Volume 10:1 (2014)

Environmental Monitoring and Ecosystem Management in the Oil Sands: Spaceship Earth or Escort Tugboat?

Martin Olszynski

Abstract: Spurred on by mounting international concern about the environmental impacts of the oil sands and determined to secure Canada’s status as a global energy superpower, Canada and Alberta recently announced the establishment of a “world class” monitoring plan for the Lower Athabasca Region of Alberta. Relying on recent scholarship but also Canadian experience with monitoring, this paper sets out some of the challenges to (and features of) effective environmental monitoring programs. It also situates monitoring in its proper context as a prerequisite to the successful implementation of ecosystem management (“EM”), an emerging if still not fully understood environmental policy model, the effective imple- mentation of which presents its own set of chal- lenges. The Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Plan (“JOSMP”) and one of the existing EM regimes in the region, the Lower Athabasca River Water Management Framework (“LAR Framework”), are then assessed against frameworks constructed around the challenges and features previously identified. The implications of an environmental law increasingly reliant on monitoring and EM are discussed in the final part.

L'étonnante construction juridique de l'énergie éolienne au Québec

Marie-Claude Prémont

Abstract: Strong winds on the Gaspé Peninsula do not suffice to explain why large wind parks are now part of the Hydro-Quebec network. The inclu- sion of wind energy in Quebec’s energy port- folio required the creation of a complex—and somewhat surprising—legal framework, which was shaped by local and international forces. At the international level, the liberalization of North America’s electricity market and the fight against climate change were strong influences. On the local level, the main driving force was the regional economic development of the Gaspé Peninsula. This article traces and analyzes the long pathway of the reconfiguration of Quebec’s energy policy, which, to promote wind energy, enabled the reintroduction of private electricity production into consumer markets.

Waiting for Commercial Viability: Legal Incentives to Produce Cellulosic Biofuels and their Consistency with the WTO Regime

Jean-Michel Marcoux & Richard Ouellet

Abstract: Cellulosic materials are often perceived as promising feedstocks for producing more sustainable renewable fuels. Nevertheless, because the conversion of these feedstocks into ethanol remains costly, the commercial viability of cellulosic biofuels appears to be threatened. While Canada has generally refrained from adopting regulatory incentives to stimulate demand for these second-generation biofuels, specific measures adopted in the European Union (“EU”) and the United States could be considered. This paper assesses the consistency with the World Trade Organization regime of three different types of provisions that act as legal incentives to encourage the integration of cellulosic biofuels into the economy. We argue that most of these measures that have been adopted by the EU and the United States are consistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

L'influence du principe de précaution sur la responsabilité civile en droit français: un bilan en demi-teinte

Mathilde Boutonnet

Abstract: Recognized in international, European, and French law, the precautionary principle facilitates the avoidance of serious damage in environmental and health matters where scientific uncertainty exists. The influence of the precautionary principle on French civil liability law has been the subject of lively debate. The debate has focused on whether this principle could, beyond permitting the reparation of damage in case of wrongful breach, enable the prevention of damage through an action in civil liability. Civil courts were initially open to the possibility of extending civil liability law beyond its restorative function to a preventive function. However, several decisions at the end of 2012 put an end to this trend. This article focuses on the evolution of the role of the precautionary principle in civil liability and on these decisions. These decisions arouse criticism as they undermine the purpose of the precautionary principle, namely to prevent certain damages.

Book Review: Legal Aspects of Implementing the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety

Chidi Oguamanam

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