Friday, February 12, 2016 - 12:31 • Sarah Cox

The Peace Valley old-growth forest slated to be clear cut for the Site C dam is just as important, if not more ecologically significant, than the Great Bear Rainforest, says the wildlife biologist and retired provincial government manager who wrote B.C.’s management plan for the area.
 
“It’s more important from a biodiversity point of view because there’s far less of it,” Rod Backmeyer said in a phone interview.
 
“The boreal forest hasn’t had the high profile [of the Great Bear Rainforest]. You don’t get those classic giant trees with moss covered ground and logs under them that are so picturesque. It’s different here. It doesn’t mean that it has less value. It just doesn’t have that romantic flavour that some of the coastal old-growth has.”
 
The forest, on the south bank of the Peace River near its confluence with the Moberly River, surrounds an historic fort site where Peace Valley farmers and First Nations members have camped since New Year’s Eve. BC Hydro contractors built a logging bridge across the mouth of the Moberly during the Christmas holidays, but clear-cutting stopped when campers and their supporters, including First Nations elders, began to maintain a constant vigil near logging equipment.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 17:54 • Graham Readfearn

Almost 3000 scientists from more than 60 countries have condemned Australia’s key government science agency over plans that would “decimate” its climate change research capabilities.

The open letter, delivered to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his ministers on Thursday evening, warns the cuts would leave the Southern Hemisphere “with no sustainable, world-class climate modelling capability.”

Since news of the cuts at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) emerged last week, leading scientists and institutions from across the world have attacked the plans.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall told staff in an email that the agency wanted to shift the focus of its Oceans and Atmosphere division away from climate change monitoring and modelling because the science of climate change was now “proved.”

His claimed justification for the cuts have been roundly criticised by current and former staff CSIRO staff members

On Thursday, Marshall joined senior CSIRO bosses in a scheduled appearance before an Australian Senate Committee, where he was grilled over the plans. Climate scientists attending a major conference in Melbourne broke off from proceedings to crowd around a televsion to watch Marshall give evidence.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 17:35 • Judith Lavoie
Site C dam on the Peace River
Site C dam on the Peace River

A broad coalition of organizations from across Canada wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt construction of the Site C dam by refusing to issue federal permits needed for construction of the $9-billion project that will flood 23,000 hectares of land along 107-kilometres of the Peace River Valley.
 
A letter to Trudeau, signed by 25 organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the Council of Canadians to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the David Suzuki Foundation, asks that the new Liberal government live up to its promises of a new relationship with First Nations.
 
“Our organizations are profoundly concerned that construction of the Site C dam is being pushed ahead despite the conclusion of a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment that it would severely and permanently undermine indigenous peoples’ use of the land; harm rare plants and other biodiversity; make fishing unsafe for at least a generation and submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites,” an open letter released by the coalition says.
 
The letter urges Trudeau to rescind all permits and to re-examine the previous government’s approval of the dam, which was given despite Treaty 8 claims that it violated treaty rights.
 
“The people of Treaty 8 have said no to Site C. Any government that is truly committed to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, to respecting human rights and to promoting truly clean energy must listen,” the letter says.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 13:52 • Guest

This article originally appeared on The Tyee. By Chris Wood. 

The sound of water is loud in a land muffled by snow. No human sound penetrates this broad valley between tapering extensions of the Rocky Mountains, 100 kilometres southwest of Grand Prairie, Alberta. A stray beam from the low winter sun washes the landscape in pink. A young doe caribou makes her way to the water. She's thin, ribs visible beneath her winter coat. At the water's edge she lowers her head to drink.

Suddenly grey shapes burst from the shadows. The swiftest comes racing over her own hoof-trail, leaps and sinks sharp teeth deep into her haunch, lacerating ligament. Within minutes, the doe's struggle is over. The wolves settle in to eat.

For Alberta's foothills caribou, death row is a fraying triangle of pine, spruce and aspenforest and meadows, stretched along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and running roughly from Banff, west of Calgary, some 630 kilometres north and west over the provincial border into British Columbia. A broad thumb of forest thrusts east toward Slave Lake.

A second area with a similar ecological community, not quite as large, straddles the provincial borders north of Fort St. John, B.C. Anchored on Alberta's Chinchaga Wildland Park it holds the headwaters of the Hay River. The two areas are isolated from each other by the trans-border Peace River and its development corridor of gas fields, forest mills and a soon-to-be-built third hydroelectric dam and reservoir on the river.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 16:55 • Derek Leahy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Wednesday the federal government will meet with Indigenous leaders and premiers in Vancouver in early March in the hopes of laying out the framework for a national climate strategy.
 
“I look forward to working with the premiers on combatting climate change and moving toward a greener, more sustainable Canadian economy better positioned to compete globally in the areas of clean knowledge and technologies,” Trudeau said in a media release.

The Prime Minister announced he will meet with Indigenous leaders on March 2 to inform a national climate framework discussion with the premiers in a First Ministers' Meeting scheduled to take place March 3. First Ministers' Meetings did not occur under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

According to Clare Demerse, Ottawa-based energy policy adviser with Clean Energy Canada, the meeting provides an unprecedented opportunity to discuss Canada's renewable energy transition.
 
“The right people will be in the room to move forward on a national approach [to climate change],” Demerse told DeSmog Canada. “Whether it’s electrical production, or natural resources extraction, provinces make big decisions on energy in Canada.”

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 12:52 • Jimmy Thomson
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced Monday he asked the federal government for $156 million to help fund oil and gas well cleanup efforts. In a press release he said the program “will stimulate economic activity and job creation while at the same time delivering environmental benefits.”
 
But Saskatchewan already has a fund in place for dealing with so-called “orphan wells,” or wells that have been left behind by companies or individuals who are no longer financially able to pay or legally responsible. Since 2009 the province has collected payments from wells in operation, and if the well doesn’t meet a particular threshold for financial stability the province may demand a refundable deposit as a guarantee. As of last fall that fund held $11.4 million in payments, up a million dollars from the previous year, plus another $45 million in refundable deposits.
 
The Alberta NDP government said in a statement on Tuesday that the province — despite having about seven times as many orphan wells as Saskatchewan — will not seek federal money because “industry should continue covering costs related to remediating abandoned wells.”
 
So why does Saskatchewan need $156 million now?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 10:31 • Guest

This is a guest post by Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC.

Last month, lobbyists gathered in Vancouver for The Future of Lobbying, a one -day conference put on by B.C.'s Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, Simon Fraser Institute's Governance Studies and Public Affairs Association of Canada (B.C. Chapter).

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there does seem to be a future for the industry. In fact, if we're not careful, B.C. could be overrun by lobbyists.

Last year, there were 2,502 in-house and consultant lobbyists registered in the province, up from 1,451 four years ago. Whoever said the B.C. Jobs Plan wasn't working?

While others do get some attention — political staff, deputy ministers and the like — that works out to 30 lobbyists for every MLA.

In Ottawa, there are 3,008 lobbyists or nine per MP.

As one of 14 panelists at the Vancouver conference, it fell on me to provide a bit of insight on the public's perspective towards the industry and a few ideas on how it might be improved.

Somehow has to rain on the parade of rainmakers. Not a tough task, though. There's no shortage of material.

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Friday, February 5, 2016 - 13:10 • Derek Leahy

After languishing in the darkness for ten years, a national climate policy in Canada could take shape during an anticipated first ministers meeting in Vancouver next month. The meeting fulfills a Liberal election promise “to establish a pan-Canadian framework for combating climate change” and meet with provincial ministers within 90 days of the UN COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. 
 
“If there ever was a time this could work it would be now,” Jennifer Allan, PhD candidate and researcher with International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), said. “Canadians are mobilized and there’s more momentum for change than there’s been in the recent past, if ever.”
 
“The federal government and the provinces are not going to be able to sneak anything weak — or failure — out the backdoor,” Allan told DeSmog Canada.
 
Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not officially announced the meeting to discuss a national climate plan with the premiers, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador published a media release earlier this week identifying March 3 as the date of the first ministers meeting to discuss a national climate change framework. 

Other sources confirmed the meeting will be held on March 3rd during the Globe Series, an international environmental business summit in Vancouver.

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