Carol Linnitt

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Carol Linnitt is Managing Editor and Director of Research for DeSmog Canada. Carol is a writer and researcher focusing on energy development, environmental policy and wildlife. She joined DeSmog in June 2010 as a researcher, focusing much of her time on the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing.

Carol is the lead author of DeSmog's original report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health & Climate. Her work also led to the DeSmog micro-documentary CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story and the Cry Wolf investigative series.

Carol began her environmental career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity.

Carol has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural resource conflicts and Aboriginal rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria in the English and Cultural, Social and Political Thought programs.

North Coast Oil Tanker Ban Won’t Actually Ban Tankers Full of Oil Products on B.C.’s North Coast

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s November proposal to ban oil tanker traffic from B.C.’s north coast received kind reception on the west coast of Canada where the Heiltusk First Nation was still busy responding to a devastating diesel spill from the Nathan E. Stewart, a sunken fuel barge tug that was leaking fuel into shellfish harvest grounds near Bella Bella.

The tanker ban, however, won’t protect the coast from incidents like the Nathan E. Stewart from happening again, nor from the threat of future refined oil tankers passing through the same waters, according to a new analysis by West Coast Environmental Law.

Reviewing the tanker ban proposal, which has yet to be passed as legislation, West Coast identified numerous loopholes and exclusions that allow for the continued transport of oil on B.C.’s north coast via foreign fuel barges and even, potentially, in supertankers full of refined oil products like jet fuel.

BC Liberals Leak NDP’s Climate Plan — A Plan Everyone Agrees Is Pretty Awesome

John Horgan

Leaked internal documents and theatrical political spin?

Tweet: 'Nothing like a little intrigue to spice up your B.C. climate politics, amiright?' http://bit.ly/2k3Q5Yc #bcpoli #bcelxn17 @carollinnittNothing like a little intrigue to spice up your B.C. climate politics, amiright?

Just in case you weren’t aware, the race for political leadership in B.C. is on. With the May 9 election just three months away, it’s time for the mud-slinging to begin, I guess.

The BC Liberals aren’t wasting any time.

This morning the BC Liberals leaked internal NDP documents related to the official opposition’s climate plan — 90 minutes before NDP leader John Horgan was due to release the plan at a Vancouver press conference.

Saucy.

Finding a Lifeline for Canada’s Threatened Arctic Caribou

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.

Federal Government Seeks to Quash Lawsuit Against Mount Polley and B.C. Government Before Evidence Heard

The federal government is seeking to stay a private lawsuit brought against Mount Polley Mining Corporation and the B.C. government in October 2016, nearly 30 months after the collapse of the Mount Polley tailings pond spilled 25-million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste into Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water for residents of Likely, B.C.

Now the federal government is seeking a withdrawal of the criminal charges before MiningWatch Canada — the organization that first brought the charges, which claim the company and the province violated the federal Fisheries Act — has been given the opportunity to present evidence.

We were stunned that the federal Crown does not even want us to show the court that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding with a prosecution against both the B.C. government and [the Mount Polley Mining Corporation] for the worst mining spill in Canadian history,” Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch, said.

VIDEO: The Many Faces of Christy Clark on Kinder Morgan

On Wednesday the province of B.C. granted final approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Exactly one year earlier B.C. announced its official opposition to the pipeline in a final submission to the National Energy Board.

In that final submission B.C. said the pipeline posed unacceptable oil spill risks to the province’s land and water.

Since 2013 B.C. has upheld five conditions that must be met for a pipeline project to receive provincial support. Marine and oil spill response capabilties are two of those conditions.

We have not at this time seen evidence in the NEB process that those conditions have been met,” B.C. environment minister Mary Polak told the press last year.

Now, one year later, B.C. has reversed its position and thrown its support behind the oil pipeline project.

Inspectors find BC Hydro Violating Rules During Site C Construction

Site C Construction by Garth Lenz

Two enforcement orders released by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office detail BC Hydro’s failure to comply with environmental protection rules during construction of the Site C dam.

The orders, issued to BC Hydro in late December and first reported by the Globe and Mail on Sunday, detail on-site inspections that found BC Hydro out of compliance with permit conditions related to the protection of drinking water and amphibian species.

One non-compliance order found BC Hydro failed to comply with two conditions outlined in Site C construction permits for the protection of amphibian species.

Condition 19 requires BC Hydro to “avoid and reduce injury and mortality to amphibians on roads adjacent to wetlands and other areas where amphibians are known to migrate across roads.”

A related condition, number 16, requires BC Hydro to conduct amphibian surveys at Portage Mountain to “identify specific mitigation structures and placement prior to road construction.”

However in late August, Alex McLean, a compliance inspector with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office found BC Hydro had constructed an access road at Portage Mountain without conducting amphibian surveys or installing amphibian mitigation structures.

Southeast Alaskans Ask Canada to Strengthen Its Environmental Laws

British Columbia’s environmental review process simply isn’t strong enough to protect Alaskan communities and rivers from the province’s mining boom, Jill Weitz, American campaigner with Salmon Beyond Borders, recently told a panel reviewing Canada’s environmental assessment process.

Weitz, who works to protect Alaska’s wild salmon runs, traveled to Prince Rupert to tell a trio of experts appointed by the federal government how a more robust federal environmental assessment process could help address transboundary concerns arising in the wake of B.C.’s major push for new mines.

The federally appointed panel is currently reviewing the environmental assessment process managed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency which is responsible for reviewing major development projects including pipelines, oil and gas development and mines. Changes made under the previous federal government excluded major mines in British Columbia from the federal environmental assessment process — a legislative change Weitz and others say left Alaska in an uncomfortable position.

The transboundary region traversing the border of northwest B.C. and southeast Alaska is home to three major salmon rivers, the Taku, Stikine and Unuk. The rivers flow into Alaska from an area in B.C. that is home to 10 new mines either proposed or already under construction.

Open Science: Can Canada Turn the Tide on Transparency in Decision-Making?

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.”

Canadian Scientists Say They’re Unsure What Trudeau Means When He Says ‘Science’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned aggressively on the issue of science in the lead up to the last federal election. And it makes sense that he did: for the first time ever in Canadian history the issue of scientific integrity was a major election issue for voters across the nation.

Images of shuttered libraries, gagged scientists and dumpsters full of books haunted the Canadian imagination under the Harper government.

Trudeau promised to change all of that. Brandishing the language of the scientific community itself Trudeau painted a vision of a Canadian scientific renaissance, with the restoration of scientific integrity and the veritable holy grail of political vows: evidence-based decision-making.

As a scientist, I was personally thrilled with the Liberal government’s vocal support for science, especially regarding the critical role that scientific evidence should play in informed decision-making,” Wendy Palen, associate professor and biologist at Simon Fraser University, told DeSmog Canada.

In the early days of the federal government under Trudeau, there were several events that shored up that sense of optimism including the anchoring of ministerial duties in science in open mandate letters and restored funding for research in the first Liberal budget.

Trudeau also promised to bring social and scientific credibility back to the environmental assessments of major resource projects.

I think I can say the scientific community breathed a sigh of relief over the change in attitude around science and the role of scientific decision-making,” Palen said.

But, she added, that sentiment has stopped short in recent months.

Federal Scientists Officially Unmuzzled in New Collective Agreement with Federal Government

Canada’s federal scientists have won the right to speak freely about their research and science without upper level bureaucratic control, a feature central to restrictive communications protocols under the Harper government.

The move to officially unmuzzle scientists comes after the Professional Institute of Public Service Canada (PIPSC), Canada’s largest union federal employees including 15,000 scientists, researchers and engineers, negotiated to include scientists’ right to speak in a collective agreement deal.

This is an enormous win not only for federal scientists but for all Canadians,” PIPSC President Debi Daviau said in a statement.

Tweet: “Following the defeat of the Harper government, we vowed no government should ever again silence science” http://bit.ly/2hrkIXF #cdnpoli“Following the defeat last year of the Harper government, we vowed that no government should ever again silence science. This new provision will help ensure that remains the case now and in the future.”

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