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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Environment Act (NS)

(current to 15 October 2016)
Note Re Application of the Environment Act ('EA')

The Environment Act of Nova Scotia applies generally within all lands, air and water in the province, and also has provisions addressing 'transboundary pollution' [EA 145-155].

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • HABITAT
  • EXTERMINATION
  • CIVIL LIABILITY
The full current text of the Environment Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Nova Scotia statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Protections and Prohibitions
3. Enforcement
4. Civil Liability
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1. Overview

Nova Scotia's Environment Act ('EA') is typical of most provincial environmental protection statutes. From a wildlife perspective it's importance is primarily related to habitat preservation and protection by the prevention and mitigation of pollution. However, since it also relates to pesticides regulation it does have an extermination relevance as well.

It's purposes are (in part) "to support and promote the protection, enhancement and prudent use of the environment while recognizing the following goals" [EA 2]:
  • "maintaining environmental protection as essential to the integrity of ecosystems, human health and the socio-economic well-being of society";

  • "maintaining the principles of sustainable development" including:

    • "the principle of ecological value, ensuring the maintenance and restoration of essential ecological processes and the preservation and prevention of loss of biological diversity",

    • that the precautionary principle be used in decision-making "so that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, the lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation",

    • that the principle of pollution prevention and waste reduction is a foundation for long-term environmental protection.
The EA addresses the following specific areas of potential habitat degradation:
  • dangerous goods and waste dangerous goods;

  • pesticides;

  • petroleum products;

  • contaminated sites;

  • waste management;

  • water resource management;

  • air quality management

2. Protections and Prohibitions

The following provisions are EA provisions offering some degree of environmental protection:
  • "(n)o person shall ... release or permit the release into the environment of a substance in an amount, concentration or level or at a rate of release that causes or may cause an adverse effect, unless authorized by an approval or the regulations" [EA 67(1,2)];

  • "(n)o person shall ... release or permit the release of a substance into the environment in an amount, concentration or level or at a rate of release that is in excess of that expressly authorized by an approval or the regulations" [EA 68(1,2)];

  • "(a)ny person responsible for the release of a substance into the environment that has caused, is causing or may cause an adverse effect, shall forthwith, as soon as that person knows or ought to know of the release, report it" to the Ministry and to those involved with or effected by the release [EA 69(1)];

  • persons responsible for such releases have a duty to actively mitigate adverse effects so caused [EA 71];

  • EA inspectors or administrators, where a release is causing an 'environmental emergency', may take direct action to reduce and remedy adverse effects so caused [EA 72(1)];

  • "a person who handles dangerous goods, waste dangerous goods or pesticides shall do so in a manner that ensures that the dangerous goods, waste dangerous goods or pesticides do not cause an adverse effect to the environment" [EA 75];

    For these purposes, a 'pest' includes "any plant, animal, micro-organism ... including any insect, nematode, rodent, predatory animal, parasite, bacterium, fungus, weed, or other form of plant or animal life or virus, the Minister believes is or may be injurious, noxious or troublesome ..." [EA 2(p)].

  • the sale, distribution, use, application, handling, storage and transporation of pesticides is regulated under the Pesticide Regulations [EA 79];

  • the retail and wholesale storage and sale of 'motive fuels' (eg. gasoline) are subject to approval requirements [EA 83];

    For the above purposes, 'adverse effect' means "an effect that impairs or damages the environment or changes the environment in a manner that negatively affects aspects of human health" [EA 3(c)].
As a practical matter, those facing animal-related EA concerns would most commonly have recourse to the EA where animals are being impacted by industrial pollution, toxins or similar substance-related harm. Even then they would have to locate the substances within the Act and the extensive EA Regulations to see how the problem is regulated and what can be done about it.


3. Enforcement

Primary administrative enforcement techniques used in the EA are 'approvals' [EA 50], certificates of qualification [EA 62] and environmental assessments [EA Part IV] - all of which in one form or another impose a prior approval requirement over human undertakings which may have a significant environmental impact. The Ministry is required to maintain an Environment Registry of documentation related to such processes, and to EA "orders, directives, appeals, decisions and hearings" as well as convictions for regulatory offences [EA 10].

The EA is enforced by appointed inspectors who have typical regulatory authorities to conduct inspections [EA 117], enter premises (warrants required for dwelling places) [EA 119,120] and issue compliance directives to mitigate the adverse effects of releases [EA 122A]. The Ministry has broader order authority [EA 125-130]. A broad offence provision allows prosecution of EA violations [EA 158].


4. Civil Liability

Inspectors and other EA agents are immune from civil liability for any good faith (ie. non-malicious) acts done in furtherance of their duties under the EA [EA 113, 143].

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