James Wilt

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James Wilt is a freelance journalist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a journalism degree from Mount Royal University in Calgary. He regularly contributes to DeSmog Canada, and has also written for VICE Canada, CBC Calgary, Alberta Oil, Fast Forward Weekly and Geez magazine.

How Oil Lobbyists Pressured Canada to Allow Drilling in a Marine Park

Oil Lobbyists CAPP Offshore Drilling DeSmog Canada

Sharks, sea turtles, corals, wolffish — the 1,200 kilometre Laurentian Channel off the southwest coast of Newfoundland is home to tremendous biodiversity.

And that’s the reason it’s set to become Canada’s newest Marine Protected Area, a designation designed to conserve and protect vulnerable species and ecosystems.

There’s just one catch: draft regulations for the proposed 11,619 square-kilometre protected area allow oil and gas exploration and drilling for much of the year. In addition, the government has reduced the size of the protected area by more than one-third from what was originally planned.

Fort McKay First Nation Fights for ‘Last Refuge’ Amidst Oilsands Development

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.”

BP Wants to Drill Underwater Wells Twice the Depth of Deepwater Horizon in Canada

BP Wants to Drill Underwater Wells Twice the Depth of Deepwater Horizon in Canada

BP Canada plans to drill up to seven exploratory wells off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia that are at least 3.5 times the distance from land and up to twice the depth of the well beneath the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig.

The Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 after the Macondo well, located 5.6 kilometres below surface, blew out — resulting in the deaths of 11 men and the largest marine oil spill in history.

The company’s proposed solution if a catastrophic blowout happens in Canadian waters relies on shipping a capping device from Norway, a process that is estimated to take between 12 to 19 days — but it could take between 13 and 25 days total to actually cap the well with the device.

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

The cancellation of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline in early October had major consequences for a rather unexpected player: Manitoba Hydro.

The company had been counting on the energy demand from the pipeline, and now the cancellation is putting extra strain on a company already plagued by debt and in the middle of building an $8.7 billion dam.

Back in 2014, the provincial utility company anticipated that almost 40 per cent of electricity generated by its proposed 695-megawatt Keeyask dam in northern Manitoba would be allocated to “pipeline load” for the Alberta Clipper, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines.

Specifically, the electricity would be used to run pumping stations, which force crude oil through pipelines via a series of pumps and motors. Among those pumping stations were those that would move bitumen from the oilsands to New Brunswick through the Energy East pipeline.

But Energy East is now officially dead.

How Solar Power Is Helping Redefine This Alberta First Nation

Beaver Lake Cree First Nation Solar Project

In 2015, seven young people died in Beaver Lake Cree Nation — a tiny community in northeast Alberta with an on-reserve population of only 345 people.

We started to lose young people,” recalled Crystal Lameman, treaty coordinator and member of the First Nation, in an interview with DeSmog Canada. “People my age, in my generation.”

A rise of drug use, alcohol consumption and violence in 2015 coincided with a downturn in the price of oil and job losses, creating a “time of crisis in the community,” she said.

Implementing UNDRIP is a Big Deal for Canada. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Justin Trudeau UNDRIP Canada

First opposed, then endorsed. It’s now pledged, but called “unworkable.”

In Canada the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is not ratified, nor from a legal perspective even really understood.

The history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous rights has been a sordid one. But all that was supposed to change with the nation’s latecomer adoption of the declaration. After years of federal Conservative inaction on the file, Justin Trudeau took to the campaign trail with a promise to restore Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

What Does The Peel Watershed Ruling Mean for the Yukon – and Canada?

Peel Wateshed Peter Mather

The long-awaited Supreme Court verdict on the Peel Watershed case is finally here.

In a unanimous ruling, the highest court in the country decided that three Yukon First Nations and two environmental organizations were correct in their push for a lengthy land-use planning process to be maintained and only rewound to the point where the government can conduct final consultations.

It’s been a lengthy and complex case. So what does today's decision really mean?

Q&A: Why the Fate of Canada’s Peel Watershed Rests in the Supreme Court’s Hands

Hart River, Peel Watershed Yukon

The fate of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed — one of the most pristine wilderness areas in Canada and home to four First Nations — will be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on Dec. 1.

What lies in store for the Peel will be determined by future land-use planning in the territory and whether and how those plans grant industry access to the undeveloped region.

Canada Tells NAFTA Leaky Oilsands Tailings Ponds a ‘Challenge’ to Prove, Despite Existing Federal Study

There’s no telling if the 220 square-kilometres of unlined tailings ponds in the Alberta oilsands are leaking contaminated waste into nearby water sources, according to the government of Canada.

That claim was made in an official response to NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Cooperation despite strong scientific evidence suggesting a clear linkage between the oilsands’ 1.3 trillion litres of fluid tailings and the contamination of local waterways.

The response comes after a June 2017 submission by two environmental organizations and a Dene man alleging the federal government was failing to enforce a section of the Fisheries Act that prohibits the release of a “deleterious substance” into fish-frequented waters.

Enbridge, TransCanada Among 11 Canadian Oil and Gas Firms Using Tax Havens

oilsands Kris Krug

Eleven of Canada’s largest oil and gas companies have dozens of subsidiaries and related companies in known tax haven jurisdictions, according to a new report from the Ottawa-based non-profit Canadians for Tax Fairness.

Those companies include Suncor, Enbridge, CNRL, TransCanada, Imperial Oil, Cenovus and Husky.

The report, titled “Bay Street and Tax Havens: Curbing Corporate Canada’s Addiction,” examined the largest 60 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and found that just four didn’t have a publicly listed subsidiary in a known low-tax or no-tax haven.

If you can afford the lawyers and accountants and it’s legal to do, you’ll do it,” report author Diana Gibson, told DeSmog Canada.

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