Carol Linnitt's blog

New Public Interest Law Office to Fight B.C.’s Biggest Environmental Battles

There just aren’t enough lawyers in B.C. to fight all the environmental battles First Nations, individuals and groups face on a regular basis in the province, according to University of Victoria lawyer Chris Tollefson.

As a solution, Tollefson, the founder of the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, and a handful of legal experts and litigators recently launched a new public interest environmental law outfit that will take on some of the most powerful forces in B.C., from Malaysian-owned Petronas to government ministries to BC Hydro.

The new legal non-profit, the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL), will focus on environmental litigation, legislative reform and, as Tollefson describes it, “training up the next generation of young public interest environmental lawyers.”

Tollefson, who served as a former president of Ecojustice, one of Canada's most prominent environmental legal non-profits, Tweet: There is more work than existing environmental law organizations can handle http://bit.ly/2aBXcoG #bcpolisaid there is more work than existing organizations can handle.

That sentiment is echoed by Bob Peart, executive director of Sierra Club BC, and one of the centre's first clients. 

“I think litigation is vital and it's so hard to move this government in any other way,” Peart told DeSmog Canada. “You can build up the wall of public noise as much as you like but litigation seems to be a lever they at least half listen to.”

B.C. Faces Lawsuit Over Rushed Site C Permits

The B.C. government is being taken to court for giving BC Hydro permission to move amphibian species along the banks of the Peace River during construction of the Site C dam.

The legal challenge, recently filed by Josette Weir and Sierra Club BC, asks for a judicial review of the government’s actions in June when a regional manager with the Tweet: FLNRO granted @BCHydro permission to perform amphibian salvage w/o proper permits http://bit.ly/2auxrHe #bcpoli #SiteC #cdnpoliMinistry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) granted BC Hydro permission to perform amphibian salvage without proper permits issued in accordance with the Wildlife Act.

The emergency permits, first revealed by DeSmog Canada, raise questions about the relationship between government ministries and BC Hydro, which is under pressure to keep to Premier Christy Clark's word to get the dam “past the point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election.

Elizabeth May Calls Site C ‘Litmus Test’ for Trudeau’s First Nations Promises in New Video

Justin Trudeau and his cabinet must uphold their promise to respect First Nations rights when it comes to federal decision-making for the Site C dam, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May told DeSmog Canada while visiting a portion of the Peace River that will be flooded should the $9-billion project proceed.

To me this project represents the litmus test for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entire cabinet in their central commitment to establish a nation to nation relationship built on respect for Canada’s Fist Nations,” May said during an interview for a new DeSmog Canada Site C video.

May and DeSmog Canada were in the Peace Valley for the annual Paddle for the Peace where hundreds of people representing local landowners, First Nations, and environmental organizations voiced their opposition to the Site C dam.

WATCH: Halalt First Nation’s Fight Against Vancouver Island Pulp Mill Pollution

Tweet: When a pulp mill was renovated in 1980s, ancestral remains of Halalt #FirstNation were found under a cement heli pad http://bit.ly/2ab7oHLWhen the Catalyst Paper Company’s pulp mill was renovated in the 1980s, ancestral remains of the Halalt First Nation were found underneath a cement helicopter pad. The discovery was yet another piece of evidence that the mill, located in Crofton, B.C. about 45 kilometres north of Victoria, was built on culturally sensitive First Nation’s territory.

But according to the Halalt First Nation, cultural damage is only a part of the harm caused by the industrial facility, operating since 1957, that is responsible for the release of endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing dioxins and furans into the local environment.

According to Eli Enns, director of operations for the Halaht, the ongoing pollution in the region is wreaking havoc on the local environment.

You have the Crofton mill itself which has unfortunately cemented right over sacred burial sites of the Halalt Coast Salish peoples,” Enns says in a new film, premiered by the nation here on DeSmog Canada (see below).

It has totally destroyed the estuary and traditional food systems for the Halalt. It has inundated the airshed with all kinds of toxic pollutants which will probably have long lasting and unpredictable effects on the health of the Halalt people and other local communities.”

Dioxins and furans, the byproduct of a chlorine bleaching process, bioaccumulate in the food chain and are stored in the fatty tissues of animals. The presence of dioxins in animals has been linked to birth defects, spontaneous abortions and tumors.

Site C Project Far From Clean and Green, Finds New UBC Report

The Site C dam, advanced as the province’s showcase clean energy project by the B.C. government, Tweet: New report: #SiteC will cause significant environmental damage without any significant #climate benefit http://bit.ly/29RAOLg #bcpoliwill cause significant environmental damage without any significant climate benefit, according to a new report from the University of British Columbia.

Authored by Rick Hendriks from Camerado Energy Consulting, the report found Site C, a BC Hydro megadam proposed for the Peace River near Fort St. John, will not provide energy at a lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rate than other alternative energy projects.

The government stated that the unprecedented level of significant adverse environmental effects from Site C are justifiable, in part, because the project delivers energy and capacity at lower GHG emissions than the available alternatives,” Hendriks, an energy consultant with more than 20 years experience analyzing large-scale hydropower projects, said.

Our analysis indicates this is not the case.”

Comparing BC Hydro’s own data on Site C and alternative energy scenarios, the report found the megadam provides no substantial benefit over other renewable sources like wind and solar.

Strange Bedfellows: Alberta Brings Former Adversaries Together for New Oilsands Advisory Group

After decades of insufficient or insincere attempts to address emissions from Canada’s fastest growing source of climate pollution, a new government-sponsored oilsands advisory group may help resolve political gridlock surrounding the nation’s most contentious natural resource by bringing together industry, environmental and indigenous stakeholders.

The Oil Sands Advisory Group (OSAG) is tasked with helping the province implement a new emissions cap for the oilsands that limits greenhouse gas output to 100 megatonnes per year and will also advise on reducing the overall environmental impacts of production, according to a government statement released Wednesday.

According to Tzeporah Berman, the group's co-chair and a well-known environmentalist, the composition of the advisory group represents a notable shift in the political landscape.

Let's be clear: under previous governments environmental leaders had very little access and were outright ridiculed by many ministers and departments,” Berman told DeSmog Canada. “First Nations leaders were simply shut out. Climate change was denied.”

Tweet: ‘A lot has changed in a year in #Alberta and it is opening up new conversations.’ http://bit.ly/29UdURT @Tzeporah #ableg #bcpoli #cdnpoliA lot has changed in a year in Alberta and it is opening up new conversations.”

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