Enbridge

Shooting the Messenger: Tracing Canada’s Anti-Enviro Movement

Vivian Krause

When former environment minister Jim Prentice held his introductory lunch with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson in November 2009, Prentice described to Jacobson how he had been shocked during a visit to Norway to find heated opposition to the Alberta oilsands during a public debate over state-owned StatOil ASA’s investment there.

This information was contained in a cable from Jacobson, which was obtained by WikiLeaks and posted by a Norwegian paper.

Prentice was clearly feeling the heat from a global campaign by environmental organizations to frame oilsands oil as “dirty” because of its energy-intensive extraction, which make for Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The public sentiment in Norway shocked him and has heightened his awareness of the negative consequences to Canada’s historically ‘green’ standing on the world stage,” the cable reported.

Montreal Wants to Examine Safety of Line 9 With Hydrostatic Test

A Quebec citizen group is applauding a resolution by the Greater Montreal Area’s governing body asking the National Energy Board for a hydrostatic safety test of the Line 9 oil pipeline before it goes back into operation this summer.

We would like to thank the CMM (Greater Montreal Area) and its president, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, as well as the numerous other elected bodies that have listened to the concerns of the public, and acted swiftly on this safety issue by adopting similar resolutions and forwarding them to the NEB,” Lorraine Caron, a spokesperson for the citizen group Les Citoyens au Courant, said.

The governing body, better known as the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal or Montreal Metropolitan Community, passed the resolution in a meeting on April 30. Line 9, a 39-year old Enbridge pipeline, runs through a densely populated corridor from Montreal, through Toronto and on to Sarnia in southwestern Ontario.

Citizen groups, and environmental organizations in Ontario and Quebec have been voicing concerns for over two years on whether Line 9 — the twin in age and design of the Enbridge pipeline that ruptured in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 — can operate safely at an increased capacity and while transporting oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen.

Internal Documents Show Feds Doubted Their Own First Nations Consultation Process for Northern Gateway Pipeline

Internal documents obtained by B.C.'s Haisla Nation show the federal government had concerns about the consultation approach proposed for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline since at least 2009.

The documents, requested by the Haisla Nation nearly four years ago, were released through Access to Information legislation recently and show the federal government was warned it wasn’t fulfilling its duty to consult Aboriginal peoples as required under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.

An Environment Canada e-mail included in the documents contained a list of concerns regarding the consultation process, stating, “it is not clear that [the process] would meet the honour of the Crown duty.”

The e-mail also acknowledged “First Nations were not involved in the design of the consultation process” and that there was a “lack of clarity” concerning First Nations’ rights and title.

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross said he received the trove of documents with “mixed emotions.”

We’re very satisfied to know the staff of Environment Canada agreed with us in terms of the inadequate process in place to address rights and title,” Ross said. “But it’s disappointing this information is in our hands now when we can’t do anything with it legally or politically.”

Pipeline Industry Promises to Review Disclosure Rules After Kinder Morgan Secrecy Scandal

pipeline spill Jimmy Jeong

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) is working hard to undo damage caused by pipeline company Kinder Morgan’s refusal to release oil spill response plans in British Columbia. The company's lack of disclosure angered the province of B.C., especially when it was revealed that Kinder Morgan released detailed spill response plans in Washington State for portions of the pipeline that extend across the border.

The pipeline association recently announced it would form a task force to address the issue, hoping to waylay growing public concerns by developing “guiding principles” for disclosure.

A number of our members have faced significant public pressure to disclose all information contained in emergency response plans. The CEPA task force will work to support that by establishing clear principles and guidelines that seek to find the right balance between the public’s right to know, the privacy of personal information and the security considerations also required for public safety,” Jim Donihee, chief operating officer with CEPA, said.

UVic Report Calling for Updates to Charities Law Creates Stir

CRA charity audit charity chill, UVic, ELC report

The release of a University of Victoria study calling for updates to Canadian charitable law created quite a stir last week.

The study, prepared for DeSmog Canada, was covered by the Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist, Canadian Press, Macleans, The Tyee, Yahoo! News and CFAX.

The report called for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to clarify rules around “political activities” — defined as any activity that seeks to change, oppose or retain laws or policies — and to provide a more generous limit on allowable policy advocacy in line with other common law jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand. It also called for the creation of a politically independent charities commission to remove the potential for political interference in audits.

The findings were raised in the House of Commons by Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin, who stated the report “analyzes the alarming lack of clarity in the rules governing political activities for charities.”

Canada’s Charitable Law Urgently Needs Reforming: New UVic Report

Calvin Sandborn

A report released today by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre calls for sweeping reform of Canadian charitable law in line with other jurisdictions such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and England.

Current rules around “political activity” — defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as any activity that seeks to change, oppose or retain laws or policies — are confusing and create an “intolerable state of uncertainty,” the report says.

This has created a confused and anxious charitable sector and detracts from them carrying out their important work,” Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Environmental Law Centre, said.

The report — prepared for DeSmog Canada — comes as 52 charities are being targeted in a $13.4 million audit program launched by the federal government in 2012 to determine whether any are violating a rule that limits spending on political activities to 10 per cent of resources. Those charities include Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, Ecology Action Centre and Equiterre.

Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court

A group of citizens fighting to speak about climate change and the oilsands at National Energy Board (NEB) reviews of pipeline projects, like the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, are taking their battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The group, comprised of landowners, academics, owners of business and many others, filed a constitutional challenge against the NEB’s restrictive policies that limit public participation and prevent discussion of climate and upstream oil and gas activities.

The purpose of taking the challenge to the Supreme Court “is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly,” David Martin, legal counsel, explained in a statement.

The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong,” Martin said.

“Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail.”

Science vs Spin: Dilbit Sinks in the Real World, But Not in Studies Funded by Oil Industry

EPA Kalamazoo River Cleanup

Once the oil started to sink, it made things a lot more difficult on our recovery.”

Those were the words of Greg Powell of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during his presentation on March 10th at the National Academy of Sciences conference on the Effects of Diluted Bitumen on the Environment. Powell was one of the people involved in the response and clean up of the Kalamazoo River tar sands dilbit spill in 2010 where an Enbridge pipeline cracked and spilled approximately one million gallons of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

CSIS “Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny” Spying on Me (Or You For That Matter)

When I asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) whether it has files on me or DeSmog Canada, I got a response that's been used as a non-answer by government spokespeople and celebrity publicists for 40-plus years: We can “neither confirm nor deny” the records exist.

The intelligence body doesn't have to disclose such information because it's exempt from Canada’s Access to Information legislation since it relates to “the detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.”

Hmph. Some part of me was expecting them to simply say “no.” While non-denial denial responses like this are pretty par for the course when dealing with intelligence services — the phrase was first conjured up during a clandestine CIA submarine operation in the 1970s — it's disconcerting in light of the federal government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, which would increase the powers of CSIS and its role in government-sponsored spying.

As others have pointed out, bill C-51 will allow dangerously strong measures to be taken against even perceived terror threats or individuals that pose a threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure, such as pipelines, or the nation’s financial security.

Oil Tankers Pose Serious Risk to Under-Studied Minke Whales Off B.C. Coast, New Research Shows

A small, shy whale, may be one of the rarest marine mammals along the coast of B.C., but remarkably little is known about minke whales and the threats they face in the north-east Pacific, according to Jared Towers, research director with the Marine Education and Research Society.

Seldom-seen minke whales  unlike the splashier and much-studied killer whales and humpbacks found in B.C. waters  have no special protection, either in Canada or the U.S, and, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, more research is needed.

Information is essential if minkes are to be protected from hazards such as oil spills and vessel strikes, Towers said.

Numbers in B.C are likely to be about 388, with another 478 animals off the Washington, Oregon and California coast, Towers said.

The numbers are really much less than expected…Their numbers are probably much less than the number of killer whales,” he said.

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