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Bigger, Hotter, Faster: Canada’s Wildfires are Changing and We’re Not Ready

BC Wildfires by MCpl Gabrielle DesRochers, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

By Ed Struzik for The Tyee.

While doing research for a book I was writing on wildfire, I posed two questions to a number of experts: “Do you think there will be another Fort McMurray-like fire in the future? If so, where do you think it will happen?”

Everyone agreed on the first question. Fort McMurray was not an anomaly. It will happen again, sooner rather than later, and likely with deadly consequences.

Christy Clark Worried Mount Polley Spill Would Harm New Mine Construction, New Docs Show

Mount Polley Mine Disaster

By Jeremy J.Nuttall for The Tyee.

In the hours after the 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster, authorities were already concerned laws had been broken and the premier’s office was worried fallout from the tailing pond breach would “get in the way” of other planned mines, documents provided to The Tyee reveal.

Almost three years after the disaster, and weeks away from a deadline to lay charges under B.C.’s environment act, no charges have been laid and no fines levied.

The government’s initial reaction to the dam’s collapse is revealed in hundreds of pages of emails and other communications obtained through a freedom of information request and provided to The Tyee by Jessica Ross, an independent researcher and member of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

Ross said she filed the FOI request almost three years ago and only received the documents July 4.

Rallying Cry: Youth Must Stand Up to Defend Democracy

Enbridge Rally Vancouver Zack Embree

Henry Giroux, McMaster University via The Conversation Canada.

According to famed anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, the central question of our times is whether we’re witnessing the worldwide rejection of liberal democracy and its replacement by some sort of populist authoritarianism.

There’s no doubt that democracy is under siege in several countries, including the United States, Turkey, the Philippines, India and Russia. Yet what’s often overlooked in analyses of the state of global democracy is the importance of education. Education is necessary to respond to the formative and often poisonous cultures that have given rise to the right-wing populism that’s feeding authoritarian ideologies across the globe.

Water Usage in B.C.’s Northeast Requires Indigenous Consent

Fracking wastewater B.C. Photo: CCPA

By Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ben Parfitt

One of the most important things that all Green and New Democratic Party MLAs agreed to in reaching their historic agreement to cooperate in governing together is their  “foundational” support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration is absolutely unambiguous in stating the “urgent need” for governments to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories and resources.

Enter the $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam, a project that former premier Christy Clark vowed to push past the point of no return, but that remains years away from construction.

Is Christy Clark Ramping Up for Another B.C. Election?

christy clark bc election

By Matt Price for iPolitics.

Don’t think for a second that it’s Christy Clark’s nature to go quietly into the night. In response, the B.C. NDP and Greens may have no choice other than to forge a pact to work together in a snap election.

During the press conference in which Christy Clark responded to the agreement between the BC NDP and Greens to cooperate in a minority government, TV cameras caught a glimpse of her speaking notes. The biggest word written on the page was “humble”; apparently she was reminding herself to dial down her signature scrappiness and appear gracious.

Clark also went on to say she would not resign, but would respect the process by a drafting a throne speech and holding a confidence vote — and not right away, either, but a few leisurely weeks later. Then, she named a cabinet that included rumoured candidates for the Speaker’s job, thereby taking them out of contention. With a one-vote difference between Clark’s Liberals and the ‘GreeNDP’ alliance, the question of who will put up the traditionally neutral Speaker has emerged as a key one.

Scientists Map Full Scale of B.C. Wave Energy Potential For First Time

Wave energy

This article originally appeared on The Climate Examiner

British Columbia now has sufficient detailed information about the height, frequency and direction of its coastal waves to start developing and testing wave energy converters in the ocean, according to a new report.

Quantifying the amount of energy contained in waves as they propagate — or more simply, the ‘wave energy transport’ — is more complex and intricate than assessing the energy contained in wind, tidal or solar resources. In general, these energy sources can be described using a single variable; air speed, water speed and incoming solar irradiation, respectively. In contrast, wave energy transport is multi-dimensional and depends on a variety of factors.

Six Troubling Subsidies That Support B.C.’s LNG Industry

By Maximilian Kniewasser, Pembina Institute.

Four years ago, the government of British Columbia bet big on the prospect of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports creating overseas markets for the province’s shale and tight gas resources.

LNG development would deliver 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and over $1 trillion in economic activity, British Columbians were told. Since then, however, the economics of LNG have shifted, and the predicted LNG boom has yet to materialize.

In order to attract LNG investment, the provincial government has provided myriad incentives, exemptions, and direct transfers to the natural gas industry. Financial incentives that shield the emissions-intensive industry from current and potential future increases in carbon costs are of particular concern to the Pembina Institute.

For one thing, these measures lessen the incentive to reduce carbon pollution — as the world increasingly demands that polluters pay for their emissions. Furthermore, such incentives use scarce public dollars to support the fossil fuel sector at a time when government should be removing barriers to clean innovation and investing in green jobs.

Here is an overview of six carbon-related incentives that benefit LNG projects and the natural gas industry in B.C.

Three Ways to Improve Alberta’s Toothless Energy Regulator

Alberta Energy Regulator

By Barry Robinson, Ecojustice.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is Alberta’s one-stop regulatory body for the oil and gas industry. When it was created in 2013 by the merging of the former Energy Resources Conservation Board and parts of Alberta Environment and Parks, the AER made bold claims about transparency, enforcement and becoming a “world-class” regulator.

Unfortunately, the AER has failed to live up to its promises. The AER has shown over and over again that it is either unable or unwilling to enforce its own laws, directives and orders. The AER has become a toothless regulator.

As a public interest lawyer I see first-hand how the AER’s failures affect Albertans.

Four Decades and Counting: A Brief History of the Site C Dam

Arlene Boon

This is a guest post by Ray Eagle.

Many British Columbians may not realize that the $9 billion Site C dam, currently under construction on the Peace River, has a 46-year back-story.

B.C. Hydro began engineering studies for Site C back in 1971. In the early 1980s B.C. Hydro went before the newly formed British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), created “to ensure that ratepayers receive safe, reliable, and nondiscriminatory energy services at fair rates from the utilities it regulates, and that shareholders of those utilities are afforded a reasonable opportunity to earn a fair return on their invested capital.”

In November 1983, the BCUC issued a 315-page summary that stated the dam was not needed at that time, while at the same time criticizing B.C. Hydro’s forecasting ability.

Tweet: “The Commission examined the methodology of @BCHydro's forecasting…” and it didn’t go so well in 1983. Or now still http://bit.ly/2nhohVbThe Commission examined the methodology of Hydro's forecasting … and concluded that, while significant improvements have been made, further improvements can and should be made to improve reliability,” the report read.

Four Things You Need to Know About How Coal Affects Human Health

Woman with respirator

By Benjamin Israël for the Pembina Institute.

In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced its intention to phase out coal as a source of power. Since then, many voices have misrepresented or questioned the impact that coal emissions have on Canadians’ health and our environment.

In order to clear the air, we’ve answered four of the biggest questions being asked about the link between an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power and human health.

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