Canadian High Court Clears Way for Damage Suits Against Polluters

In a significant — and, to enviros, heartening — decision handed down Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that governments may sue polluters and negligent companies for damage done to public lands and natural resources that have no commercial value. The case involved an effort by the British Columbia provincial government to get compensation from a timber company for damage caused by a wildfire. The high court sided with the B.C. government, issuing a ruling that clears the way for companies to get slapped with big fines for environmental degradation. Sierra Legal Defense Fund lawyer Jerry DeMarco, who argued the case before the court, called the ruling “a major environmental law precedent in Canada” that will have repercussions for “any case where a natural asset or resource is held in common for the benefit of everyone and is harmed by corporate negligence.”