british columbia

EXCLUSIVE: B.C. Government Should Have Deferred Site C Dam Decision, Says Chair of Joint Review Panel

Peace Valley Site C Dam

In his first interview on the Site C dam, the chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada's largest current infrastructure project said the B.C. government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision by a few years.

There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions, some of which would be markedly advanced by waiting three or four years,” Harry Swain told DeSmog Canada. “And you’d still be within the period of time, even by Hydro’s bullish forecasts, when you’re going to need the juice.”

Swain, a former deputy minister of Industry Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, spoke to DeSmog Canada on his own behalf, not on behalf of the panel. In a wide-reaching interview, Swain also described the province’s failure to investigate alternatives to the dam as a “dereliction of duty.”

B.C. Ought to Consider Petronas’ Human Rights Record Before Bowing to Malaysian Company's LNG Demands

Penan people of Sarawak blockade a Petronas pipeline

It should come as no surprise that Petronas expects B.C. to cave in to its demands to expedite the process of approving its Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and natural gas pipeline, lowering taxes and weakening environmental regulations in the process.

After all, Petronas has a well-established record of getting what it wants in the other countries it operates in, such as Sudan, Myanmar, Chad and Malaysia.

This week, the B.C. government did cave to at least one Petronas’ demands — cutting the peak income tax rate for LNG facilities from seven to 3.5 per cent, thereby slashing in half the amount of revenue it’s expecting to receive from the liquefied natural industry.  The government also introduced a standard for carbon pollution for B.C.’s LNG industry, which was hailed as a step in the right direction, but not enough.

In considering Petronas’ bid to develop B.C.’s natural gas resources, it is vital that we consider the company’s track record.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to witness the destruction caused by a Petronas pipeline, while working with the international NGO Global Witness. While staying with the semi-nomadic Penan people of Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), I heard testimony of how the company had treated them in the course of constructing the pipeline.

Community on Forefront of Climate Change Adaptation Offers Lessons about Food Security

Hartley Bay

Food is at the heart of our cultural lives. It’s not just sustenance—it’s part of how we celebrate, how we mourn and how we come together. But what happens when the food that defines us begins to disappear?

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report released in March, climate change is already having an affect on food security. Extreme weather in “key producing regions” has already led to drastic jumps in food pricing. In cities we are padded from these effects by long supply chains, but not so in places like Hartley Bay on the northern coast of British Columbia.

New Poll Finds Most B.C. Residents Want Shift From Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

A wind turbine, clean energy, BC

A new poll released Thursday finds that more than three quarters of British Columbia residents want the province to shift away from producing, using and exporting fossil fuels and to embrace cleaner sources of energy.

The online survey, conducted by Strategic Communications Inc., found that 78 per cent of British Columbians agree that B.C. should transition away from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy to prevent climate change from worsening, compared to 17 per cent who disagree.

“As climate science continues to demonstrate, climate change could have devastating impacts on both the environment and the economy,” said Kevin Sauve, spokesperson for the Pembina Institute in B.C.

“It's encouraging to see that British Columbians are on the same page. Not only do they understand the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels but see economic benefits in developing cleaner sources of energy as well.”

Nothing to Hide: Pipelines, Spies and Animal Print Underpants

jess housty

More and more often, we are reading in the news about the federal government and various intelligence and law enforcement agencies allegedly “spying” on aboriginals and pipeline opponents.

I am both of those things. I have no idea whether strangers are picking up shards of information from my emails and text messages. I have no idea what kind of beautiful stained-glass mosaics their imaginations might create. But in the spirit of wild and optimistic honesty, I would like to make a declaration to them, just in case:

I have nothing to hide from you.

Sometimes I can be arrogant. I’m very bad at playing guitar, but you know, I think I can sing pretty nicely. I like an embarrassing amount of honey in my tea. When I hike in the forest, I like to run. I write poems on napkins and receipts and scraps of paper and most of the time, I lose them; maybe you’ve found some. I don’t make my bed. Even though I think they’re silly, sometimes when it’s laundry day I resort to wearing animal print underpants.

Poll Finds Most B.C. Residents Still Strongly Oppose Enbridge Oil Tanker and Pipeline Proposal

Vancouver Enbridge Noise demonstration

According to a recent poll commissioned by four environmental groups, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of residents in British Columbia oppose Enbridge's plan to transport crude oil through B.C. using the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tankers.

The hybrid telephone-online poll, conducted by Justason Market Intelligence, found that 50 per cent of B.C. residents strongly oppose the Enbridge proposal, compared to 12 per cent who strongly support it.

The poll was commissioned by Dogwood Initiative, ForestEthics Advocacy, Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research and West Coast Environmental Law. Six hundred adult British Columbians were surveyed from January 13 to January 19, 2014 through random telephone sampling and Justason's online panel.

209 Ways to Fail: Northern Gateway Conditions Demystified

Douglas Channel, near Kitimat B.C.

After Northern Gateway’s lengthy, contentious joint review process, putting any faith in the ability of the National Energy Board to hold Enbridge accountable may feel foolish. And yet, the National Energy Board (NEB) may be the closest thing to an ally in government this project provides.

Right now, the Northern Gateway oil tanker and pipeline project is in a holding pattern while the federal cabinet reviews the recommendations from the NEB's Joint Review Panel. Barring delays or injunctions from any of the pending legal challenges, cabinet will announce its decision sometime in the next five months.

While there are, of course, all number of other legitimate hurdles, including ongoing First Nations legal challenges and the possibility the province could deny necessary permits, as of right now, cabinet approval and the 209 conditions recommended by the NEB are the only federal government-mandated steps standing in the way of bitumen-loaded tankers and Douglas Channel. Isn't it time they deserved a closer look?

Environmental Groups Respond to Northern Gateway Report, File Lawsuit to Block Pipeline Approval

Northern Gateway Pipeline

Environmental groups, including ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, filed a lawsuit today to block cabinet approval of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.  

Ecojustice lawyers representing the three groups filed the lawsuit at the federal court level, saying that the Joint Review Panel's (JRP) final report on the pipeline is based on insufficient evidence and does not satisfy the legislated requirements of the environmental assessment process.

“The JRP did not have enough evidence to support its conclusion that the Northern Gateway pipeline would not have significant adverse effects on certain aspects of the environment,” said Karen Campbell, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

New Spill Response Study Finds Tanker Owners Not Financially Responsible for Damage Caused By Spills

Kinder Morgan terminal Burrard Inlet

A new independent report has revealed that there's nothing on the books in Canada to ensure the owners of tankers that spill oil on the west coast will be held financially accountable for damage to communities and individuals.

The West Coast Spill Response Study, released late last week by the Province of British Columbia, outlines the major gaps in both federal and provincial oil spill response plans, most notably the hole where legislation requiring polluters to pay should be.

The Ministry of Environment says the report “lays the foundation for building a world-class marine spill response and preparedness system.” But if this is what the foundation looks like, there’s a long way to go before the house is complete. The report reveals that tanker companies are not legally responsible for compensating individuals or communities affected by long-term environmental damage, such as that caused by oil spills off the BC coast. The report further states that there are no regulations in place to establish environmental impact or determine how compensation should be given, and while the BC government has the authority to restore damaged coastline habitats, there’s currently no funding mechanism in place to do so.

LEAKED: Enbridge’s New Northern Gateway Pipeline Ad Campaign “Open to Better”

Northern Gateway Pipeline Enbridge Advertising Campaign Leaked

DeSmog Canada has obtained leaked copies of Enbridge’s new Northern Gateway Pipeline advertising campaign notes, including a ‘mood board’ that sets the tone for images surrounding the project, outlines and scripts for television commercials, and creative platforms for other advertising materials. The theme of the campaign is “Open to Better.”

The documents also reveal Enbridge’s attempt to convince British Columbian’s that Premier Christy Clark’s 5 conditions, which were set as terms for the project’s approval, have been met. Two characters, Janet Holder, Enbridge's VP, and ‘The Orca,’ are used to express how the Northern Gateway Pipeline will offer British Columbian’s what they want: what is better.

DeSmog Canada will provide more analysis of the new campaign in posts to come, but for now, feast your eyes and ask yourself, is building a pipeline for the export of Alberta’s tar sands oil really being ‘open to better?’ Or is it a refusal to actually be better – at managing our resources, addressing the social and environmental pollution associated with our fossil fuel dependence, and beginning the transition to clean energy solutions?


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