Carol Linnitt

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Carol Linnitt is Managing Editor and Director of Research for DeSmog Canada. Carol is a writer and researcher focusing on energy development, environmental policy and wildlife. She joined DeSmog in June 2010 as a researcher, focusing much of her time on the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing.

Carol is the lead author of DeSmog's original report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health & Climate. Her work also led to the DeSmog micro-documentary CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story and the Cry Wolf investigative series.

Carol began her environmental career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity.

Carol has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural resource conflicts and Aboriginal rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria in the English and Cultural, Social and Political Thought programs.

National Energy Board Gives Green Light to Kinder Morgan Pipeline Following Review Process Plagued with Failures

The National Energy Board (NEB) recommended a conditional approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion today after a years-long review process many participants criticized as inadequate, rushed and lacking in transparency.

In a filing posted Thursday the NEB recommended cabinet approve the project, subject to 157 conditions.

Taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors, and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the Board found that the benefits of the Project would outweigh the residual burdens,” the filing states.

Yet many individuals and organizations involved in the process say today’s recommendation comes on the heels of a beleaguered review process that did not consider many of the risks of the project.

Today’s recommendation is exactly as we expected given the way this panel approached the review,” Robyn Allan, former CEO of ICBC and economic risk expert, told DeSmog Canada. “It was simply set up as a way to get to yes.”

Christy Clark’s Hand-Picked Climate Team Voices Frustration at B.C.’s Lack of Climate Leadership in Open Letter

Seven members of Christy Clark’s hand-picked, blue-ribbon Climate Leadership Team are going public with their disappointment in the province’s lack of climate action in an open letter released Monday.

Signatories include noted environmental leader Tzeporah Berman, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, Chief Ian Campbell, professor of oceanography at the University of Victoria, Tom Pederson, B.C. associate director of the Pembina Institute, Matt Horne, Cayoose Creek Band chief, Michelle Edwards, professor Nancy Olewiler and executive director of Clean Energy Canada, Merran Smith.

The letter, addressed to Clark, states B.C. is in no position to shrug off the 32 recommendations made by the team last November in advance of the UN Paris Climate Talks. At the talks, Clark used the Climate Leadership Team’s work to bolster the province’s environmental credibility.

But the team itself is saying the B.C. Liberals have failed to implement the recommendations made by the group of experts. B.C has consistently pushed back the release date of a provincial climate plan.

The province, once an international leader in carbon pricing, has stalled action on climate by imposing a restriction on carbon pricing, creating loopholes for large industrial emitters and agressively advancing the creation of an LNG export industry. Compared to provinces like Ontario, which just announced $7 billion in funding for an ambitious climate plan, and Alberta, which announced an ambitious plan to phase out all coal-fired power plants last fall, B.C. is quickly falling behind.

B.C. Changes Boundary of Provincial Park to Make Way for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

The B.C. government passed legislation that changes the boundaries of Finn Creek Provincial Park last Thursday, to make way for the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline even though the province has yet to give its approval to the controversial project.

In its pipeline expansion allocation Kinder Morgan requested the province redraw the boundaries of four provincial parks to facilitate pipeline construction.

Last week B.C. changed the boundaries of Finn Creek Provincial Park to make way for the pipeline that is currently undergoing review with the federal National Energy Board. The NEB’s final recommendation is expected by May 20.

This pipeline project clearly threatens the values that this park was established to protect,” Peter Wood with the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), said. “It should never have been allowed to proceed this far, let alone be approved. Allowing industrial activity in an ecologically sensitive area like Finn Creek Park runs counter to the government’s mandate of protecting these places.”

Josh Fox Finds 'No End to Human Innovation' in New Climate Doc

When you stare at climate change, sometimes climate change stares back.

So what happens when one refuses to look away?

That’s the challenge taken on by filmmaker Josh Fox in his new film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

Like its title, the film is a long and artful look at an almost too-familiar topic, but one that takes you to unexpected places.

Fox, celebrated for his award-winning documentary GASLAND that charted the impacts of prolific fracking in the U.S., including near his home in the Delaware river basin, begins How to Let Go of the World by celebrating a local success against the gas industry in Pennsylvania.

But his celebration, which is marked by some impressive dad dancing, is cut short by the realization that a beloved family tree has been overtaken by woolly adelgids, an insect infestation prompted by the warmer winters of climate change.

B.C. Government, Enbridge Ordered to Pay $230,000 in Court Costs to First Nations for Failed Consultation

The province of British Columbia and Enbridge Northern Gateway are being ordered to pay $230,000 in court costs to both the Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations after a January 2016 ruling found both parties failed to fulfill a legal obligation to consult with First Nations on the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The B.C. Supreme Court found the province contravened consultation rules in 2010 when it signed an equivalency agreement that granted environmental decision-making authority for the pipeline to the federal government. 

The January ruling was seen as a major vindication for coastal First Nations who felt the province failed to live up to its continual promise to work with and consult with First Nations communities along the pipeline route.

The awarded court costs have added to that feeling.

How the Fort McMurray Climate Conversation Went Down in Flames

Connecting extreme weather events with climate change isn’t exactly a new thing.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey in 2012, Bloomberg published a front page spread proclaiming, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”

For years, major storms, droughts, floods and fires have been connected to climate change. The climate angle was even fair game during last summer’s wildfires in western Canada.

So how did the climate conversation around the still-raging Fort McMurray wildfire that destroyed thousands of homes become so befuddling-ly messed up?

Conversations about climate change as a factor in the wildfires has garnered about as much attention as the wildfires themselves. For a recap of the “middle-finger salutes,” schadenfreude and #tinyviolins mock-sympathy for the people of Fort McMurray, check out this article on Slate.

(Add in, May 12: It's worthwhile to point out that while there were a lot of unfortunate aspects of the public conversation about the fire, many environmental NGOs rallied their organizational capacity to raise money and basic support for evacuees. The executive directors of Canada's most prominent environmental groups including the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Ecology Ottawa, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, Greenpeace, LeadNow, Sierra Club, Stand and West Coast Environmental Law urged support for evacuees in a joint press release published Friday, May 6.)

Cara Pike, climate communications expert with Climate Access, says the urge to link what’s happening in Fort McMurray to climate change should be tempered by a keen sensitivity to the very real human suffering on the ground.

Geothermal Could Put Thousands from Alberta’s Oil and Gas Sector Back to Work

Abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta are on the rise — but where many see a growing liability, Alberta’s fledgling geothermal industry sees massive opportunity.
 
“We’ve got these old wells that we know are hot and we’re going to fill them with cement and walk away,” says Tim Davies, CEO of geothermal company Turkana. “It’s just stupid.”
 
There’s currently no permitting framework for geothermal in Alberta, leaving the renewable energy out of play.
 
“I own the well, I own the land and I own the oil. But I can’t own the heat,” Davies said. “There’s just no mechanism for that in place.”
 
“The oil business has drilled 400,000 wells in Alberta alone,” Alison Thompson, president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, told DeSmog Canada. “They’ve already found all the hot water the province has.”

Brave, Beautiful, Renewable: Exploring Geothermal Energy in Iceland

A drive along Iceland’s ‘ring road,’ a winding narrow highway that encircles the isolated island’s 1,332 kilometre circumference, will take you from the sublime to the beautifully desolate in quick succession as views of snow spotted mountains give way lava fields, relatively young in geologic time at 800 years, covered in the country’s signature muted green moss.
 
But perhaps no natural feature is so stunningly otherworldly than Iceland’s geothermal activity.
 
The remote island is the outcome of upwelling forces, emerging in the volcanic seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The result is a remarkably active geologic landscape, one pitted with boiling mud pots, meandering hot rivers and steaming caverns that open up out of a serene landscape like gaping mouths of Hades.
 
One of my first day trips, along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, I stop at the Geysir geothermal valley, a popular tourist hot spot (the English word geyser is a derivative of the Icelandic word geysir, which means gusher). The Strokkur Geysir, like Old Faithful, is a pressurized water column that superheats and erupts at regular intervals, blasting 25 to 30 metres into the air above a crowd of camera-ready spectators.
 
Both laconic hot pools and violently boiling cauldrons of water surround the Geysir, all of which can be seen from a vantage point just a short hike up the hill. Small-scale geothermal stations, used in a domestic capacity at houses and farms, dot the landscape, easily identifiable with their consistent plumes of steam rising into the mid-day sky, which at this latitude, above 64 degrees north, seems a bluer blue.

Canada Has Enormous Geothermal Potential. Why Aren’t We Using it?

Like a stand of eager horses chomping at the bit, Canada’s young geothermal industry is waiting impatiently at the starting line, ready for the race to begin.
 
But there’s no starting pistol in sight. At least, not yet.
 
Getting geothermal projects up and running in Canada “has been harder than it needs to be,” according to Alison Thompson, founder and president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CANGea).
 
Thompson, along with a group of delegates from Canada’s geothermal industry, is currently in Reykjavik at the Iceland Geothermal Conference where delegates, experts and scientists from around the world are swapping stories from the geothermal trenches.
 
Despite having the second largest delegation at the conference after Iceland, Canada has little to show or tell.
 
“Canada has an incredibly high quality resource and we can’t even get out of the starting gate,” Thompson told DeSmog Canada.

Shady Corporate and Foreign Donations Don’t Belong in B.C. Elections: New Poll

Christy Clark recently turned down the opportunity to limit foreign and corporate donations to political parties in campaigns. She justified her position by simply stating, “I represent everyone.”
 
Yet a new poll conducted by Insights West found the vast majority of British Columbians — 86 per cent — support a ban on both corporate and union political donations.
 
The poll, conducted on behalf of the Dogwood Initiative, a democracy advocacy organization, suggests Clark’s cozy relationship with major foreign and corporate donors could put her in the hot seat leading into the province’s next election.
 
That seat is likely to be even hotter after revelations Clark takes a cut of funds donated to the B.C. Liberal party through exclusive cash-for-access events that can cost up to $20,000 dollars to attend.
 
A high percentage of B.C. Liberal donors, 81 per cent, and an even higher number of B.C. NDP voters, 91 per cent, support putting a ban on corporate and union donations before the next election.

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