Judith Lavoie

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Judith Lavoie is an award-winning journalist based in Victoria, British Columbia. Lavoie covered environment and First Nations stories for the Victoria Times Colonist for more than 20 years and is now working as a freelancer. She previously worked on newspapers in New Brunswick, Cyprus, England and the Middle East. Lavoie has won four Webster awards and has been nominated for a National Newspaper Award and a Michener Award.

B.C. Not Prepared for Climate Change Disasters, Not On Track to Cut Emissions: Auditor General

B.C. forest fire

B.C. is woefully unprepared to deal with climate change catastrophes, despite recent floods, droughts and forest fires, and the province is not dealing effectively with the root cause of climate change, meaning it is unlikely to meet its 2020 or 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets, says a highly critical report by the province’s Auditor General Carol Bellringer.

Overall we found the B.C government is not adequately managing the risks posed by climate change,” Bellringer said.

Both adaptation, reducing potential harm from climate change, and mitigation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, are needed to create climate resilience and B.C. is failing on both counts, according to the report.

The Weaver-Horgan LNG Kerfuffle Explained

Weaver Horgan LNG DeSmog Canada

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver becomes downright indignant at suggestions he has retreated even a fraction from the LNG ultimatum he first delivered during a year-end interview with DeSmog Canada.

If B.C. starts to focus again on trying to land an LNG industry given all that has happened, I can tell you I am voting government down,” Weaver said in late December. “I am not standing by and watching us give away the farm yet again to land an industry we’re not competitive in. That’s my line in the sand.”

While Premier John Horgan was on a trade mission in Asia last week, Weaver repeated his ultimatum on Twitter, threatening to topple the government if the NDP continued to pursue “LNG folly,” emphasizing that B.C. cannot meet its climate targets if any major LNG project goes ahead. 

B.C.’s Fugitive Gas Pains: Report Calls for Crackdown on Biggest Polluters

methane emissions oil and gas wells BC

A potent, heat-trapping gas is being released into the atmosphere from B.C.’s oil and gas wells at a much higher rate than shown in industry and government reports and immediate action is needed, a new study by the David Suzuki Foundation confirms.

The findings, released Wednesday, follows on the heels of a previous peer-reviewed study by the Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University, which found methane emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas industry are two-and-a-half times higher than reported.

The study revealed that wells in the Montney region, in northeast B.C. near Fort St. John, released more than 11,800 tonnes of methane into the air annually — the equivalent of burning 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting two million cars on the road.

How a U.S. Company is Suing Canada for Rejecting Quarry in Endangered Whale Nursery

Right Whales

When a Canadian federal-provincial environmental review panel ruled in 2007 that a proposed quarry would go against community core values and would threaten right whales and other marine life in the Bay of Fundy, groups that had fought against the project believed that was the end of the story.

But, that is not how the system works under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has dispute settlement provisions allowing corporations to sue governments for compensation when they feel the local environmental approvals process has interfered with expected profits.

B.C. Quietly Releases Emissions Update That Shows It’ll Blow 2020 Climate Target

Premier John Horgan BC Emissions Inventory

Figures in a B.C. greenhouse gas inventory released quietly before Christmas show emissions have risen for four of the last five years.

Previously the province released a full public report on emissions, including inventory methodology, every two years but in December the government released a excel spreadsheet simply listing emissions figures for the second year in a row. The spreadsheet was published without any formal announcement or news release.

By law the province is required to reduce emissions 80 per cent from 2007 levels by 2050. In 2008 the province created a benchmark within that reduction, committing to get to 33 per cent reductions by 2020.

But the new figures show B.C. is not on course to meet that 2020 target. Instead emissions are only 2.1 per cent lower than the baseline year of 2007 and are on the rise.

B.C. Bans Grizzly Hunt for Trophies and Meat, But Indigenous Practices to Continue

Grizzly Hunt, Trophy Hunt Ban, DeSmog Canada, Garth Lenz

As Valerie Murray realized she was witnessing the end of grizzly bear hunting in B.C. she burst into tears.

After years of tirelessly campaigning to stop the trophy hunt, Murray, a founder of Justice for B.C. Grizzlies, could hardly believe that the provincial government was not only banning grizzly bear trophy hunting, but closing the loophole that would have allowed hunting for meat, provided perceived trophies such as the paws, head, hide and penis bone were not taken.

I just had to weep. People are almost afraid to believe it. Way-to-go for listening NDP. They knew they couldn’t monitor it, so they did the right thing,” Murray said.

Mining Company Loses 5-Year B.C. Lawsuit Meant to ‘Silence’ Critics

Taseko Mines Wilderness Committee SLAPP suit

The Wilderness Committee has won a landmark defamation case brought against it by Taseko Mines Ltd. but, despite the win, the non-profit environmental group will suffer financially after fighting the company in court for five years.

The case is being held up as a textbook example of why anti-SLAPP legislation is needed in B.C.

We are very proud to have stood our ground, but B.C. very much needs anti-SLAPP legislation. We were completely innocent and yet this company was able to keep us in the courts for five years — and their pockets are much deeper than ours,” said Wilderness Committee national campaigner Joe Foy.

B.C. Coughs Up Fracking Report Four Years Late and Only After It Was Leaked to Journalist

Fracking BC

Hundreds of gas wells could be leaking methane and potentially contaminating groundwater, according to a B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) report that has been kept secret from the public and politicians for four years.

That suppression of information is giving ammunition to calls for a full public inquiry into fracking operations in the province.

It is deeply troubling that B.C.’s energy regulator kept this report secret. Why did it not tell the public? Why, as the OGC now alleges, did it also not share the report with cabinet ministers who have responsibility for the energy industry?” Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told DeSmog Canada.

Fish Farms a Viral Hotspot for Infection of B.C.’s Wild Salmon, New Study Finds

Farm Salmon Tavish Campbell

Wild salmon swimming past B.C. fish farms are at high risk of picking up a virus that causes weakness and affects their ability to reach spawning grounds according to new groundbreaking research published this week in the scientific journal PLOS One (Public Library of Science One).

The study found the percentage of wild salmon infected with piscine reovirus (PRV) was much higher in wild salmon exposed to a large cluster of salmon farms along the B.C. coast than in those that were not.

In my view allowing piscine reovirus to flow from salmon farms into the marine environment will be viewed as an environmental crime of the highest order,” independent biologist and study author, Alexandra Morton, told DeSmog Canada.

Imperial Metals’ Financial Downgrade Raises Questions About Liability of Mount Polley, Red Chris Mines

Red Chris Mine Garth Lenz| DeSmog Canada

A leading credit rating agency’s financial downgrading of Imperial Metals Corp. is sending alarm signals through B.C. and Alaska groups concerned about the future of mines operated by the company.

Moody’s Investor Service has reassessed Imperial Metals’ “probability of default rating,” with financial analysts stating the company is at imminent risk of not being able to pay its debts. The company’s rating is “judged to be speculative, of poor standing, subject to very high default risk and may be in default on some, but not all, of their long-term debt obligations,” according to the service.

Imperial Metals, based in Vancouver, owns the Mount Polley Mine near Williams Lake — the site of the 2014 tailings pond collapse — and the Red Chris Mine, a large open-pit mine near the border of Alaska which uses the same tailings pond infrastructure as Mount Polley.