Saturday, July 22, 2017 - 09:00 • James Wilt
North Atlantic right whales

If an ocean valley becomes federally protected but seismic work and offshore drilling is allowed in more than 80 per cent of the territory, is it really federally protected?

That’s the question facing Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is currently working on the final regulations for the 11,619 square kilometre Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area off the southwest coast of Newfoundland.

The proposed regulations published on June 24 in the Canada Gazette included significant allowances for offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling, as well a reduction by more than one-third in the actual size of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) from the original area plotted out in 2007.

The government admitted the regulations came about after fossil fuel lobbyists “raised concerns with respect to limitations on potential future activities.”

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 13:02 • Carol Linnitt
 Site C Construction Peace River Comparison July 2017

Although former B.C. premier Christy Clark vowed to push the $9-billion Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election, the fate of the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history is still far from certain.

B.C.'s new NDP government has vowed to send the dam for an expedited review of costs and demand by the B.C. Utilities Commission within a speedy six-week timeframe. 

New aerial photos of Site C construction show a small stretch of the Peace River valley significantly altered by excavation crews. The building of the actual dam and associated infrastructure has yet to take place. Unless the project is stopped, construction is expected to continue until 2024 when the filling of the reservoir will flood 107 kilometres of river valley, flooding valuable agricultural land and First Nations historic sites.

An analysis by the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia found that, if completed, Site C would operate at a 100 per cent surplus incurring an estimated $800 million to $2 billion loss to B.C. ratepayers. That same analysis calculated cancellation of Site C by the end of June 2017 would save B.C. between $500 million and $1.65 billion.

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 14:49 • Emma Gilchrist
Site of Pacific NorthWest LNG

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the National Energy Board (NEB) made a legal mistake by not considering whether TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline is under federal jurisdiction, thus requiring NEB approval.

The 900-kilometre natural gas pipeline would move mostly fracked gas from northeastern B.C. to the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Prince Rupert.

The pipeline was approved by the B.C. government but Smithers, B.C., resident Mike Sawyer requested that the NEB hold a full hearing to determine whether the pipeline is actually in federal jurisdiction.

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 13:50 • James Wilt
Solar panels mining

A massive open-pit copper mine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about solar power.

But the construction of photovoltaic panels actually require a wide range of metals and minerals to build. Nineteen, to be exact, including silica, indium, silver, selenium and lead. Most can be found or produced in Canada.

And as demand for solar panels continues to rapidly increase in coming years — up to a 17-fold global increase between 2015 and 2050, according to the International Energy Agency — significant quantities of these metals and minerals will be required.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 10:52 • Judith Lavoie
Ajax mine location

One of the first controversies likely to land on the desk of newly minted Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall is what to do about the proposed massive Ajax gold and copper mine on the outskirts of Kamloops that is opposed by Kamloops city council and the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation.

I think this will be one of their first tests and it will be interesting to see how a new government will handle it,” said Councillor Denis Walsh, a vocal opponent of the proposed mine.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 11:52 • Carol Linnitt
Tsilhqot'in First Nation Garth Lenz

The Tsilhqot’in First Nation — currently under an evacuation order due to B.C.’s wildfires — learned Monday that permits have been issued for mining company Taseko to conduct exploration for the New Prosperity mine, an open pit gold and copper mine twice rejected at the federal level.

Monday was the outgoing B.C. Liberal government’s final day in power. 

Copies of the documentation obtained by DeSmog Canada show the permit was granted to Taseko on Friday July 14th, as members of the Tsilhqot’in were under evacuation orders due to rampant wildfires in central B.C.

I appreciate this may come at a difficult time for you given the wildfire situation affecting some of your communities, however I made the permit decision Friday, ” Rick Adams, senior inspector with the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines, told Tsilhqot’in representatives in an e-mail.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 09:50 • Judith Lavoie
Woodland caribou

A First Nation in northeastern B.C. is challenging the province’s approval of a proposed gas pipeline that would cut across critical habitat of threatened boreal woodland caribou.

Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) has filed for a judicial review of B.C. Oil and Gas Commission’s approval last month of a pipeline, proposed by Rockyview Resources Inc. and Shanghai Energy Corp., that would run through FNFN territory, resulting in 78 hectares of disturbance to caribou habitat.

The 39-kilometre proposed gas pipeline cuts right through core caribou habitat in our territory, in an area with the most concentrated and highest-known use by boreal caribou for forage, calving, rearing and protection from predators,” said Lana Lowe, FNFN land and resources director.

Monday, July 17, 2017 - 13:18 • Guest
BC Wildfires by MCpl Gabrielle DesRochers, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

By Ed Struzik for The Tyee.

While doing research for a book I was writing on wildfire, I posed two questions to a number of experts: “Do you think there will be another Fort McMurray-like fire in the future? If so, where do you think it will happen?”

Everyone agreed on the first question. Fort McMurray was not an anomaly. It will happen again, sooner rather than later, and likely with deadly consequences.

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