Friday, November 17, 2017 - 14:55 • James Wilt

There’s no telling if the 220 square-kilometres of unlined tailings ponds in the Alberta oilsands are leaking contaminated waste into nearby water sources, according to the government of Canada.

That claim was made in an official response to NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation despite strong scientific evidence suggesting a clear linkage between the oilsands’ 1.3 trillion litres of fluid tailings and the contamination of local waterways.

The response comes after a June 2017 submission by two environmental organizations and a Dene man alleging the federal government was failing to enforce a section of the Fisheries Act that prohibits the release of a “deleterious substance” into fish-frequented waters.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 13:02 • Jimmy Thomson
Wuikinuxv Elder George Johnson

The rain comes down in a dense mist as John Ebell shows off the construction site of the Nicknaqueet River Hydro project, high on a hillside above the Wannock River in Rivers Inlet, a fjord on the central coast of B.C.

It’s the perfect weather, he says, to illustrate why a small-scale hydroelectric project is so perfect for the area.

There’s a lot of rainfall here, and there’s a lot of mountains,” Ebell, project manager with the Barkley Project Group, told DeSmog Canada. “So we have drop, and we have rainfall. That’s a perfect combination for hydropower.”

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 14:26 • Carol Linnitt
Premier John Horgan Rio Tinto Alcan Smelter

In October, B.C. Premier John Horgan made a visit to the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter on the banks of the Douglas Channel in Kitimat.

He praised the facility for being “a great example of how companies can improve conditions for workers and reduce pollution all while improving their bottom line.”

What he didn’t mention was the ongoing battle at Rio Tinto Alcan over a provincial permit that allowed the company to increase sulphur dioxide pollution by more than 50 per cent, or the union representing 800 workers at the smelter that appealed that permit, saying the increase in pollution was a direct threat to their health.

Exposure to sulphur dioxide aggravates the respiratory systems of asthmatics and is known to negatively affect the respiratory systems of children and the elderly.

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:30 • Judith Lavoie
Premier John Horgan AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Facility

A full public inquiry, with powers to call witnesses and gather research, is needed to investigate natural gas fracking operations in B.C., says a coalition of 17 community, First Nations and environmental organizations.

The group, which includes the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, David Suzuki Foundation, Public Health Association of B.C. and West Coast Environmental Law, is appealing to the NDP government to call a public inquiry — instead of the scientific review promised during the election campaign — because of mounting evidence of problems caused by fracking.

We believe that the NDP’s campaign promise to appoint a scientific panel to review fracking won’t be enough to fully address the true risks of deploying this brute force technology throughout northeast B.C.,” said Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, one of the organizations asking for an inquiry.

Friday, November 3, 2017 - 15:34 • Carol Linnitt
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain may be in violation of a condition laid out by the National Energy Board, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, after ordering nearly 300,000 tonnes of pipeline for the expansion project without submitting a quality management plan.

According to regulatory documents filed by the National Energy Board in September, Trans Mountain was required to file a quality management plan “at least four months prior to manufacturing any pipe and major components for the project.”

The quality management plan requires Trans Mountain to supply documentation regarding the qualifications of pipeline contractors, vendors and suppliers, quality auditing of manufactured pipe and the preservation of pipe during shipping and storage.

Yet in documents submitted to the NEB, Trans Mountain confirmed pipeline manufacturing contracts were awarded between May and July of 2017 and manufacturing of the pipeline began in October with no plan in place.

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 17:51 • Judith Lavoie
Jumbo Glacier Resort

A ground-breaking Supreme Court of Canada decision on Charter protection of religious beliefs that depend on sacred areas is likely to reverberate through future legal cases and will test Canada’s support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Ktunaxa Nation appealed a 2012 decision by the B.C. government to approve a plan by Glacier Resorts Ltd. to build Jumbo Glacier Resort, a 6,250-bed ski resort, on Crown land in the Purcell Mountains, about 55 kilometres west of Invermere.

The land, known as Qat’muk to the Ktunaxa, Nation, is believed to be the home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit, the Ktunaxa spiritual source of guidance, strength and protection, and has been at the heart of a 26-year fight to stop the proposed development.

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 13:11 • Sarah Cox
District of Hudson's Hope Solar Array

Solar-powered curling, anyone? Or what about solar-powered sewage treatment?

Hudson’s Hope, the municipality that would be most affected by the Site C dam, is going solar with a blast.

It’s starting to look like a real, honest to goodness twenty-first century solar community,” said Don Pettit of the Peace Energy Renewable Energy Cooperative, the business that recently installed 1,580 photovoltaic panels, giving Hudson’s Hope the largest municipal solar array in the province.

The panels — in more than a half-dozen locations, including on the rooftops of the public works shop, municipal building, curling rink, arena, and beside sewage treatment lagoons — will save an estimated $70,000 a year in hydro bills, according to Hudson’s Hope mayor Gwen Johansson.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 14:01 • Emma Gilchrist ...
Site C construction September 2016

A highly anticipated review of B.C.’s Site C dam has found the project is likely to be over budget and behind schedule and alternative energy sources could be built for an equal or lower unit energy cost.

The report from the B.C. Utilities Commission released Wednesday confirmed many of the concerns that have been raised about the project for years.

The panel found BC Hydro’s mid-load forecast for electricity demand in B.C. “excessively optimistic” and noted there are risks that could result in demand being less than even BC Hydro’s lowest demand scenario.

The panel was “not persuaded that the Site C project will remain on schedule” and found “the project is not within the proposed budget of $8.335 billion.”

Currently, completion costs may be in excess of $10 billion, the report read.

The panel concluded it would be too costly to suspend the dam and potentially re-start construction later and focused its efforts on laying out in detail the consequences of either abandoning or completing the dam. The decision now rests with the B.C. government.

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