Environmental Assessment Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Environmental Assessing Canada

More and more countries have gotten actively involved in protecting the environment and Canada makes no exception from the rule, taking into account that it installed a series of programs meant to assist nature and discourage individuals or groups that might be inclined to damage it. The Canadian Environmental Act is probably one of the most significant steps that the country has taken with the purpose of making it mandatory for people and communities to conduct environmental assessments for diverse projects that they propose. Canadians have acknowledged the fact that some actions might have negative effects on the environment and thus developed environmental assessments meant to remove or diminish a project's capacity to harm to environment.

The 1868 Fisheries Act is probably one of the first significant environmental assessment programs that the government installed with the purpose of preventing individuals from harming the environment as a result of implementing various projects. Subsection 35 of this act emphasizes that any "harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat" (Fisheries Act) is forbidden. Individuals thus need to assess the consequences that their work or undertakings are going to have on the environment and do everything in their power in order to prevent their projects from negatively affecting the environment.

The Fisheries Act made it possible for individuals across the country to understand that it is important for them to adopt attitudes that have positive consequences on the environment. The Atomic Energy Control Act from 1946 actually demonstrates that Canadians have experienced much progress during the first part of the twentieth century when considering their understanding of the environment. This act is important because it raised people's self-awareness concerning the major role they play in protecting the environment. This act was revised a series of times during the second half of the twentieth century as the authorities developed strategies that were more and more restrictive with regard to the degree to which individuals were allowed to alter the environment (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited).

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is one of the first clear laws that highlighted the country's need for 'green' projects. This "is an important law that establishes environmental planning requirements intended to identify, evaluate and mitigate adverse effects of projects which require federal permits, lands or funding" (Canadian Environmental Assessment Act). The Minister of Environment is in charge of operations meant to control the degree to which some actions damage the environment and is focused on instructing the masses concerning the importance of preserving nature and assisting it in experiencing a graduate recovery.

Many projects are in need of environmental assessment and Canadians thus have to focus on doing everything in their power in order to develop projects that are more likely to be considered environmental-friendly. It is thus in their best interest to focus on making their projects 'greener', as this would influence the authorities in supporting these respective projects and would help nature in general.

2. Socio-economic and other human impacts on the environment are generally regarded with much indifference, as the authorities are inclined to direct most of their attention toward traditional biophysical effects on the environment. Incidents involving radioactive materials are particularly significant when considering this issue and it is especially difficult for the authorities to determine the exact effects that the release of radioactive substances might have on the environment. While many feel that the general public needs to be provided with extensive education in order for the environment to be protected, the reality is that people need to do more and that one of the most effective methods to assist the environment would be for them to get actively involved in fighting for it.

People are no longer spectators if they are provided with the opportunity to get involved in protecting the environment, as they are actually active members of environmentalism and as their involvement reflects positively on society in general. With nuclear fuel waste disposal being a significant problem in the contemporary society, the masses need to look at how Canadians dealt with the issue. Public involvement in such issues can lead to efficient solutions, taking into account that people are virtually provided with the chance to put across their thinking and to contribute by coming up with daring, yet effective, strategies. Individuals across Canada virtually became a part of the decision making process concerning nuclear fuel waste disposal and supported the establishment of the nuclear Waste Management Organization. "The Waste Management Organization has the mandate to review and select a preferred option for long-term NFW management" (182).

There are both active and inactive publics responsible for controlling environmental assessment strategies in Canada. The first group is composed out of various institutions and organizations while the second is less structured and can even contain ordinary citizens who decided to become involved in preserving the environment and started to focus on actions that they can perform in order to achieve their goals with regard to ecology. Active publics often have the tendency to shadow inactive publics and it is thus important for the latter community to have numerous individuals involved in programs concerning environmental assessment. Depending on the stage of the environmental impact assessment process, particular publics need to be engaged in controlling it. "For example, publics with little stake in the outcome (i.e. they will not be directly affected) and with limited power and influence over the project decision and EIA process may be considered spectators and involved in EIA process only indirectly, through public communications, news releases, and education about the project" (183). The fact that some groups can be discriminated during a decision-making process can have serious consequences on society as a whole. Even though other communities benefit, the long-term effects are negative, considering that it is likely for the environment to be negatively affected if the project's impacts are not managed correctly.

Numerous individuals end up playing an insignificant role in an EIA process despite that they are considered to be an important factor. In such cases it is important for the authorities to do everything in their power in order to have the masses become better educated with regard to environmentalism and to present people with the negative effects that their indifference might have on themselves and on society in general.

3. Aboriginals are a particularly delicate topic when considering environmental impact assessment and this is primarily owed to the fact that the government needs to focus on addressing the problems experienced by indigenous individuals as a result of a project being put into practice. It only seems normal to assimilate Aboriginal environmental knowledge in EIA processes, but this has nothing to do with the task of consulting indigenous tribes in an attempt to reach an agreement. The government needs to be well-acquainted with values respected by Aboriginals and do everything in its power to prevent a situation where the rights of these peoples would be infringed. One might go as far as to say that the government has to negotiate with Aboriginals in order to satisfy all groups involved in a project, as this would apparently make it possible for these communities to consider that justice was made.

The Haida Nation v. British Colombia (Minister of Forests) and Weyerhaeuser case is probably one of the most intriguing cases involving an argument between an Aboriginal community and the forestry firm Weyerhaeuser Co. The government apparently emphasized that it is in charge of managing forest resources with the purpose of benefiting all individuals in British Colombia. Furthermore, the authorities believe that the Haida Nation made unfounded claims and that it will not be provided with the right to act until it manages to prove that it has the right to do so. Forests are an important factor in Haida economy and culture and it is thus difficult for the nation to accept being robbed of what it considers to be its right.

The Supreme Court of Canada decided that the government did actually have the mission to consult the Haida Nation with regard to its role in British Colombia. However, it appears that this mission has a moral character instead of having a legal one. "The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the duty to consult rests with government and government must consult and accommodate when there is knowledge of the potential existence of an Aboriginal right of title, regardless of whether that right or title has been legally established" (187).

There is much controversy when considering the Haida Nation v. British Colombia (Minister of Forests) and Weyerhaeuser case. While it seems that it is morally right to provide the Haida Nation with the right to be in control of the lands considered to belong to them, the modern-day society also promotes the belief that governmental forces should be in charge of lands belonging to British Colombia. One practically comes across an ethical dilemma as he or she tries to determine which of these two communities are right. Morality dictates that the Haida Nation needs…

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