unbleached!
Sierra Club of Canada
Sierra Legal Defence Fund
Toronto Environmental Alliance
Travel Just
Under the Sleeping Buffalo Research
West Coast Environmental Law Association

July 18, 2005

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232,
(647) 280-9521 (cell)

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