Carol Linnitt's blog

Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Review ‘Vexed from Outset’

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan

The review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been plagued by a critical lack of evidence, members of a National Energy Board panel heard in Burnaby last week.

Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the Environmental Law Centre representing intervenors BC Nature and Nature Canada, said the evidence presented in the hearings is insufficient to prevent the panel from discharging its duty under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Fundamentally we say there is a lack of evidence for you to do your job,” he said.

VIDEO: The Fight for Shawnigan Lake

Earlier this month, we wrote about the escalating conflict over a contaminated waste disposal site in Shawnigan Lake, on Vancouver Island. Now we've released a short video on the controversy. In less than a week, it's been viewed more than 170,000 times. Check it out and let us know what you think! 
 

Federal Scientist Says Worst Part of Being Muzzled Was Not Being Able to Talk About How Awesome His Job Is

Environment Canada scientist Phil Thomas recently texted me a photo of him working in the field. The image shows him gloved, crouched before a strip of bloodied flesh that is hanging from a thin rope. From the top of the creaturely thing protrudes a strange-looking tail.

What IS this?” I texted back.

Lmao,” he replied. “Trappers usually bring me their carcasses to skin … I skin them for them. They keep the hide, I keep the tissues. This is an otter … Or was an otter.”

The profundity of this interaction, while not apparent on its head, can’t be overstated.

Here I am, a journalist, chatting freely and casually via text message with a federal scientist about his work.

Two years ago Thomas and I were having what felt like cloak and dagger conversations, entirely off the record and at his occupational peril.

Back in Canada’s Harper days, before the “Great Unmuzzling,” it was next to impossible to conduct a real-deal interview with a federal scientist. The idea of having casual, on-the-record conversations that were entirely un-chaperoned seemed like a fairy tale.

Trudeau is “Breaking the Promise He Made” By Allowing Trans Mountain Pipeline Review to Continue Under Old Rules

The next round of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline are scheduled to begin January 19 in Vancouver, B.C.

Climate advocates and critics of the National Energy Board are disappointed the review process will continue on under rules established by the previous federal government, especially since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to make the process more credible and evidence-based.

The Liberal party platform promised to immediately review the process, restoring “robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments” as well as restoring “lost protections” eliminated during the former government’s sweeping changes to environmental law. 

At a campaign stop in August 2015, Trudeau told Kai Nagata, energy and democracy director at the Dogwood Initiative, that the NEB overhaul would apply to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Yes. Yes,” Trudeau said. “It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well.”

Could the Fundamental 'Right to a Healthy Environment' Be a Gamechanger for Community-Led Battles like Shawnigan Lake?

Residents of Vancouver Island’s Shawnigan Lake are currently in B.C.’s Supreme Court fighting a waste discharge permit that will allow five million tonnes of contaminated soil to be dumped in their watershed over the next 50 years.

The ongoing case marks the third legal challenge the community has brought against the B.C. Ministry of Environment for granting the hazardous waste disposal permit to company South Island Aggregates.

The feeling of betrayal in the community is palpable, where frustrations with B.C.’s permit granting process and seeming close connection with industry are running at an all time high.

Sonia Furstenau, Cowichan Valley Regional District elected official for Shawnigan Lake, said people in the community have voiced their opposition to the project since day one.

B.C.'s Failure to Consult First Nations Sets Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Back to Square One

The provincial government did not fulfill its legal obligation to consult with First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The case, brought forward by the Gitga’at and other coastal First Nations, argued the province erred when it handed over decision-making authority for the project to the federal government under a provincial-federal Joint Review Process managed by the federal National Energy Board.

B.C. granted Ottawa authority over the project’s environmental review in a 2010 equivalency agreement. That agreement, however, did not release the province from the legal duty to consult First Nations, the B.C. Supreme Court found.

It’s a very significant ruling,” Elin Sigurdson, lawyer with JFK Law, said. “The coastal First Nations and Gita’at were very successful in the application to quash the equivalency agreement which means the province now has to consult with First Nations that will be affected by matters in the provincial jurisdiction and has to conduct a new environmental assessment for the project.”

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