Monday, January 22, 2018 - 13:29 • Guest
David Seibold Sockeye Salmon Contamination Illustration

Amid continued controversy, Kinder Morgan is poised to break ground on its $7.4 billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project. When the pipeline is complete, it will triple the volume of diluted bitumen, or Dilbit, that reaches Canada’s Pacific shoreline to 890,000 barrels per day.

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 10:52 • James Wilt
Oil Lobbyists CAPP Offshore Drilling DeSmog Canada

Sharks, sea turtles, corals, wolffish — the 1,200 kilometre Laurentian Channel off the southwest coast of Newfoundland is home to tremendous biodiversity.

And that’s the reason it’s set to become Canada’s newest Marine Protected Area, a designation designed to conserve and protect vulnerable species and ecosystems.

There’s just one catch: draft regulations for the proposed 11,619 square-kilometre protected area allow oil and gas exploration and drilling for much of the year. In addition, the government has reduced the size of the protected area by more than one-third from what was originally planned.

Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 08:25 • James Wilt
Moose Lake

Nobody could ever accuse Chief Jim Boucher of being anti-oilsands.

First elected to lead Fort McKay First Nation in northeast Alberta more than three decades ago, Boucher has made a name for his cooperative relationship with industry, which includes launching a sizable oilsands service conglomerate, denouncing environmentalists and purchasing a 34 per cent stake in a $1 billion Suncor bitumen storage terminal.

But now, a proposed 10,000 barrel per day oilsands project is threatening to infringe on a nearby sacred region called Moose Lake that serves as the First Nation’s “key cultural heartland” and is shared with the local Métis community for traditional activities. And Boucher is speaking out against the project — specifically targeting the provincial NDP for failing to finalize a management plan that would restrict development in the area prior to the regulatory hearings.

This government does not want to do an agreement with Fort McKay,” said Boucher in an interview with DeSmog Canada, during a break in the Alberta Energy Regulator hearings. “We’ve had discussions with them. As a result of these discussions, we have gone nowhere in terms of trying to resolve our issues with respect to the integrity of Moose Lake.”

Friday, January 19, 2018 - 11:47 • Sarah Cox
Chief Roland Willson

Can the Site C dam still be stopped?

It all boils down to one B.C. Supreme Court judge who will decide whether or not to grant First Nations an injunction against the project this spring, according to legal scholars who are keenly watching a new legal case against the $10.7 billion dam.

This week West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation filed notices of civil action claiming that the Site C dam — along with two existing dams on the Peace River — infringes on rights guaranteed to them in Treaty 8, which promised they could continue their traditional way of life.

The nations requested the court declare approvals for Site C issued by the B.C. and federal governments “unconstitutional,” and asked for an injunction to halt work on a project that will destroy traditional hunting, trapping and fishing grounds, as well as areas rich in berries, herbs and medicines.

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 18:15 • Emma Gilchrist
Professional Reliance DeSmog Canada

If you look closely at almost any major environmental controversy in B.C. in the past decade, you’ll find one common denominator: industry-paid “professionals” were trusted with our province’s environmental protection.

This, folks, is what is often called leaving the fox to watch the hen house. But, if you’re the B.C. government, you come up with one of the greatest euphemisms of our age for it: “professional reliance.”

This system, implemented under the BC Liberals in the early 2000s, means “professionals” hired and paid for by mining, logging, natural gas and other industries, have been trusted with B.C.’s environmental protection.

Most people would call that a conflict of interest. But in B.C. this is called business as usual.

Until now … maybe.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 13:41 • Carol Linnitt
 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.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 13:21 • Jimmy Thomson
Canada's Marine Protected Areas DeSmog Canada

Canada has made significant progress in the last year toward meeting its international commitment to protect 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020 — at least on paper. 

The government now claims to have set aside 7.75 per cent of Canada’s oceans for protection, up from under one per cent in 2016.

But a closer look at the numbers that make up the total shows that, far from establishing sprawling new protected areas, new accounting is responsible for much of the growth — and whether all of the areas will ultimately be eligible to count toward Canada’s international target is still up in the air.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 09:04 • Carol Linnitt
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.

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