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Improving the Process: Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for the Proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

(Prof. Jaye Ellis, McGill School of Environment & Faculty of Law)

The Issue: The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is in the process of being created. Using existing free trade regimes and their dispute resolution mechanisms (DRMs) as examples, it is clear that such regimes often overlook non-trade related considerations, such as the environment. This trend will likely continue under the FTAA unless its DRM differs significantly from those of existing trade regimes.

Research questions: 1. How do current trade DRMs of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) function? 2. What weaknesses in the process of these existing DRMs prevent “good” decisions from being reached? 3. How can these processes be improved upon to provide DRMs for the FTAA that will result in “good” decisions?

Methodology: A literature review was conducted to broaden our understanding of how the DRMs of WTO/GATT, NAFTA, and the future FTAA function, and to reveal weaknesses in these mechanisms. A list of potential recommendations for the DRM of the FTAA was drafted and brought before individuals from diverse areas of interest and expertise in interviews to gauge their responses and include additional recommendations. The pros and cons of each recommendation, as revealed through the literature and interviews, were considered in determining their desirability.

Management Research and Recommendations for Ile-Bouchard and Ile-a-l’Aigle

(Prof. Bruce Case, Associate Member, McGill School of Environment & Department of Pathology)

The following report provides recommendations for the management of the Île à l’Aigle Archipelago in the St. Lawrence River. These recommendations are based on scientific and socio-economic data that were obtained from researching the literature, from interviewing professionals and from attending public conferences about the Île à l’Aigle Archipelago. The study area comprises five islands: Île à l’Aigle, Île aux Cerfeuils, Île aux Asperges, Île Madame and Île Moutons. The purpose of our research is twofold; on one hand we investigated the data available in order to prioritize future actions. On the other hand, we examined several management options that could be applied in the elaboration of a management plan for the Île à l’Aigle Archipelago.

An analysis of the Environmental and Economic Costs of the Pulp and Paper Industry

(Prof. Fréderic Fabry, McGill School of Environment & Departmetn of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences)

Recycled paper at Coop la Maison Verte, our client’s store, costs more than paper made from virgin pulp, as is the case elsewhere. Our client was interested in the underlying reasons behind this price discrepancy. In our research we focused not only on the economic reasons for the higher cost of recycled paper but also on what environmental impacts each papermaking process (virgin and recycled) has, and whether or not the environment would benefit if the consumer absorbed the economic costs and bought recycled paper, even at this more expensive price.

Environmental Indicators in Community Development

(Prof. Bruce Case, Associate Member, McGill School of Environment & Department of Pathology)

There is a current need for the use of abandoned industrial sites in urban areas. Due to the possible contamination of the land from industrial activities it is important to know the environmental condition of the site before development occurs. This environmental analysis can be done using historical information and soil quality.

Because of the increasing awareness concerning environmental pollution and its effects on health, a wide variety of environmental indicators have been developed to assess the state of the environment. These indicators must provide information that can be used in a management plan.

Our client, RAMPE, is most interested in knowing the quality of the soil of four plots of land situated in Park Extension, therefore we chose soil as our indicator. The two methods used are a review of the history of activities that took place on these lands and soil sampling on the land for which we obtained permission from the current owner.

Perspectives on Magnola and HCB Emissions

(Prof. Bruce Case, Associate Member, McGill School of Environment & Department of Pathology)

Métallurgie Magnola recently established a plant that uses asbestos tailings for magnesium extraction in Asbestos, Québec. Currently, no comparable facilities exist elsewhere, and local citizens are concerned about the presence of Magnola's plant. This report on our project attempts to answer the three main questions posed by the Comité de Citoyens:

1) Are Magnola's prevention measures of groundwater contamination and emission of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) from the tailings pond adequate? 2) What are the effects of Magnola's emission, most notably HCB, on human health? 3) How will the ecology be affected on the local and regional scales?

These questions are concerns for the local citizens because researchers are still investigating the effects of HCB exposure on human health. In addition, HCB is known to bioaccumulate in the food chain and animals are likely to be affected to some degree.