Compared to many other Senate confirmation hearings for potential Cabinet members, the hearing for U.S. Energy Secretary proved much faster and less rocky for nominee and...
Canada’s great, white north seems to be getting a little less white as the years go by thanks to above-average increases in Arctic temperatures and increasing levels of industrial development.
Still, the north remains great, and there’s nothing more emblematic of that greatness than the astounding 1,000-kilometre seasonal migration of the region’s barren-ground caribou herds.
Named for their habitat — sprawling Arctic tundra which extends beyond the northern tree line — barren-ground caribou have experienced alarming population declines for years, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and those declines are occurring alongside unprecedented levels of climate change and habitat disturbance.
Either support new pipelines or your community will be incinerated by an oil-carrying train.
It sounds outrageous, but it’s been a foundational argument made by the pro-pipeline lobby ever since the horrific Lac-Mégantic disaster in 2013.
“This is almost like putting a gun to the head of communities, saying ‘well, if we don’t build our pipeline then we’re going to put more oil-by-rail traffic through your community,’ ” says Patrick DeRochie, program manager of Environmental Defence’s climate and energy program.
On Dec. 20, 2016 — less than a month after the federal approvals of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly stated that “putting in a pipeline is a way of preventing oil by rail, which is more dangerous and more expensive.”
The fact that it’s an oft-repeated sentiment shouldn’t overshadow the fact that this is a completely false binary.
The longer we delay addressing environmental problems, the more difficult it will be to resolve them. Although we’ve known about climate change and its potential impacts for a long time, and we’re seeing those impacts worsen daily, our political representatives are still approving and promoting fossil fuel infrastructure as if we had all the time in the world to slow global warming.
We can’t say we weren’t warned.
It would have been the first 100 per cent community-owned renewable power project in North America.
Located just south of Swift Current, Sask., the $90-million project would have generated 35 megawatts (MW) of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels with electricity sold to the provincial utility, SaskPower.
But SaskPower had other plans for the region — specifically, a $700-million natural gas power station.
On Dec. 2, it was announced that the gas power station — which will emit one million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to putting 211,000 cars on the road for a year — wouldn’t require a federal environmental assessment.
Two days later, SaskWind, the provincial wind energy association and key promoter of the proposed Swift Current wind and solar project, shut down after four years of operation.
Two enforcement orders released by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office detail BC Hydro’s failure to comply with environmental protection rules during construction of the Site C dam.
The orders, issued to BC Hydro in late December and first reported by the Globe and Mail on Sunday, detail on-site inspections that found BC Hydro out of compliance with permit conditions related to the protection of drinking water and amphibian species.
One non-compliance order found BC Hydro failed to comply with two conditions outlined in Site C construction permits for the protection of amphibian species.
Condition 19 requires BC Hydro to “avoid and reduce injury and mortality to amphibians on roads adjacent to wetlands and other areas where amphibians are known to migrate across roads.”
A related condition, number 16, requires BC Hydro to conduct amphibian surveys at Portage Mountain to “identify specific mitigation structures and placement prior to road construction.”
However in late August, Alex McLean, a compliance inspector with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office found BC Hydro had constructed an access road at Portage Mountain without conducting amphibian surveys or installing amphibian mitigation structures.
The election of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named south of the border is leaving many Canadians with a case of the climate doldrums as 2016 winds to a close — but here’s the thing: 2016 was actually the most promising year Canada has had on climate action in more than a decade.
To be sure, us Canucks have had some not-awesome news on the climate and energy front lately, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the enormously polluting Pacific Northwest LNG terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C., Enbridge’s Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin and the hotly contested Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline to Vancouver.
Many had higher hopes of climate leadership from Trudeau and they’re not wrong to be disappointed. However, as this year comes to a close, it’s also worth looking back on some of the significant steps forward that were made in 2016 — victories that in many cases were unimaginable even two years ago.
Now 79, David Anderson has been fighting to prevent oil tankers on the coast of British Columbia since he was first elected 48 years ago. In the early 1970s, he was the architect of an inside passage tanker moratorium and a number of other restrictions on B.C. offshore drilling and tanker exports imposed by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau — which may or may not still exist. Anderson would go on to serve as federal Minister of Environment under Jean Chretien, after a stint in provincial politics, including as leader of the provincial Liberal party. Anderson left politics in 2006, but has remained a steadfast advocate for the coast he loves.
British Columbia’s environmental review process simply isn’t strong enough to protect Alaskan communities and rivers from the province’s mining boom, Jill Weitz, American campaigner with Salmon Beyond Borders, recently told a panel reviewing Canada’s environmental assessment process.
Weitz, who works to protect Alaska’s wild salmon runs, traveled to Prince Rupert to tell a trio of experts appointed by the federal government how a more robust federal environmental assessment process could help address transboundary concerns arising in the wake of B.C.’s major push for new mines.
The federally appointed panel is currently reviewing the environmental assessment process managed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency which is responsible for reviewing major development projects including pipelines, oil and gas development and mines. Changes made under the previous federal government excluded major mines in British Columbia from the federal environmental assessment process — a legislative change Weitz and others say left Alaska in an uncomfortable position.
The transboundary region traversing the border of northwest B.C. and southeast Alaska is home to three major salmon rivers, the Taku, Stikine and Unuk. The rivers flow into Alaska from an area in B.C. that is home to 10 new mines either proposed or already under construction.