In-Depth

Why A Canadian Mining Company Is Suing Romania for $4.4 Billion

Geamana village Romania

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is suing Romania for $4.4 billion through a secretive tribunal after the country denied permits for the largest open-pit gold and silver mine in Europe — a project Canadian officials advocated for, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

Since 1997, the Canadian mining company (fun fact: it was founded by a man convicted twice of heroin possession), has pressured Romania to allow the construction of the proposed mine in northwest Romania.

The mine would destroy three villages, level four mountains and displace 2,000 people.

Tens of thousands of people marched against the Roșia Montană project in 2013 — the same year the Romanian parliament rejected permits for the mine’s construction. Since then, Romania has applied for the site to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Will Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Oilsands Pipeline Become the Standing Rock of the North?

Oceti Sakowin Camp Standing Rock

The battle against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline could lead to the next Standing Rock and destroy any investment case for the project, according to a newly released report.

The report, commissioned by the Secwepemc nation and prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, is titled “Standing Rock of the North: The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Secwepemc Risk Assessment.”

Over the course of 35 pages, it articulates seven ways that Kinder Morgan Canada has failed “to account for the lack of political, legal, and proprietary certainty surrounding the pipeline.”

Five Things We Learned from the Damning Report on the University of Calgary’s Connections with Enbridge

University of Calgary Enbridge

Senior administrators at the University of Calgary suppressed academic freedom and failed to address glaring conflicts of interest while attempting to establish an Enbridge-funded research centre, according to a report commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) that was released Wednesday.

The report — co-authored by Alison Hearn of the University of Western Ontario and Gus Van Harten of York University — is the result of almost two years of investigation, and starkly contradicts the findings of the university’s own internal review of the situation.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is a nationwide federation of associations representing 70,000 post-secondary workers.

Academic staff and professors involved at the centre reached out to senior administrators and said ‘we’re concerned about Enbridge’s influence over the centre, we don’t think we should be a PR firm for Enbridge,’” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

Four’s Company: Where NDP Leadership Candidates Stand on Energy and Climate Policy

NDP leadership debate

It feels like an eternity since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair received the boot from delegates at the party convention in April 2016.

The lengthy leadership race hasn’t exactly helped that feeling.

Most candidates launched their campaigns in February. Nine debates were held between March and September. But we’re almost at the end of the tunnel. Voting for the first ballot, via both mail-in ballots and online, commenced on Sept. 18 and concludes on Oct. 1. If needed, second and third ballots will be collected by Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.

While there are only four candidates left in the race — Guy Caron, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton — there are an enormous number of combined proposals related to energy, climate and environmental policies (especially compared to what was discussed during the federal Conservative leadership race).

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer from the NDP candidates.

Norway’s Oil Savings Just Hit $1 Trillion. Alberta Has $17 Billion. What Gives?

Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund just hit a grand total of US $1 trillion dollars.

Just in case you’re wondering, 12 zeroes looks like this: $1,000,000,000,000

The number is 2.5 times Norway’s annual GDP and serves as the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. It has also somewhat predictably triggered a new round of consternation among Albertans, mourning the state of their own fund currently worth a measly $17.2 billion.

But Andrew Leach, associate professor at the University of Alberta’s business school and chair of the province’s completed Climate Change Advisory Panel, said it’s important to read past the headlines when it comes to the Norway vs. Alberta comparison.

New Government and B.C.’s Natural Gas: What Changes are Coming Down the Pipe?

Natural Gas LNG BC NDP Government

For years, Nexen's Aurora project envisioned transforming Digby island near Prince Rupert into a sprawling $20 billion LNG plant shipping 24 million tonnes of liquified B.C. natural gas to Asia. 

On September 14, Aurora officially backed out, reinforcing the words written in this year’s NDP election platform.  “[Ex-premier Christy Clark] bet everything on natural gas prices and left the rest of B.C.’s economy without support,” it reads. 
“Resource communities and families have paid the price. That’s got to change.”

But change to what?  With the rise of B.C.’s new NDP government, forged with the support of the B.C. Greens under climate scientist Andrew Weaver, there is now an opportunity to reset and find more realistic ways to tap the wealth of natural gas in the Peace region. 

The idea that there is going to be a big mega project like Petronas [Pacific NorthWest LNG] was nothing but a pipe dream,” says Andrew Weaver.  “The real question is, what are we going to do with the resource?”

How Syncrude and Friends Benefitted from ‘Creative Sentence’ in 2010 Oilsands Duck Deaths

Syncrude dead ducks, Photo: Todd Powell Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

The lethal mix of migratory birds and oilsands tailings ponds are in the news again this month.

On September 20 we learned another 123 birds died or will be euthanized after landing on a Suncor tailings pond. And on September 27, Syncrude Canada will appear in court for failing to prevent the deaths of blue herons at an Alberta oilsands site, the very same crime the company was convicted of in 2010 after an estimated 1,600 ducks met the same fate on one of its tailings pond.

Convictions like Syncrude’s are supposed to help to prevent the deaths of waterfowl on oilsands sites. So why are we here again?

What Canada Needs to Do Now (But Isn’t) to Prevent the Worst Impacts of Climate Change

A smokejumper makes a practice dive. Photo: August Gregg

With devastating hurricanes hitting the Caribbean islands and southern United States, massive wildfires displacing thousands in northern Manitoba and British Columbia and catastrophic flooding in India and Bangladesh killing more than 1,200 people, many Canadians are understandably anxious about what’s to come.

Climate scientists have long warned that the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme weather events will be greatly exacerbated in coming years and decades.

Yet Canada, which warmed at about twice the global average between 1948 and 2007, is still almost entirely unprepared for the impacts of those events, according to experts.

B.C.’s Last Climate 'Leadership' Plan Was Written in Big Oil’s Boardroom (Literally)

Christy Clark's Climate Leadership Plan included secret industry consultations

By Shannon Daub & Zoë Yunker.

Newly uncovered documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests reveal the cozy relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the last B.C. government went even further than suspected — all the way to inviting industry to directly craft the province’s climate “leadership” plan.

Let’s rewind for a second: back in the spring of 2015, then-premier Christy Clark announced the provincial government would create a new climate plan.

A 17-member climate leadership team was appointed and tasked with developing recommendations to meet B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. The government released the team’s recommendations in the fall of 2015 — allowing then-Premier Christy Clark head off to Paris for the December 2015 UN climate talks cloaked in the mantle of climate “leadership,” after four years of near-total inaction by her government.

That’s where things got interesting.

Site C to Test B.C. NDP’s Commitment to Indigenous Rights

John Horgan UNDRIP Site C

By Zoë Ducklow for The Tyee.

Recent experiences with the federal government have left Prophet River First Nation member Helen Knott wary of government promises.

So while she and other Indigenous people are excited about NDP provincial government commitments to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, words are not enough. And the Site C dam in northeastern B.C., they say, will be the government’s first test of its commitment.

The vocalization that they’ll adhere to UNDRIP is a start, but it’s about actions,” Knott says. “And Site C is the place to start with it, because it’s the issue that’s out front and in everybody’s faces.”

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