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Meet The Forestry Town Striving to Become Canada’s First Geothermal Village

(Valemount, B.C.) — Tweet: Town of #Valemount wants to reinvent itself as a #renewable energy leader http://bit.ly/2b4X9iG #geothermal #bcpoliA forestry town is working to re-invent itself as a renewable energy leader with a project that promises community revitalization from the ground up.  

The mountain village of Valemount, British Columbia, located along the Rocky Mountain trench is eyeing the nearby Canoe Reach hot springs — one of the hottest surface hot springs in Canada — as a source of geothermal heat and renewable electricity generation.

Valemount used to be a typical northern forest town,” Silvio Gislimberti, head of the Valemount Geothermal Association, told DeSmog Canada. “But now we would like to create a geothermal industrial park.”

An old mill that shut down in 2007 provides a near perfect location for Borealis Geopower, the company working with the community to make something of the region’s geothermal potential.

Craig Dunn, chief geologist with Borealis Geopower, said Valemount is one of the best-known hot spots for geothermal development in all of Canada.

The resource opportunity is pretty incredible all the way down the Rocky Mountain trench, including opportunities like Radium and Fairmont, which are all a part of the system.”

Valemount has a “competitive advantage” according to Gislimberti.

Increased Oil Tankers, Coal Exports a Threat to B.C.’s Struggling Resident Killer Whale Populations

Residents of the Salish Sea region spanning B.C. and Washington State were horrified recently at a photograph taken of a Southern Resident killer whale that appeared undernourished, with ribs visibly protruding from his side.

That idea that local killer whales might be starving is central to new research by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation that found Tweet: #Orca whales in southern BC are severely affected by depleted salmon runs & shipping vessel disturbance http://bit.ly/2aSEpow #bcpolikiller whales in southern B.C. are severely affected by depleted salmon runs and shipping vessel disturbance.

The lower Fraser River is one of the most important Chinook salmon runs and watersheds for Southern Resident killer whales,” Raincoast biologist Misty MacDuffee told DeSmog Canada.

We are compromising those salmon at every stage whether it is their early life history or their marine survival or their route to spawning grounds.”

Raincoast’s research has found the number of resident killer whales is highly correlated with the number of Chinook salmon.

Mount Polley Mine Disaster Two Years In: ‘It’s Worse Than It’s Ever Been’

Thursday marks two years since the Mount Polley mine disaster in Likely, B.C. where a tailings pond collapse spilled 25 million cubic metres of mining waste, laced with contaminants like arsenic, lead and copper, into the once-pristine Quesnel Lake, a major salmon spawning ground and source of drinking water.

Suncor Opens Conversation about ‘Stranded Assets’ in Alberta’s Oilsands

Suncor Energy CEO Steve Williams rocked the oil industry boat Thursday when he announced a plan to leave some of the company’s oilsands reserves unrecovered during a conference call with investors.

Williams said the company is working to develop a plan with Alberta to “strand” its least economical reserves, a proposal that appears to align with the call of environmentalists to leave the high-cost and high-carbon fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Tweet: Whoa: ‘We’re advocating in a modest way to work with govt so we can strand some of the oil in the oilsands’ http://bit.ly/2aO78OU #ablegWe are advocating in a modest way to work with government so that we can strand some of the oil in the oilsands,” Williams said, as reported by The Canadian Press.

Our regulation is written so that we take to a very high percentage the last piece of oil out. That tends to be the most expensive both economically and environmentally. What we would like to do is leave that last piece in (the ground),” he said.

I’m very optimistic we are making some breakthroughs with government to do that.”

The proposal is about more than leaving some oil deposits undeveloped, according to Simon Dyer, director of the Pembina Institute.

We’re talking about Alberta moving philosophically from maximizing production to optimizing value,” Dyer told DeSmog Canada.

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.

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