Features

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 08:00 • Judith Lavoie
Grizzly Bear A.S. Wright
Grizzly Bear A.S. Wright

The lives of salmon and bears in B.C. are inextricably linked and new research by scientists at Raincoast Conservation and the University of Victoria underlines the importance of conservation managers looking at entire ecosystems in order to keep both species healthy.

The wide-ranging study of the amount of salmon eaten by bears in different areas was conducted by a group led by Megan Adams, Hakai-Raincoast scholar and PhD candidate at UVic and was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Ecosphere.

Researchers looked at more than 1,400 hair samples from 886 grizzly and black bears, which ranged over almost 700,000 square kilometres of B.C. from 1995 to 2014.

The huge database has produced a pattern showing salmon hotspots and demonstrating how the health of bears improves and population density increases when there is an abundance of salmon and declines when salmon runs fail — illustrated by bear deaths on the Central Coast when sockeye runs crashed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 10:06 • Carol Linnitt
Geothermal Energy
Geothermal Energy

While news of Saskatchewan’s plan for a small geothermal power plant was met with excitement by renewable energy advocates,  experts say British Columbia is far better situated to capitalize on the technology yet has failed to do so.

It should be a little bit of a shock that a less good resource is being developed in Saskatchewan over a world-class resource in B.C.,” said Alison Thompson, chair and co-founder of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA).

B.C. is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a geothermal hot zone. Maps produced by CanGEA found B.C. has enough geothermal potential to power the entire province.

There are geothermal projects all up the coast but they stop at the border. There’s nothing in B.C.,” Thompson said.

This is clearly not technical, not economic. This is policy driven.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 12:54 • Emma Gilchrist
Site C dam construction | Garth Lenz
Site C dam construction | Garth Lenz

Almost exactly a year ago, B.C. Hydro touted “broad support” for its controversial Site C dam — a mega hydro dam on the Peace River that would flood 107 kilometres of river valley, forcing farmers and First Nations off their land.

Now, as besieged Premier Christy Clark puts all her spin doctoring powers to work to attempt to save the dam from being canned, new polling from Angus Reid shows that more British Columbians want to review or cancel the project than want to let the project go ahead.

Those numbers are pretty remarkable when you consider that Site C is already almost two years into construction and BC Hydro has put considerable resources into quieting critical media coverage of the project. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 11:16 • James Wilt
passive house, energy efficiency
passive house, energy efficiency

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long been criticized for lowballing the potential for renewable power and overestimating future demand for oil and gas.

Such forecasts matter. After all, the Paris-based organization is made up of 29 OECD countries — including Canada and the United States — and regularly produces publications that help member countries plan and coordinate energy policies.

That’s why it was particularly shocking when the IEA concluded in its latest Energy Technology Perspectives report that almost 75 per cent of the emissions reductions needed for its “2°C Scenario” will come from energy efficiency and renewables.

The real superstar of the report was energy efficiency, which the authors estimated would account for 34 per cent of reductions, resulting in global net-zero emissions by 2060.

It’s not the sexiest thing,” Pembina Institute analyst Julia-Maria Becker said in an interview. “People aren't aware of its benefits.”

Triple-paned windows and improved insulations isn’t quite as riveting as, say, a wind farm or geothermal plant.

Monday, June 19, 2017 - 14:01 • Guest
christy clark bc election
christy clark bc election

By Matt Price for iPolitics.

Don’t think for a second that it’s Christy Clark’s nature to go quietly into the night. In response, the B.C. NDP and Greens may have no choice other than to forge a pact to work together in a snap election.

During the press conference in which Christy Clark responded to the agreement between the BC NDP and Greens to cooperate in a minority government, TV cameras caught a glimpse of her speaking notes. The biggest word written on the page was “humble”; apparently she was reminding herself to dial down her signature scrappiness and appear gracious.

Clark also went on to say she would not resign, but would respect the process by a drafting a throne speech and holding a confidence vote — and not right away, either, but a few leisurely weeks later. Then, she named a cabinet that included rumoured candidates for the Speaker’s job, thereby taking them out of contention. With a one-vote difference between Clark’s Liberals and the ‘GreeNDP’ alliance, the question of who will put up the traditionally neutral Speaker has emerged as a key one.

Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 09:14 • Christopher Pollon
Compressor station
Compressor station

A race to expand B.C. natural gas pipelines and infrastructure is on, signalling two possible outcomes: the death of our homegrown liquefied natural gas (LNG) export dream, and the dawn of the most ironic resource boom in provincial history.

Consider that B.C. natural gas is finally going to be exported overseas by LNG tanker — not from Pacific tidewater, but through Cheniere's new Sabine River LNG export terminal on the Gulf coast near Louisiana. In February 2017, Bloomberg reported Cheniere had entered into a supply deal that would see gas from the Montney shale formation [which straddles B.C. and Alberta] shipped from the facility.

This is a great potential outlet [for Canada],” Madeline Jowdy, Pira Energy Group’s Senior Director of Global Gas and LNG, told Bloomberg of the Cheniere LNG deal. She added that B.C. LNG projects “look like they are going to be a long time coming, if ever, in my opinion.”

Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 17:24 • Carol Linnitt
Canada right to a healthy environment
Canada right to a healthy environment

When it comes to developed nations Canada is a laggard on the environmental rights front. Legally speaking, Canadians don’t enjoy the right to a healthy environment like the citizens of 93 per cent of UN member countries do.

But that could all change in light of a new set of recommendations delivered to Ottawa by a standing committee tasked with reviewing the federal Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Among those recommendations were instituting legal minimums for air and water quality standards, annual reporting on the state of Canada’s environment, new rules around disclosure of toxic substances in consumer goods and the creation of special protections for Canada’s vulnerable populations including children, the elderly, First Nations and poor communities most likely to be affected by poor environmental health.

We’re celebrating this as a first step,” Kaitlyn Mitchell, Ecojustice lawyer, told DeSmog Canada.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 10:16 • Emma Gilchrist
Chief Roland Willson
Chief Roland Willson

Roland Willson is a practical man. As chief of the West Moberly First Nation in northeastern B.C., he’s got to be.

The natural gas industry is the main source of employment,” Willson said over coffee in Victoria this week, before heading into meetings with the B.C. NDP and B.C. Green parties. “It’s a natural resource economy up there.”

Of all the industrial activity happening on his traditional territory — ranging from fracking to forestry to coal mining — one development takes the cake: the Site C dam.

With B.C.’s new NDP-Green alliance, and its promise to send the $9 billion Site C for an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), there’s reason for Willson to be hopeful.

We are hopeful that this stupid project is going to get stopped. They’ve done nothing that can’t be undone so far. The trees will grow back. The animals will come back,” Willson. “I'm pretty confident that if it goes to the BCUC, it'll be deemed non-viable.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 16:33 • James Wilt
Oilsands tailings
Oilsands tailings

Alberta is a province renown for its political dynasties.

Since its founding in 1905, only five parties have ruled, with the Progressive Conservatives reigning for a staggering 44 years between 1971 and 2015.

But when it comes to oilsands policy, the province’s compass has been set by two premiers: Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein. Both took distinct approaches, with Lougheed emphasizing managed development assisted by public funding, while Klein allowed industry to largely set the terms of engagement (including far lower royalties and the fast tracking of environmental reviews).

It might seem like ancient history. But it arguably matters more than ever given the complex politics of the current Alberta NDP government, which is juggling a cap on oilsands emissions while also advocating for increased production.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 09:55 • Emma Gilchrist
Justin Trudeau kayak
Justin Trudeau kayak

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to capture international headlines for a kayak outing on the Niagara River in Ontario.

How, you may ask? Well Trudeau paddled up to a family’s dock and had a brief conversation with them about water levels. According to Elle Magazine, he looked “picture perfect” while doing it. It all very quickly became a Twitter sensation.

Trudeau’s photogenic boat trip coincided with World Environment Day and in a speech afterward, the prime minister vowed to continue to fight climate change.

The American press, still bewildered by their president’s widely criticized decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, went wild.

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