Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 08:25 • James Wilt
Moose Lake

Nobody could ever accuse Chief Jim Boucher of being anti-oilsands.

First elected to lead Fort McKay First Nation in northeast Alberta more than three decades ago, Boucher has made a name for his cooperative relationship with industry, which includes launching a sizable oilsands service conglomerate, denouncing environmentalists and purchasing a 34 per cent stake in a $1 billion Suncor bitumen storage terminal.

But now, a proposed 10,000 barrel per day oilsands project is threatening to infringe on a nearby sacred region called Moose Lake that serves as the First Nation’s “key cultural heartland” and is shared with the local Métis community for traditional activities. And Boucher is speaking out against the project — specifically targeting the provincial NDP for failing to finalize a management plan that would restrict development in the area prior to the regulatory hearings.

This government does not want to do an agreement with Fort McKay,” said Boucher in an interview with DeSmog Canada, during a break in the Alberta Energy Regulator hearings. “We’ve had discussions with them. As a result of these discussions, we have gone nowhere in terms of trying to resolve our issues with respect to the integrity of Moose Lake.”

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:45 • David Beers
The Vancouver School of journalism is having an impact on the media landscape

Why has B.C. become home to Canada’s most vibrant news ecosystem? Credit the wellspring of creativity here — the province’s beauty and potential has long attracted change-makers.

Hidden amid gloomy tales of the decline of Canada’s news media is a success story in southwestern British Columbia.

Here, a cluster of digital outlets have flowered by paying for top-notch investigative and solutions-focused reporting. They are forging new business models and training the next wave of journalists.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 13:33 • James Wilt
Canada Clean Fuel Standard

It just might be the best climate policy you’ve never heard of.

It’s called the Clean Fuel Standard. Proposed back in December 2016 when the landmark Pan-Canadian Framework was signed by most provinces and territories, it’s since been vastly overshadowed by other, splashier policies, such as carbon pricing, the federal coal phase-out and methane regulations.

But as outlined in a brand new report by Clean Energy Canada — a think tank based at Simon Fraser University — the policy has incredible potential to cut Canada’s annual greenhouse emissions: upward of 30 megatonnes per year, compared to 18 megatonnes from the carbon price.

So why hasn’t anyone heard of it? DeSmog Canada took a look at the details to help you make sense of the situation.

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.

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.