Video: Career Discussion with Accountability Counsel Executive Director Natalie Bridgeman Fields

This is an excellent video on career options with NGO Accountability Counsel. According to their website: Accountability Counsel amplifies the voices of communities around the world to protect their human rights and environment. As advocates for people harmed by internationally-financed projects, we employ community driven and policy level strategies to access justice. I hope to … Read more

The Progressive Lawyer Spotlight is on the Quebec Environmental Law Center

Pour une version française de cet article s’il vous plaît cliquez ici

Logo CQDEThis week, we are taking a closer look into environmental law. There are a lot of debates going on around the world regarding climate change and how States should react to it. In Quebec, there has been a lot of debates and concerns especially around pipelines projects and hydrocarbons.

This feature offers a closer look on Quebec Environmental Law Center, a Montreal-based organization that has been very active regarding these issues recently.

Progressive Lawyer: Please Introduce Yourself and describe your role in the Quebec Environmental Law Center.

Karine Péloffy: My name is Karine Péloffy, I am a lawyer and the Executive Director of the Quebec Environmental Law Center (“CQDE”).

PL: Why was the Center created? What issues does it confront?

KP: The Center was founded in 1989 by Me Michel Bélanger and other lawyers who were among the first people in Quebec to be interested in protecting the environment from a legal point of view. The CQDE was founded to promote the use of the law as an essential tool to protect the interests of citizens, nature and the environment.

Historically, the Center has been active on several major environmental issues such as mining as far back as 1991 and again in 2013, the attempt to privatise Mont Orford national park in 2010, blue-green algae, the anti-SLAPP law, the Suroît thermal plant, and shale gas exploitation. We also discuss major themes such as the conservation of natural habitats, protection of water and the fight against climate change.

The Center tries to act in real time on rising environmental issues. For example, for the summer of 2014 we went to court repeatedly to protect the beluga whales with an injunction against preliminary drilling by TransCanada which intended to establish an oil port in their critical habitat.

Lately, the organization has been working primarily on the exploitation and transport of fossil fuels and the protection of endangered species.

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Karine Péloffy du Centre Québécois de droit de l’environnement

An English version of this article can be found here.

Logo CQDECette semaine, nous nous intéressons de plus près au droit de l’environnement. Il y a présentement de nombreux débats autour du globe concernant les changements climatiques et concernant la réponse que les États devraient adopter face à cet enjeu.  Au Québec, il y a eu plus particulièrement de nombreux débats et préoccupations concernant les projets de pipeline et les hydrocarbures.

Cet article offre un aperçu du Centre Québécois du droit de l’environnement, un organisme basé à Montréal qui a été très actif en la matière dernièrement.

Progressive Lawyer: Pouvez-vous s’il vous plait vous présenter et décrire votre rôle au sein du Centre québécois de droit de l’environnement (« CQDE »)?

Karine Péloffy : Mon nom est Karine Péloffy, je suis avocate et directrice générale du Centre québécois de droit de l’environnement.

PL : Pourquoi le CQDE a-t-il été créé? À quels problèmes l’organisme répond-il?

KP : Le Centre a été créé en 1989 par Me Michel Bélanger et d’autres avocats qui étaient parmi les premières personnes au Québec à s’intéresser à la défense de l’environnement d’un point de vue juridique. Le CQDE a été fondé pour favoriser l’utilisation droit comme outil indispensable pour protéger et représenter les intérêts des citoyens, de la nature et de l’environnement.

Historiquement, le Centre a été actif sur plusieurs enjeux majeurs comme l’exploitation minière en 1991 puis en 2013, la tentative de privatisation du parc national du Mont-Orford en 2010, mais aussi la prolifération des algues bleues, les poursuites-bâillons, la centrale thermique Suroît et l’exploitation du gaz de schiste. Nous abordons aussi de grandes thématiques comme la conservation des milieux naturels, la protection de l’eau et la lutte aux changements climatiques.

Le Centre tente d’agir en temps réel sur les problèmes environnementaux qui surgissent dans l’actualité. Par exemple, à l’été 2014, nous sommes allés devant les tribunaux à plusieurs reprises pour protéger le béluga et demander une injonction contre les forages préliminaires entrepris par TransCanada, qui souhaitait construire un port pétrolier dans l’habitat critique de l’espèce.

Ces jours-ci, l’organisme travaille beaucoup sur les questions liées à l’exploration et au transport des hydrocarbures, de même que sur la protection des espèces menacées.

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Greenpeace: Using Activism and the Law to Protect the Planet

the-greenpeace-logoAs one of the pioneering environmental organizations still operating today, Greenpeace remains as vital as ever. At times controversial, Greenpeace exists to protect our vital ecosystems in a way that preserves them for future generations. Whereas in their early days Greenpeace relied primarily on their groundbreaking “mind bomb” direct actions, today their methods of operation are much more diverse. While they still engage in a number of creative direct actions, they also are involved in much behind the scenes work whether at the United Nations, state capitols around the world, corporate boardrooms or the courthouse, always to continue to push for their goal to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity.” According to their website:

Greenpeace exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by:

Greenpeace is present in 40 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

Recently I had the chance to talk to Tom Wetterer, General Counsel for Greenpeace USA on his role with the organization and how Greenpeace uses the law to further their goals.

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Earthjustice: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer

Earthjustice_LogoThere is an interesting debate that has recently begun about renaming the term “environmental law” to something like “resource law” based on the simple fact that there are lawyers out there who practice environmental law that are in no way actively working to protect the environment. There is no such confusion with the attorneys that work for Eartjustice. The whole raison d’etre for this non-profit organization is to work on behalf of the earth for the benefit of ours and future generations. Recently I spoke to Earthjustice associate attorney Neil Gormley about Earthjustice and practicing environmental law in an age where the difference between how the environment is viewed on Capitol Hill and on Main Street are seemingly growing increasingly disconnected.

Earthjustice is a non-profit environmental law organization with roots that go back to 1965 and the Sierra Club’s battle to protect Mineral King, a valley in California’s Sierra Nevada’s mountains from the developers at Walt Disney, who wanted to build a massive ski resort complex with all the negative environmental consequences such a development can cause. While the Walt Disney company actually won the Mineral King case after it wound its way to the Unites States Supreme Court in 1972, an opinion in the majority decision that a private citizen could be irreparably harmed by the development. This was the springboard that the Sierra Club attorneys used to set the precedent that a private citizen could sue a developer for environmental damage, a decision that their follow up court victory confirmed in allowing the public’s right to fight for the environment in court. Formally split off into the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in 1971, the mission of these attorneys has remained the same:

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