This is a guest post by Karin Kirk, crossposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections...
Hundreds of placer mines, which have never undergone environmental assessments, are operating in the Fraser River watershed with minimal government oversight despite mounting evidence that the operations pollute water and harm salmon, a report by the Fair Mining Collaborative has found.
Placer mining involves digging up gravel adjacent to streams and rivers and washing it to extract the gold or other minerals in the sediment. In addition to mines that use excavation equipment, there are thousands of hand-mining operations, many of which do not have permits, the report found.
The report, commissioned by First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM), calls for a moratorium on claim staking and work permits until the process is reformed and adequate safeguards are put in place, with First Nations given a partnership role in coming up with rules and regulations.
“I go around our territory and see all the destruction in the back country. It’s criminal if you ask me,” Bev Sellars, FNWARM chair and former chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation, said in an interview.
By Barry Robinson, Ecojustice.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is Alberta’s one-stop regulatory body for the oil and gas industry. When it was created in 2013 by the merging of the former Energy Resources Conservation Board and parts of Alberta Environment and Parks, the AER made bold claims about transparency, enforcement and becoming a “world-class” regulator.
Unfortunately, the AER has failed to live up to its promises. The AER has shown over and over again that it is either unable or unwilling to enforce its own laws, directives and orders. The AER has become a toothless regulator.
As a public interest lawyer I see first-hand how the AER’s failures affect Albertans.
Alaskans tired of living under the threat of B.C.’s poorly regulated mines are taking the matter to the state’s House Fisheries Committee in an effort to escalate an international response to ongoing issues such as the slow leakage of acidic waste from the deserted Tulsequah Chief Mine in northwest B.C. into the watershed of one of the richest salmon runs in the B.C./Alaska transboundary region.
On Thursday the committee will assess a resolution sponsored by several House Representatives “urging the United States government to continue to work with the government of Canada to investigate the long-term, region-wide downstream effects of proposed and existing industrial development and to develop measures to ensure that state resources are not harmed by upstream development in B.C.”
Although Tulsequah is a catalyst, concerns go deeper as B.C. is handing out permits for a clutch of proposed new mines close to the Alaskan border, including the KSM mine, the largest open-pit gold and copper mine in North America.
Five B.C. Liberal candidates running in the current election are also former lobbyists who advocated for corporations including Chevron, Pacific Northwest LNG and ExxonMobil in the offices of Premier Christy Clark and other top ministers, according to records contained in the B.C. Lobbyist Registry.
“I am alarmed at the number of lobbyists who are running in this election,” Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC, told DeSmog Canada.
“It may in fact point to a worrisome trend.”
“It’s not a generally considered a stepping stone in politics to go from being a lobbyist to an elected official. Where B.C. risks not electing a government but electing a boardroom of interests — whether corporate or union, it doesn’t matter,” Travis said. “In this instance it's obviously corporate.”
Want to modernize Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB)?
Bring the regulatory agency — first founded way back in 1959 when the realities of climate change weren’t readily known — into alignment with our carbon-constrained present.
That recommendation, coming from the Pembina Institute, comes in a report released Friday to coincide with the end of a federal review of the National Energy Board that brought an expert panel into halls and meeting rooms of 10 cities across the nation.
In the report, “Good Governance in the Era of Low Carbon,” the Pembina Institute states the review is an important opportunity to not only bring the mandate of the NEB into the 21st century, but also to restore public trust in what many see as a broken process.
The National Energy Board has been called a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest,” by Marc Eliesen, former head of BC Hydro and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba.
The solar industry was responsible for creating one out of every 50 new jobs in the U.S. last year and the country’s fastest-growing occupation is wind turbine technician — so no matter one’s feelings on climate change, the renewable energy train has left the station, according to a new report.
“It’s at the point of great return. It’s irreversible. There is no stopping this train,” said Merran Smith, author of Tracking the Energy Revolution 2017 by Clean Energy Canada. “Even Donald Trump can’t kill it.”
More than 260,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry, more than double 2010 figures. Meantime, the top five wind-energy producing congressional districts are represented by Republicans.
Across Canada’s north, diesel has long been the primary mode of providing year-round electricity to remote communities — but with the advent of small-scale renewables, that’s about to change.
Northern communities were already making strides toward a renewable energy future, but with $400 million committed in this year’s federal budget to establish an 11-year Arctic Energy Fund, energy security in the north has moved firmly into the spotlight.
“This level of support shows positive commitment from the Canadian government on ending fossil fuel dependency in Indigenous communities and transitioning these communities to clean energy systems,” said Dave Lovekin, a senior advisor at the Pembina Institute.
The B.C. government is subsidizing the LNG industry to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars — and British Columbians are going to pay the price, according to a new report by Sierra Club B.C.
The report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money, lays out the impact of tax breaks, subsidies and reduced electricity rates negotiated by industry.
“Power subsidies to even just two or three of the proposed LNG plants could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year,” reads a press release accompanying the report.
Two LNG export terminals have been approved in B.C. — Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert and the Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound near Squamish. Another 18 are proposed.
Both companies have been major donors to the B.C. Liberal party, which has ruled the province for 16 years and faces an election on May 9.
Malaysian-owned Pacific Northwest LNG donated more than $18,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 2014, while Indonesian-based Woodfibre has found itself in the midst of a growing scandal over illegal donations.