Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 14:07 • James Wilt
Oil pipeline

The Alberta Energy Regulator — responsible for regulating more than 430,000 kilometres of pipelines in the province — has finally started to try to clean up its image.

In the last two weeks of February, the agency launched a “compliance dashboard” that reports recent pipeline incidents, it levelled a $172,500 fine against Murphy Oil for a 2015 spill that went undetected for 45 days and it shut down all operations by the notoriously uncooperative Lexin Resources, including 201 pipelines.

But critics suggest there are major systemic flaws in the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that still need to be addressed if pipeline safety is to be taken seriously.

It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “You’re talking about a spill that went undetected for 45 days. And the company was fined an amount that they could likely make in less than an hour. That doesn’t send any message to the company. It definitely doesn’t send any message to the industry. And it doesn’t reform company behaviour.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 11:54 • James Wilt

Alberta’s residential solar industry has chugged along for decades without government support.

That dry spell finally drew to a close on Monday, when the provincial NDP government announced a two-year, $36 million rebate program to help bring down the costs for residents, business and nonprofits who want to install solar projects.

By 2020, the number of solar installations on rooftops is expected to increase from 1,800 to 10,000 systems, which will create about 900 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a half million tonnes (or the same as taking 100,000 cars off the road). The program is funded through the province's carbon tax revenue.

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 15:58 • Bruce Lourie
Transmission line
Transmission line

What do electricity prices have in common with the rain? Politicians don’t control either. However, hearing the Ontario Conservatives and NDPs slamming the Liberals this week for rising electricity costs and pretending they somehow have the answer, you’d hardly know it. But the fact is, Tweet: Any politician who promises low electricity rates is selling a lie — one we all end up paying for http://bit.ly/2myQ6WD #cdnpoli #onpoliany politician who promises low electricity rates is selling a lie — one that all of us end up paying for sooner or later.

Ontario’s electricity woes stem back to the late 1970s and, over the past 40 odd years, all three parties have had a hand in them. It started with the building of the Darlington nuclear station, which the Bill Davis Tories approved and the David Peterson Liberals saw through to completion — 10 years late and almost $12 billion over budget. No one could afford to pay the real cost of Darlington, so Ontarians carried that debt for the next three decades.

Over that time, electricity — like cars, and coffee, and just about everything else we buy — didn’t get cheaper, it got more expensive. And when the recession hit in 1993, and electricity prices were rising, people got angry. The party in power at that time, the NDP, did the popular thing; it froze electricity rates, halting investment in the power system.

Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 16:50 • Michael Harris
Justin Trudeau, Broken Promises
Justin Trudeau, Broken Promises

This article originally appeared on iPolitics.

The man sitting at the head of the table has a face that should be on money.

It is calm, etched with wrinkle lines of infinite patience, utterly immune to honeyed words. Tweet: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels http://bit.ly/2m63oML #bcpoli #cdnpoliGrand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than the parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels — most of them destined to be broken by the politicians who made them. Yet behind the softness, the weary eyes suggest something else. These are undefeated eyes.

I am in the downtown Vancouver boardroom of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the gentle voice is saying some very tough things.

My wife and I were scheduled to march in the Chinese New Year’s parade in Vancouver, until we found out that Trudeau was going to be there,” he says. “No way was I going to meet him unless I was on one side of the barrier, and he was on the other.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 16:24 • Carol Linnitt
Shawnigan Lake
Shawnigan Lake

Photo credit to Laura Colpitts.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak announced today she is revoking a permit granted to Cobble Hill Holdings for the disposal of 5 million tonnes of contaminated waste in a local quarry in the Shawnigan Lake watershed, roughly 40 kilometres north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Effective immediately, I am cancelling the waste discharge permit for Cobble Hill Holdings because the company has failed to meet the requirements outlined in my Jan. 27 letter,” the minister stated in a press release.

Polak said the company did not provide B.C. with proof of financial security in the form of a letter of credit by a determined deadline.

Cobble Hill Holdings has been given multiple opportunities to respond to outstanding non-compliance and has repeatedly missed deadlines with respect to its permit requirements,” the minister stated.

The company was cited for non-compliance both this fall and last for failing to control water runoff from the waste site, a fact that heightened concerns of Shawnigan Lake residents who felt that the project would contaminate their drinking water.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 11:43 • Eric Swanson
Winter Coast Salish Gathering. Photo by Zack Embree.
Winter Coast Salish Gathering. Photo by Zack Embree.

With federal decisions on major oil pipeline and tanker projects in the headlines, many suggest our elected officials should lean more on science to make these kinds of decisions.

Those exhortations sound very reasonable. But they reveal an enormously important misunderstanding about the role of science in making decisions on major resource projects.

Take the case of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project on the West Coast.

On one side, you have staunch opposition from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and other coastal and Fraser River First Nations, West Coast municipalities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria, and a sizable percentage of B.C.’s voting public.

On the other side, you have staunch support from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton, and a sizable percentage of Alberta’s voting public.

Tweet: 'Is one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?' http://bit.ly/2ly7haN #bcpoli #cdnpoliIs one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?

Of course not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 13:30 • James Wilt
Wind River in the Peel Watershed. Photo by Peter Maher
Wind River in the Peel Watershed. Photo by Peter Maher

Almost 40 years ago, former federal judge Thomas Berger issued a final report in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, at the time Canada’s longest, largest and most comprehensive industrial project review.

The massive two-volume report was the product of exhaustive consultations between 1974 and 1977 with Dene, Métis and Inuit peoples, and recommended that the proposed construction of a gas pipeline be delayed for a full decade in the Northwest Territories and permanently barred from the Northern Yukon as it would “entail irreparable environmental losses of national and international importance.”

It turned out to be an incredibly pivotal moment in the history of Indigenous rights and ecological protections in Canada, arguably helping to preserve the largely pristine Northern Yukon, Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea for the decades since.

And on March 22, 2017 — a single day before his 84th birthday — Berger will fight another battle on behalf of the region, this time representing three Yukon First Nations (Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, Na-cho Nyak Dun and Vuntut-Gwitchin) and two environmental organizations (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Yukon Conservation Society) in the Supreme Court of Canada over land-use planning in the Peel Watershed.

Monday, February 20, 2017 - 17:37 • Discourse Media

This investigation was reported by Trevor Jang for Discourse Media. It is the second part of an ongoing investigation into how government negotiates with First Nations for major resource development projects.

Nestled in the forests of northwestern British Columbia, Richard Wright hauls a 30-pound moose chest out of a smokehouse. He shot the animal a few days ago, just a few kilometres north of camp.

You want your wood to smoulder, not flame or get too warm. So you either get some alder or some cottonwood, which changes the flavour that you’re adding to the meat,” Wright says, after placing the chest in the back of his trunk, followed by the legs, rump, backbone and spine.

Wright is preserving food in the way the Gitxsan people here have for many generations. The act also has a deeper purpose; this camp, where he and others are living off the land for the past two years, is a form of protest, an occupation of a sort.

The Madii Lii camp, which includes a cabin, smokehouse, greenhouse and garden, strategically blocks the path of the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline. The 900-kilometre pipeline is proposed to carry natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) export terminal proposed for Lelu Island on the province’s north coast.

Pages