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.

Will Alberta’s Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Caribou Be Enough?

Woodland Caribou

When the Alberta government released its draft plan to save the province’s dwindling caribou populations from local extinction earlier this month, it was heralded as a major step forward — but big questions remain.

The biggest one: after years of failing to intervene in the caribou crisis, will the new plan be enough to bring them back from the brink of extinction?

It was great news for northwest populations where big protected areas are needed and there’s still time there to ensure caribou recovery,” conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell from the Alberta Wilderness Association told DeSmog Canada.

But when it comes to the Little Smoky range, it’s still not enough, Campbell said.

The problem is the underlying causes of predation are still allowed to worsen in the next five years by restarting logging and by implying energy infrastructure can still go ahead,” she said. “We can’t support the plan continuing to destroy habitat.”

EXCLUSIVE: B.C. Government Broke Law to Expedite Site C Dam Construction, Legal Experts Say

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) granted BC Hydro several exemptions from the B.C. Wildlife Act to keep Site C dam construction from falling behind expected timelines, DeSmog Canada has learned.

The exemptions have some local First Nations and legal experts concerned Premier Christy Clark’s promise to “push the project past the point of no return” is occurring at the cost of B.C.’s own permitting rules and wildlife management.

BC Hydro has gone rogue,” Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation told DeSmog Canada. “Worse yet, the province is aware of the situation and chooses to look the other way. What’s the point of having a regulator if it refuses to regulate?”

E-mail correspondence obtained by DeSmog Canada show BC Hydro requested last-minute permission from the Ministry of Forests to undertake “emergency amphibian salvage” along the banks of the Peace River. The ministry granted BC Hydro several exemptions from the Wildlife Act to conduct the work — something legal experts say is against the law.

Cost of Abandoned, Contaminated Mine Sites in B.C. $508 Million, Up 83 Per Cent Since 2014

Costs associated with the closure and reclamation of 84 abandoned industrial sites, mostly from mining, in B.C. have increased to $508 million, according to new information released from the Crown Contaminated Sites Program.

Responsibility for the sites has fallen to the province because the owners or operators of the projects “no longer exist,” according to a provincial press release

The estimated cleanup costs have grown by $231 million since 2014, representing an increase of 83.4 per cent, watchdog group MiningWatch notes

According to the province, a number of the mines, like the Britannia Mine near Squamish, or the Bralorne-Takla Mine in northern B.C., that now present a risk to human and enviornmental health, operated before 1969 when modern environmental legislation was created.

Although the province is quick to highlight work done over the past two years to clean up contaminated sites, Ugo Lapointe from MiningWatch says the significant growth in overall liability signals an urgent need for reform in the mining sector.

Federal Investigation Finds Site C Air Quality Monitors Turned Off

To celebrate Clean Air Day, June 8, the B.C. Government issued a press release celebrating the province’s air quality in the Peace region, home to extensive natural gas operations and Site C dam construction.

The press release, which praises the “successful partnership to ensure continued clean air in the Peace region,” came on the heels of a federal warning issued to BC Hydro for failing to turn on air quality monitors near Site C dam construction.

Federal investigators with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) discovered monitors near Site C operations, Tweet: #SiteC decides not to turn on air quality monitors #carbonmonoxide #nitrogendioxide #sulphurdioxide http://bit.ly/1U9v8ca #bcpoliwhich measure total suspended particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were not collecting any data.

CEAA compliance and enforcement chief Michel Vitou issued a warning letter to BC Hydro on May 26, saying the crown corporation “has been unable to monitor air quality effects in order to inform the appropriate authorities of exceedance of federal and provincial air quality standards.”

Shell Gives Up Nearly 40-Year Fight for Expired Arctic Permits, Opening Up Conservation Area

Canadian conservation groups are celebrating the proposed creation of an Arctic marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound, a region long-threatened by the possibility of exploratory oil and gas drilling.

Shell Canada first applied for exploration rights in Lancaster Sound in 1971 and although the related permits were set to expire by 1979 and despite a moratorium on drilling in the region, they inexplicably remained listed on the public registry of active permits.

Those permits, which granted Shell offshore rights in the waters of Baffin Bay, frustrated a decades-long fight to protect the biodiversity rich Lancaster Sound, an area famous for its large populations of narwhal, beluga, walrus and polar bear.

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.

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