Emma Gilchrist

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Emma Gilchrist is Executive Director of DeSmog Canada. She is a writer, editor and citizen engagement specialist based in Victoria, B.C.

Emma grew up in a small town in northwestern Alberta where she saw firsthand how oil and gas development plays an important role in Canadian communities. She went on to earn a journalism degree from Mount Royal University in Calgary. In 2015, Emma was the recipient of the Horizon Award from Mount Royal for outstanding achievements in the first 10 years after graduation.

Emma has worked as a reporter and editor in Canada and the U.K., including stints at the Calgary Sun, Calgary Herald, Cambridge Evening News and BBC Essex. While at the Calgary Herald, Emma created a weekly environmental column and website called The Green Guide, which won an Alberta Emerald Award, a Canadian Newspaper Association Great Ideas Award and was featured by the Online Journalism Review.

Most recently, Emma served as the Communications Director for the Dogwood Initiative, a citizen’s advocacy group that helps British Columbians have more say in decisions about their air, land and water. In 2012, Dogwood was nominated for a Katerva Award, described by Reuters as the “Nobel of sustainability.”

Emma’s writing on travel, health, fitness and the environment has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Province, The Tyee, Up! Magazine and the Huffington Post.

You can contact Emma via e-mail at emma [at] desmog [dot] ca

Pacific NorthWest LNG is Dead: 5 Things You Need to Know

LNG Tanker

Malaysia’s Petronas has cancelled plans to build the Pacific NorthWest LNG plant on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., in a move seen as a major setback for B.C.'s LNG dreams and as a major win for those concerned about climate change and salmon habitat.

The project would have involved increased natural gas production in B.C.’s Montney Basin, a new 900-kilometre pipeline and the export terminal itself.

Here’s what you need to know about Tuesday’s announcement.

Pacific NorthWest LNG Hits Road Block as Gas Pipeline Sent Back to National Energy Board by Federal Court

Site of Pacific NorthWest LNG

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the National Energy Board (NEB) made a legal mistake by not considering whether TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline is under federal jurisdiction, thus requiring NEB approval.

The 900-kilometre natural gas pipeline would move mostly fracked gas from northeastern B.C. to the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near Prince Rupert.

The pipeline was approved by the B.C. government but Smithers, B.C., resident Mike Sawyer requested that the NEB hold a full hearing to determine whether the pipeline is actually in federal jurisdiction.

Q&A With the Host of CBC’s Badass New Podcast About Climate Change

Johanna Wagstaffe CBC Degrees of Change

A new podcast series by CBC Vancouver paints a dramatic picture of what life in British Columbia will look like after 30 years of climate change.

More frequent heat waves, more extreme forest fires, a massive drop in the snow pack and brutal storms are just some of the consequences British Columbians will feel 33 years from now. In other words: say goodbye to skiing and pond hockey and say hello to flooding and air quality advisories.

The series, 2050: Degrees of Change, is divvied up into six episodes, which look at everything from the water cycle and agriculture to forests and what climate change means for our cities.

Half of British Columbians Support Review or Cancellation of Site C Dam

Site C dam construction | Garth Lenz

Almost exactly a year ago, B.C. Hydro touted “broad support” for its controversial Site C dam — a mega hydro dam on the Peace River that would flood 107 kilometres of river valley, forcing farmers and First Nations off their land.

Now, as besieged Premier Christy Clark puts all her spin doctoring powers to work to attempt to save the dam from being canned, new polling from Angus Reid shows that more British Columbians want to review or cancel the project than want to let the project go ahead.

Those numbers are pretty remarkable when you consider that Site C is already almost two years into construction and BC Hydro has put considerable resources into quieting critical media coverage of the project. 

First Nations Chief Hopeful For Stop to Site C, More Balanced Approach to Resource Extraction

Chief Roland Willson

Roland Willson is a practical man. As chief of the West Moberly First Nation in northeastern B.C., he’s got to be.

The natural gas industry is the main source of employment,” Willson said over coffee in Victoria this week, before heading into meetings with the B.C. NDP and B.C. Green parties. “It’s a natural resource economy up there.”

Of all the industrial activity happening on his traditional territory — ranging from fracking to forestry to coal mining — one development takes the cake: the Site C dam.

With B.C.’s new NDP-Green alliance, and its promise to send the $9 billion Site C for an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), there’s reason for Willson to be hopeful.

We are hopeful that this stupid project is going to get stopped. They’ve done nothing that can’t be undone so far. The trees will grow back. The animals will come back,” Willson. “I'm pretty confident that if it goes to the BCUC, it'll be deemed non-viable.”

Justin Trudeau May Look Pretty in a Kayak, But He’s No Climate Saint

Justin Trudeau kayak

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to capture international headlines for a kayak outing on the Niagara River in Ontario.

How, you may ask? Well Trudeau paddled up to a family’s dock and had a brief conversation with them about water levels. According to Elle Magazine, he looked “picture perfect” while doing it. It all very quickly became a Twitter sensation.

Trudeau’s photogenic boat trip coincided with World Environment Day and in a speech afterward, the prime minister vowed to continue to fight climate change.

The American press, still bewildered by their president’s widely criticized decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, went wild.

Christy Clark’s Dangerous Site C Propaganda War

B.C. Premier Christy Clark

Politics and propaganda have never been strangers to one another, but what’s happening to political discourse around the world right now is cause for concern.

While much attention is paid to Donald Trump’s obvious attempts to mislead the public, a more insidious form of propaganda is playing out right here in British Columbia.

Case in point: B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s recent letter on the Site C dam, addressed to NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver.

The letter follows on the heels of Horgan’s request for BC Hydro to hold off on evictions and signing new contracts until after the B.C. Utilities Commission can review the costs and demand for the most expensive project in B.C.’s history. 

Horgan’s letter wasn’t addressed to Clark, but she found it in herself to reply anyway. 

Horgan to Hydro: Don’t Sign New Site C Contracts or Evict Residents

Arlene Boon

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has written to B.C. Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald to urge the crown corporation not to finalize any contracts or evict any residents to make way for the Site C dam until a new government is in place.

I note that the majority of British Columbians who voted in this election voted for parties that want to see the Site C project reviewed or stopped,” Horgan wrote to McDonald.

A co-operation agreement between the B.C. NDP and Green Party released this week indicated that if the NDP forms government, Site C will immediately be sent for an expedited review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

However, construction will not be paused during the review, which has led to concerns that irreversible harm could be done to the Peace Valley in the coming months. Enter today’s letter to McDonald.

I write to you today to express my concern regarding impacts on the community of Bear Flat, the West Moberly First Nation, the Prophet River First Nation, and other families and communities impacted by the government’s decision to expropriate lands for the advancement of Site C,” Horgan wrote.

10 Potential Game-Changers in B.C.’s NDP-Green Agreement

John Horgan Andrew Weaver NDP-Green Agreement

After three weeks of nail-biting, British Columbians finally have a clearer sense of what’s in store for the province as the NDP and Greens released their cooperation agreement today.

The 10-page agreement establishes the basis for the Greens to “provide confidence” in an NDP government. Translation: the agreement lays out what the NDP agreed to in return for the Greens guaranteeing to support NDP budgets and confidence motions.

And boy oh boy, is there ever a lot of gold in this document. Here are 10 of the biggest potential game changers on the energy and environment file.

5 Reasons to Give a Shit About the B.C. Election

Provincial politics. There, I said them — two of the most boring words in the English language.

There’s no denying it. Provincial elections fail to capture the imaginations of citizens the way national or even international elections do.

Case in point: in the last B.C. provincial election, just 55 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot — 13 per cent fewer than voted in the last federal election.

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