Environment Canada

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.”

DeSmogCAST 14: Canada's Silenced Scientists, Tanker Train Industry Fights and Coal's Climate Secret

In this episode of DeSmogCAST host Farron Cousins discusses DeSmog Canada's recently unsuccessful attempt to interview an Environment Canada scientist.
Steve Horn from DeSmogBlog gives the background story to the in-fighting between oil refiners and tanker train operators who don't want to pay extra to transport dangerous fuels like Bakkan oil or diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands.
Finally Cousins asks DeSmogBlog's Mike Gaworecki to explain new revelations that coal companies are taking climate change very seriously - but only behind closed doors.

Canada Will Miss Its Climate Target And We’ll All Miss Out

I don’t think anyone in Canada expects our good country to meet its climate target — even with the imminent pressure of the UNFCCC meeting in Paris later this year weighing down on our collective shoulders.

We have no reason to harbour that expectation given that our own federal government via Environment Canada has been telling us for years that Canada is running off the climate track and — because of growing emissions largely from the oil and gas sector — we are getting farther and farther away from meeting our government's self-imposed climate targets.

Because of that climate failure, Canada is holding all of us back from prosperity, jobs and better health.

That’s according to a new study of benefits from international emission pledges made in the lead up to December’s UN climate summit.

Developed countries around the world — with the exception of Canada and Japan — are unveiling their individual climate plans, which are due today.

Access Denied: Ministry of Environment Vetoes Interview Request on Oilsands Toxins in Animals

Documents obtained by DeSmog Canada reveal that Canada’s Ministry of Environment vetoed an interview request on toxins in fur-bearing animals in the oilsands, even though the federal scientist was “media trained and interested in doing the interview.”

The Environment Canada scientist in question, Philippe Thomas, had asked members of the Alberta Trappers Association to send him samples of fur-bearing animals caught across Alberta in 2012. Thomas needed a broad range of samples to gain deeper insight into the contaminant load in animals living near the oilsands.

In late 2012, DeSmog Canada submitted a request to interview Thomas, and provided several written questions to Environment Canada to review.

Documents obtained via Access to Information legislation show that pre-scripted responses were prepared for Thomas should the interview be approved at the upper levels. The request was approved at the deputy general level, but denied in the office of former Environment Minister Peter Kent.

Environment Canada Study Reveals Oilsands Tailings Ponds Emit Toxins to Atmosphere at Much Higher Levels than Reported

There are more than 176 square kilometres of tailings ponds holding waste from oilsands development in the area around Fort McMurray, Alberta. According to new research released from Environment Canada, those tailings ponds are emitting much higher levels of toxic and potentially cancer-causing contaminants into the air than previously reported.

As the Canadian Press reports, Environment Canada scientist Elisabeth Galarneau is the first to conduct field studies in the region and her research confirms that previous estimates of chemical release into the air have been massively underestimated.

We found that there actually does appear to be a net flow of these compounds going from water to air,” Galarneau told the Canadian Press. “It’s just a bit under five times higher from the ponds than what’s been reported.”

A previous study used modeling to estimate potential chemical release, but Galarneau’s study, published recently in the journal of Atmospheric Environment, relied on air samples and filters located in the study region.

Critics Call Harper Government’s New Climate PR Campaign ‘Orwellian’

environment canada, climate change, pr campaign

Facing criticism in the lead up to today’s UN Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper is not attending, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada, praising the country’s action on climate change.

The campaign points to four pillars of Canada’s climate progress including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate adaptation, “world-class scientific research to inform decision-making,” and international leadership in climate action.

Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada’s waning reputation on the international stage for its climate obstruction, the muzzling of scientists, the elimination of environmental legislation and massive cuts to federal research and science programs.

Reading the Harper government’s claims about its climate efforts is like reading one of Orwell’s books,” Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environment Management, said.

Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth.”

Harper’s Timeline: Canada on Climate Change from 2006-2014

stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, un climate summit

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

On the eve of an international climate change summit of government leaders in New York, Canada is being challenged about its own domestic record in addressing the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.

Here’s a historical timeline of some of the major climate change policies, statements and related decisions made by Canada since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected to form a government.

From a pledge to introduce a carbon tax in 2007 to internal debates about climate change science, this timeline covers the promises and the action by the Canadian government in recent years.

Canada Singled Out in International Report on Endangered Science

muzzling of scientists zack embree

A push to prioritize economic gains over basic research is endangering science and academic freedom in countries around the world, according to a new report published by a leading researchers union, the French National Trade Union of Scientific Researchers (SNCS-FSU).

The group surveyed higher education and research unions in 12 countries including France, Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

The research union found governments internationally are pushing for policies “geared towards innovation in order to spur consumption and competitiveness,” according to Patrick Monfort, secretary-general of the SNCS-FSU. “Budget cuts are often blamed for our problems,” he said, “but they are only part of the picture.”

Monfort told the prestigious journal Nature that scientists in Canada have been particularly hard hit, not only by broad funding cuts, but contentious communications protocols that prevent their freedom of expression.

Canadian Government Suggests Oilsands Toxins Similar to 'BBQ'ed Steak'

Suncor Energy oilsands mine

This is a guest post by Mike De Souza. It originally appeared on mikedesouza.com and is republished here with permission. 

Ten days ago, I asked Environment Canada whether any of its scientists would be available for interviews about their research.

The department hasn’t yet answered this question along with others.

The questions arose following the publication of a new study concluding that deposits of toxic mercury were forming a bull’s eye around oilsands operations in Alberta.

The scientists who did the research from Environment Canada were previously discouraged from talking about their work at a science conference in 2011, according to documents released through access to information legislation.

Those documents included a script that suggested they downplay human health impacts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxin that can originate from smokestacks in oilsands facilities or other industrial development, by comparing it to food fit for consumption.

If pressed on human health (say that) these (oilsands) substances are also found in BBQ’ed steak,” said the script, which was shared with the offices of former natural resources minister Joe Oliver – now the finance minister – and former environment minister Peter Kent, who is still sitting as a Conservative MP.

Government Weather Forecasters Shouldn't Discuss Climate Change: Environment Canada

Weathergirl Goes Rogue

This post originally appeared on MikeDeSouza.com and is republished here with permission.

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

Environment Canada made the comments in response to e-mailed questions about its communications policy.

The department defended its policy by suggesting that Environment Canada meteorologists — among the most widely quoted group of government experts in media reports and broadcasts — weren’t qualified to answer questions about climate change.

Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,” said spokesman Mark Johnson in an e-mail. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.”


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