Features

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 10:48 • Guest
Fish Lake near the proposed New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz
Fish Lake near the proposed New Prosperity Mine. Photo by Garth Lenz

By Gavin Smith, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law Association. This piece first appeared in the Vancouver Sun.

B.C.’s new government is already seeing proof that it made the right move when it committed to reform environmental assessment and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity mine proposal, back in the spotlight again for another round of litigation, is a poster child for the failings of B.C.’s environmental assessment regime — and the need for change.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government is currently seeking an injunction to prevent Taseko from digging test pits and conducting geotechnical drilling under provincial approvals granted in the last days of the outgoing government.

The proposed mine would be located within an area of Tsilhqot’in territory that includes Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized constitutionally protected Tsilhqot’in hunting and trapping rights in the area. The region is also near to, but outside, the lands in which the Court recognized Tsilhqot’in aboriginal title.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 22:14 • Sarah Cox
Site C dam construction
Site C dam construction

The decision to proceed with the Site C dam was “reckless and irresponsible” and continuing the project will result in a “series of devastating high electricity rate increases” that will lead to job losses and business failures, the former President and CEO of BC Hydro has told the B.C. Utilities Commission in a formal submission.

Marc Eliesen, who was at the helm of BC Hydro from 1992 to 1994, outlined why he believes the only financially responsible course of action is to cancel the $8.8 billion project and remediate the Peace River site in order to minimize Site C’s negative impact on BC Hydro customers and taxpayers.

Both the former government and BC Hydro’s Board abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to the rate payers and tax payers of this province,” Eliesen said in his 22-page submission to the BCUC, which is conducting a fast-tracked review of Site C’s finances and construction schedule.

There never was a business case for the start-up of construction of Site C, and there is not a business case to support its continuation or postponement.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 13:44 • James Wilt
John Ridsdale
John Ridsdale

Indigenous leaders from northern British Columbia are calling on the UN to investigate whether ongoing industrial development of Indigenous lands and waters constitutes a violation of UN conventions this week.

Canada is up for review by the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In a submission, tribes from B.C.’s northwest said Canada’s environmental assessment laws continue to measure money instead of impact.

One of the signatories is Deneza Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), a hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en. He travelled to the UN on the heels of the recent approval and then cancellation of Petronas’ plans to build a pipeline and the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Skeena River estuary.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 14:00 • James Wilt
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Premier Brian Pallister initially seemed very serious about confronting greenhouse gas emissions — a position that came as a surprise to many given the history of Canada’s conservative politicians sidestepping the tricky issue of climate change.

The party’s election platform pledged to “work with the federal government and other jurisdictions as we develop a made-in-Manitoba climate action plan.”

After winning a massive majority in April 2016, it hired Canadian climate policy legend and campaign manager David McLaughlin as senior adviser on the file.

An online survey was extended for an additional two weeks in March to allow for more public input.

These were all impressive things from a government led by Pallister, who had previously served as an MP in Stephen Harper’s notoriously anti-climate policy government.

But nearly 16 months later, the plan has never materialized.

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 15:13 • Emma Gilchrist
Grizzly bear trophy hunt
Grizzly bear trophy hunt

The B.C. government announced on Monday it will end grizzly bear trophy hunting throughout the province and stop all hunting of grizzles in the Great Bear Rainforest.

By bringing trophy hunting of grizzlies to an end, we’re delivering on our commitment to British Columbians,” Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said. “This action is supported by the vast majority of people across our province.”

A public opinion poll conducted by Insights West in February found strong opposition to trophy hunting across Canada (80 per cent), including 90 per cent of British Columbians.

The ban will take effect Nov. 30th — after this year’s hunt.

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 14:53 • Guest
Eclipse glasses
Eclipse glasses

By Bryan Gaensler

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that on Aug. 21, we’re in for a special cosmic treat: the Great American Eclipse of 2017.

The moon’s shadow will track a 4,000-kilometre course across the continental United States from coast to coast, beginning with Depoe Bay, Ore., and end after 93 minutes in McClellanville, S.C.. As a result, tens of millions of Americans will be treated to that rarest of natural wonders: a total eclipse of the sun.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 07:00 • Guest
Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation

By  Christopher Cheung for The Tyee.

The construction industry has a big role to play as Canada aims to meet to its commitment to the Paris climate agreement and transition to a greener economy, according to a new report.

We need that construction workforce to get us to net zero,” said Bob Blakely, the COO of Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), an alliance of 14 unions.

There hasn’t been much Canadian research on the construction industry’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so the CBTU commissioned a study by think tank the Columbia Institute to investigate potential job growth as Canada moves towards a low-carbon economy.

According to the study, Jobs for Tomorrow – Canada’s Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions, a low-carbon economy could create almost four million direct building trades jobs by 2050 — and that’s a conservative estimate. These jobs include boilermakers, electrical workers, insulators, ironworkers and masons.

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 09:56 • Sarah Cox
Ken and Arlene Boon
Ken and Arlene Boon

BC Hydro spent more than $20 million quietly buying up Peace Valley property for the Site C hydro dam in the four years before the project was approved, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

The cost of the land purchases has never been publicly disclosed by BC Hydro, and only came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Even then, it took more than four months after the request was filed for BC Hydro to release the figures, and the information was only provided following an appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) after BC Hydro said it was extending the legal deadline for response. The OIPC found that BC Hydro “did not provide sufficient evidence” to justify a time extension.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 17:39 • James Wilt
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain protest
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain protest

The new B.C. NDP government has officially taken its first major step in attempting to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

On Thursday morning, it announced it will seek intervener status in upcoming legal challenges to the federal approval of the pipeline.

The announcement helps to fulfill what was pledged in the now-famous NDP-Green “confidence and supply agreement” to “immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

Perhaps the most significant part of the announcement was who the B.C. government hired as external legal counsel for the process: Thomas Berger, one of the most renowned lawyers in Canadian history, especially in the realm of Indigenous and environmental rights.

Here’s a quick explainer about who Berger is, and what message this hiring sends.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 13:42 • Matt Jacques
Faro Mine
Faro Mine

The Yukon's giant Faro Mine was once the world’s largest open-pit lead and zinc mine.

In operation from 1969 to 1998, when its last owner declared bankruptcy, the mine once generated more than 30 per cent of the Yukon's economic activity.

Now, Faro Mine is considered the second-worst contaminated site in Canada.

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