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Rail Workers Acquitted in Trial on Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster

Aerial view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, after the oil train explosion and fires

The train engineer and two additional rail workers who faced charges for the deadly July 2013 oil train accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, were acquitted on Friday after the jury deliberated for nine days. If convicted of all charges, they potentially faced life in prison. 

The end of the trial of these three employees for their role in the Canadian oil train disaster that resulted in 47 deaths and the destruction of much of downtown Lac-Mégantic appears to have brought some closure to residents of the still-recovering town — although most are still waiting for justice.

As the trial began, the BBC reported the sentiments of Lac-Mégantic resident Jean Paradis, who lost three friends in the accident and thought the wrong people were on trial.

Decision on Private Prosecution Against Mount Polley Expected Any Day

 Premier John Horgan BC Mount Polley Mine Disaster DeSmog Canada

Premier John Horgan said this week he's anxiously awaiting a court decision on charges against Mount Polley mining corporation brought in a private prosecution by former Xat’sull chief Bev Sellars for violations of B.C.’s environmental laws — but B.C.'s role in that case is still unclear.

B.C.'s crown prosecution service is responsible for the final decision on whether and how B.C. will proceed with the case regarding the 2014 tailings pond collapse that released 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water.*

Sellars filed the case on August 4th, 2017 — the last day a case under provincial law could be brought against the company due to a three-year statute of limitations — as a means of holding open the legal door for government, which had only recently come under NDP power.

The courts are expected to make a decision on the fate of the private prosecution by the end of January.

First Nations File Civil Action Against Site C, Citing Treaty 8 Infringement

Site C Garth Lenz

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Tuesday claiming the Site C dam, along with two other hydroelectric projects on the Peace River, unjustifiably infringe on their constitutionally protected rights under Treaty 8.

The two nations, whose traditional territory will be flooded by the Site C reservoir, have also requested an injunction on Site C construction work be reviewed by the courts this spring.

The cumulative impact of the Bennett, Peace Canyon, and Site C Dams is to turn the Peace River into a series of reservoirs, destroying the unique cultural and ecological character of the Peace, severing the physical, practical, cultural and spiritual connection the Prophet have with the Peace, and infringing [West Moberly and Prophet’s] Treaty Rights,” the civil action states.

BP Wants to Drill Underwater Wells Twice the Depth of Deepwater Horizon in Canada

BP Wants to Drill Underwater Wells Twice the Depth of Deepwater Horizon in Canada

BP Canada plans to drill up to seven exploratory wells off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia that are at least 3.5 times the distance from land and up to twice the depth of the well beneath the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig.

The Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 after the Macondo well, located 5.6 kilometres below surface, blew out — resulting in the deaths of 11 men and the largest marine oil spill in history.

The company’s proposed solution if a catastrophic blowout happens in Canadian waters relies on shipping a capping device from Norway, a process that is estimated to take between 12 to 19 days — but it could take between 13 and 25 days total to actually cap the well with the device.

B.C. Quietly Releases Emissions Update That Shows It’ll Blow 2020 Climate Target

Premier John Horgan BC Emissions Inventory

Figures in a B.C. greenhouse gas inventory released quietly before Christmas show emissions have risen for four of the last five years.

Previously the province released a full public report on emissions, including inventory methodology, every two years but in December the government released a excel spreadsheet simply listing emissions figures for the second year in a row. The spreadsheet was published without any formal announcement or news release.

By law the province is required to reduce emissions 80 per cent from 2007 levels by 2050. In 2008 the province created a benchmark within that reduction, committing to get to 33 per cent reductions by 2020.

But the new figures show B.C. is not on course to meet that 2020 target. Instead emissions are only 2.1 per cent lower than the baseline year of 2007 and are on the rise.

B.C. Supreme Court Overturns Gas Pipeline Approval Because Regulator ‘Unreasonable’ in Dealings with First Nations

gas pipeline

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) was “unreasonable” and “intransigent” in its dealings with the Fort Nelson First Nation as the regulator considered and eventually approved a 39-kilometre natural gas pipeline in endangered boreal caribou habitat, according to the B.C. Supreme Court.

The natural gas pipeline, proposed by Calgary-based Rockyview Resources, would have run through Fort Nelson First Nation territory, resulting in 78 hectares of disturbance to caribou habitat. Fort Nelson First Nation is located in the Horn River Basin unconventional gas play, which makes it a fracking hot spot.

In a recent ruling, the court found the Oil and Gas Commission refused to discuss issues related to the pipeline and its impacts on the Maxhamish caribou range. Caribou are provincially and federally recognized as a species at risk and 84 per cent of boreal caribou habitat in B.C. falls within Fort Nelson First Nation territory.

B.C. Bans Grizzly Hunt for Trophies and Meat, But Indigenous Practices to Continue

Grizzly Hunt, Trophy Hunt Ban, DeSmog Canada, Garth Lenz

As Valerie Murray realized she was witnessing the end of grizzly bear hunting in B.C. she burst into tears.

After years of tirelessly campaigning to stop the trophy hunt, Murray, a founder of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies, could hardly believe that the provincial government was not only banning grizzly bear trophy hunting, but closing the loophole that would have allowed hunting for meat, provided perceived trophies such as the paws, head, hide and penis bone were not taken.

I just had to weep. People are almost afraid to believe it. Way-to-go for listening NDP. They knew they couldn’t monitor it, so they did the right thing,” Murray said.

Mining Company Loses 5-Year B.C. Lawsuit Meant to ‘Silence’ Critics

Taseko Mines Wilderness Committee SLAPP suit

The Wilderness Committee has won a landmark defamation case brought against it by Taseko Mines Ltd. but, despite the win, the non-profit environmental group will suffer financially after fighting the company in court for five years.

The case is being held up as a textbook example of why anti-SLAPP legislation is needed in B.C.

We are very proud to have stood our ground, but B.C. very much needs anti-SLAPP legislation. We were completely innocent and yet this company was able to keep us in the courts for five years — and their pockets are much deeper than ours,” said Wilderness Committee national campaigner Joe Foy.

B.C. Coughs Up Fracking Report Four Years Late and Only After It Was Leaked to Journalist

Fracking BC

Hundreds of gas wells could be leaking methane and potentially contaminating groundwater, according to a B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) report that has been kept secret from the public and politicians for four years.

That suppression of information is giving ammunition to calls for a full public inquiry into fracking operations in the province.

It is deeply troubling that B.C.’s energy regulator kept this report secret. Why did it not tell the public? Why, as the OGC now alleges, did it also not share the report with cabinet ministers who have responsibility for the energy industry?” Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told DeSmog Canada.

NDP Government’s Site C Math a Flunk, Say Project Financing Experts

Site C dam John Horgan Bad Math

The NDP government’s arithmetic on Site C cancellation costs is “deeply flawed,” has “no logic at all,” and is “appalling,” according to three project financing experts.  

Eoin Finn, a retired partner of KPMG, one of the world’s largest auditing firms, said Premier John Horgan’s claim that terminating Site C would result in an almost immediate 12 per cent hydro rate hike is the “worst rationale I’ve heard since ‘the dog ate my homework’” excuse.  

I expected better when the new government came in,” said Finn. “They’ve just continued what [former premier] Christy Clark did to hide the true costs of Site C and hope that they get re-elected before the next generation finds out.”

This is the stupidest capital decision ever made by a B.C. premier. I don’t know who is giving them accounting advice.”

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