Top News

Friday, October 31, 2014 - 12:44 • Carol Linnitt

Some people call it the elephant in the room. I like to call it the blue whale in the pool,” scientist Brian Kingzett told a room of naturalists this week. He was talking about the dramatic rise in ocean acidity along the B.C. coast.

As the Oceanside Star reports, Kingzett, field station manager for the Vancouver Island University Centre for Shellfish Research, met the Arrowsmith Naturalists at the Knox United Church to deliver a talk, Climate Change and Ocean Acidification.

It’s going to sound a little doom and gloom,” he told the room. When it comes to recent discoveries about ocean acidity, Kingzett said he could hardly believe what he was seeing.

Scientists, Kingzett explained, traditionally haven’t spent much time measuring ocean acidity because levels have remained so consistent for nearly 300 million years. Yet when he began sampling water in and around the Strait of Georgia, Kingzett was so surprised by the results he asked fellow researchers along the Pacific Northwest to confirm them.

It was true: the region’s pH levels had dropped from an expected 8.0 to a staggering 7.57. The difference seems moderate, but each 0.1 decrease represents a whopping 25 per cent increase in acidity.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 17:00 • Chris Rose

At least $83 billion USD in financing was provided to 65 coal mining and energy companies last year by 92 of the world’s leading commercial banks, according to a Dutch report published Wednesday.

Leading banks provided $500 billion in financing for the coal industry through 2,283 lending and underwriting transactions between 2005 and April 2014, said the report Banking on Coal 2014, which was released by BankTrack in Nijmegen.

The top 20 financiers provided 73 per cent of this amount alone, added the report, released just days ahead of the publication of the fifth United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment.

The report said JPMorgan Chase was the top financier between 2005 and this year, lending more than $27 billion, while Citi, in second place, lent $25.8 billion and third-place RBS provided $22.9 billion to coal-related borrowing.

Bank finance for coal is increasing rapidly, the report said, adding 2013 was a record year for coal finance, with commercial banks providing more than $88 billion to the main 65 coal companies – over four times the amount provided in 2005.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 07:31 • Judith Lavoie
Grizzly bear

Grizzly bears in the Central Purcell Mountains are more vulnerable than shown in 15-year-old research being used by proponents of Jumbo Glacier Resort and, if the resort is built, it could threaten grizzly populations through southern B.C and into the U.S, says one of Canada’s leading grizzly bear experts.

Michael Proctor, who has studied grizzly bears in the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges in southeastern B.C. for almost 20 years and whose work is regularly published in scientific journals, recently completed two ecological analyses of the Purcell grizzly population and found, based on data-driven population surveys, that bear populations are about 50 per cent smaller than previous estimates.

In 1999, government scientists estimated the area to be at 93 per cent of carrying capacity for grizzlies, but Proctor’s research, completed more than a decade later, found grizzly capacity to be at 54 per cent. The capacity is the population an environment can sustain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 11:58 • Emma Gilchrist
Ken Boon

The Peace Valley Landowner Association has served a petition for judicial review asking the B.C. Supreme Court to quash the provincial environmental assessment certificated granted Oct. 14 to BC Hydro to build the $8 billion Site C dam.

Lawyer Maegan Giltrow says that in granting the environmental certificate, the ministers of Environment and of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations failed to consider the joint review panel’s assessment of the economics of the Site C project.

Not only was the joint review panel required by law to make recommendations about cost … but the ministers were bound by law to consider those recommendations,” Giltrow said. “This goes to the core of whether the certificate should be issued.”

Assessing the economic impacts of the project was explicitly included in the scope of the joint review panel’s review, but the province ignored the panel’s recommendations on that topic, stating they were outside of the panel’s scope.

These are not questions for another time,” Giltrow said. “Before granting the certificate, the ministers were bound to consider and weigh the whole picture.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 22:43 • Chris Rose
canadian corporations, lobbying, US elections

As the mid-term elections in the United States continue to heat up, a new report released Wednesday shows that Canadian corporations have registered at least $15.3 million USD in spending on direct lobbying of the U.S. federal government in the first nine months of 2014.

That includes $2.87 million by Canadian National Railway Company in the face of increasing regulatory attention to the rail transport industry on both sides of the border, said the report — Are Canadian corporations spending to influence the U.S. political process?

Written by The Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), the 13-page report noted that the TransCanada Corporation, well aware that the controversial Keystone pipeline project is up for approval at the federal level, spent $1.07 million on political lobbying from January to September.

The author of the report, Kevin Thomas, SHARE’s Director of Shareholder Engagement, said in a telephone interview that Canadian companies are clearly involved in political spending in the U.S.

The problem is there’s no real requirement for disclosure on either side of the border that can quantify the extent of that spending,” Thomas said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 11:20 • Emma Gilchrist
Kinder Morgan TransMountain advertisement

Kinder Morgan has launched an advertising campaign pushing the company’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that just so happens to coincide with B.C.’s municipal elections — but Elections BC says the company doesn’t need to register as a third-party advertiser.

That’s a bit of a puzzler given that Elections BC rules clearly state that anyone who runs ads on an election issue must register as a third-party advertiser and disclose costs within 90 days of the Nov. 15 election.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of oilsands bitumen flowing to the B.C. coast, is certainly an election issue, with Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson staking out positions against the project.

An online survey for the Burnaby NOW found the pipeline expansion is the No. 1 concern for Burnaby voters during the civic election.

Monday, October 27, 2014 - 11:33 • Emma Gilchrist
Christy Clark at LNG Canada announcement

The B.C. government’s claim that LNG exports offer the “greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change” is inaccurate in the absence of stronger global climate policies according to a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

Natural gas does have a role to play in a world that avoids two degrees Celsius in global warming, but only if strong emissions reduction policies are put in place in the jurisdictions that produce and consume the gas, says the report, LNG and Climate Change: The Global Context authored by Matt Horne and Josha MacNab.

Natural gas is often described as a bridge fuel. The question is, how long should that bridge be?” says MacNab, B.C. regional director for the Pembina Institute, a national non-profit focused on transitioning Canada to a clean energy future.

Our research suggests it must be very short if we’re going to be able to get off the bridge in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”