Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 14:59 • Carol Linnitt

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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 17:06 • Emma Gilchrist
Justin Trudeau live interview with Vancouver Sun
Justin Trudeau live interview with Vancouver Sun

In a Facebook Live interview with the Vancouver Sun this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trotted out a favourite talking point of the oil industry.

 “Where we have to recognize that we’re not going to find common ground is in the people who say the only thing we can do to save the planet is to shut down the oilsands tomorrow and stop using fossil fuels altogether within a week,” Trudeau said.

There are a few things wrong with this statement.

1) Who’s campaigning to shut down the oilsands tomorrow? I’ve been writing about energy and environment for nearly 10 years and I can’t name a single credible group that’s ever campaigned to shut down the oilsands. Heck, I can’t even think of one that’s campaigning to decrease production. They almost all campaign to limit expansion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 16:21 • Steve Horn
Tar sands Mildred Lake plant
Tar sands Mildred Lake plant

At a speech given to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he intends to work with President-elect Donald Trump to approve the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. 

The speech comes as Trump revealed in a recent interview with Fox News that one of the first things he intends to do in office is grant permits for both Keystone XL and the perhaps equally controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Because Keystone XL North crosses the U.S.-Canada border, current processes require it to obtain a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of State, which the Obama administration has denied.

The next State Department, however, could be led by the recently retired CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, who was just nominated to be U.S. Secretary of State and soon will face a Senate hearing and vote. Potentially complicating this situation is the fact that Exxon holds substantial interest in both tar sands projects and companies, which stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline bringing this carbon-intensive crude oil across the border.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 03:58 • Justin Mikulka
Lac-Megantic's downtown before the oil train disaster.
Lac-Megantic's downtown before the oil train disaster.

Brian Stevens first learned about the Lac-Megantic disaster — in which an unattended oil train caught fire and exploded, killing 47 people in the Quebec town — when he saw the news reports on TV.

Stevens is currently National Rail Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, but he previously spent 16 years as an air-brake mechanic working on trains. At a recent conference in Ottawa examining lessons from the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, he recounted his reaction to seeing those initial scenes of destruction.  

That ain’t Canada, that can’t happen in North America because our brake systems won’t allow that,” he said when he eventually learned the images he was seeing were from Canada. “My heart sank … It was crushing.”  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 00:00 • Kyla Mandel
Statoil's oil sands operations
Statoil's oil sands operations

Norwegian oil major Statoil will be pulling out of its Canadian oilsands project after nearly a decade with an expected loss of at least USD$500 million.

In yet another sign that Canada’s oilsands – one of the most polluting fossil fuel projects on the planet – is becoming increasingly costly, Lars Christian Bacher, Statoil’s executive vice-president for international development and production, said in a statement: “This transaction corresponds with Statoil’s strategy of portfolio optimisation to enhance financial flexibility and focus capital on core activities globally.”

The 14 December announcement comes just weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in a move to facilitate growth in the oilsands and create jobs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 13:13 • Carol Linnitt

It describes a framework but could just as easily be read as a request: open science.

And it’s something top of mind for Canadian scientists right now as the federal government is considering changes to the very way science is used to make major decisions about things like pipelines, oil and gas development and mines.

The ongoing federal review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is a huge opportunity to restore scientific integrity to decision-making, scientist Aerin Jacob told DeSmog Canada.

I really can’t underscore how big an opportunity this is,” Jacob, Liber Ero postdoctoral scholar at the University of Victoria, said, adding Canada could transform the very way science feeds into the environmental assessment and decision-making process.

One of the challenges being a scientist in wanting to evaluate government’s decisions is that we can’t see the evidence. We can’t see how decisions are being made.”

Tweet: “It’s like a black box of decision-making. That’s not scientifically rigorous.” http://bit.ly/2igQ9TQ #cdnpoli #environmental #assessmentsIt’s like a black box of decision-making. That’s not scientifically rigorous.”

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 15:51 • Andrew Nikiforuk

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

Another U.S. study has found that hydraulic fracking, which triggers small- to medium-sized earthquakes, can change the chemistry and quality of groundwater.

The report comes at the same time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the final version of its five-year-long study on fracking, which confirms that Tweet: New study: #fracking's brute force technology “can impact & have impacted drinking water resources” http://bit.ly/2hEqyY1 #bcpoli #cdnpoliall stages of the brute force technology “can impact and have impacted drinking water resources” and that impacts vary “in frequency and severity” depending on location, the scale of operations, and technologies used.

The findings put to rest claims by the oil and gas industry and its regulators that hydraulic fracturing is entirely safe and proven.

In 2010, for example, Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and now President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, told a Congressional hearing, “There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one.”

Friday, December 16, 2016 - 05:58 • Mike Gaworecki

Eleven cities from around the world were celebrated recently in Mexico City at the C40 Cities Awards for their commitment to innovation in the fight against climate change.

The eleven-year-old C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group brings together officials from 85 of the world’s great cities that collectively represent one quarter of the global economy. The group’s focus is spurring urban initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the health, well-being, and economic opportunity of the more 650 million people who call those 85 cities home.

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