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.

Why A Canadian Mining Company Is Suing Romania for $4.4 Billion

Geamana village Romania

Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is suing Romania for $4.4 billion through a secretive tribunal after the country denied permits for the largest open-pit gold and silver mine in Europe — a project Canadian officials advocated for, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

Since 1997, the Canadian mining company (fun fact: it was founded by a man convicted twice of heroin possession), has pressured Romania to allow the construction of the proposed mine in northwest Romania.

The mine would destroy three villages, level four mountains and displace 2,000 people.

Tens of thousands of people marched against the Roșia Montană project in 2013 — the same year the Romanian parliament rejected permits for the mine’s construction. Since then, Romania has applied for the site to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Will Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Oilsands Pipeline Become the Standing Rock of the North?

Oceti Sakowin Camp Standing Rock

The battle against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline could lead to the next Standing Rock and destroy any investment case for the project, according to a newly released report.

The report, commissioned by the Secwepemc nation and prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, is titled “Standing Rock of the North: The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Secwepemc Risk Assessment.”

Over the course of 35 pages, it articulates seven ways that Kinder Morgan Canada has failed “to account for the lack of political, legal, and proprietary certainty surrounding the pipeline.”

Five Things We Learned from the Damning Report on the University of Calgary’s Connections with Enbridge

University of Calgary Enbridge

Senior administrators at the University of Calgary suppressed academic freedom and failed to address glaring conflicts of interest while attempting to establish an Enbridge-funded research centre, according to a report commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) that was released Wednesday.

The report — co-authored by Alison Hearn of the University of Western Ontario and Gus Van Harten of York University — is the result of almost two years of investigation, and starkly contradicts the findings of the university’s own internal review of the situation.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is a nationwide federation of associations representing 70,000 post-secondary workers.

Academic staff and professors involved at the centre reached out to senior administrators and said ‘we’re concerned about Enbridge’s influence over the centre, we don’t think we should be a PR firm for Enbridge,’” said David Robinson, executive director of CAUT, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

How Oil Hijacked Alberta’s Politics: Behind the Curtain With Former Liberal Leader Kevin Taft

Oil's Deep State Kevin Taft Alberta DeSmog Canada

For decades, Kevin Taft has served as a thorn in the side of Alberta’s provincial government.

In his new book, Taft, who served as a Liberal MLA between 2001 and 2012, and as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party — the province’s official opposition — between 2004 and 2008, maintains his course.

Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming — in Alberta, and in Ottawa is a controversial read.

Notably the book implicates the Alberta NDP, which was elected in 2015 with promises to challenge the sector’s dominance over political processes. To help explain why that didn’t happen, Taft deploys concepts of institutional capture and deep state — a term used when institutional capture occurs with several different entities and is maintained for a long time.

It’s a challenging and insightful read, one that will likely spark many debates about how we talk and think about the oil and gas sector.

DeSmog Canada chatted with Taft about the book.

Five Things You Need to Know About the Cancellation of the Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Alberta oilsands

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is officially dead.

Announced via press release on Thursday, the news confirmed long-held suspicions that the $15.7 billion, 4,500 km oilsands pipeline simply wouldn’t cut it in today’s economic context.

But that hasn’t stopped commentators on all sides from pouncing on the cancellation as proof of their political project. Conservative politicians have lambasted the federal Liberals for introducing carbon pricing and new rules on pipeline applications, while environmentalists have claimed the company’s decision was a direct result of their organizing.

DeSmog Canada is here to help wade through the mess. Here are five things you should know about the cancelled Alberta-to-New Brunswick pipeline.

Four’s Company: Where NDP Leadership Candidates Stand on Energy and Climate Policy

NDP leadership debate

It feels like an eternity since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair received the boot from delegates at the party convention in April 2016.

The lengthy leadership race hasn’t exactly helped that feeling.

Most candidates launched their campaigns in February. Nine debates were held between March and September. But we’re almost at the end of the tunnel. Voting for the first ballot, via both mail-in ballots and online, commenced on Sept. 18 and concludes on Oct. 1. If needed, second and third ballots will be collected by Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.

While there are only four candidates left in the race — Guy Caron, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton — there are an enormous number of combined proposals related to energy, climate and environmental policies (especially compared to what was discussed during the federal Conservative leadership race).

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer from the NDP candidates.

Norway’s Oil Savings Just Hit $1 Trillion. Alberta Has $17 Billion. What Gives?

Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund just hit a grand total of US $1 trillion dollars.

Just in case you’re wondering, 12 zeroes looks like this: $1,000,000,000,000

The number is 2.5 times Norway’s annual GDP and serves as the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. It has also somewhat predictably triggered a new round of consternation among Albertans, mourning the state of their own fund currently worth a measly $17.2 billion.

But Andrew Leach, associate professor at the University of Alberta’s business school and chair of the province’s completed Climate Change Advisory Panel, said it’s important to read past the headlines when it comes to the Norway vs. Alberta comparison.

What Canada Needs to Do Now (But Isn’t) to Prevent the Worst Impacts of Climate Change

A smokejumper makes a practice dive. Photo: August Gregg

With devastating hurricanes hitting the Caribbean islands and southern United States, massive wildfires displacing thousands in northern Manitoba and British Columbia and catastrophic flooding in India and Bangladesh killing more than 1,200 people, many Canadians are understandably anxious about what’s to come.

Climate scientists have long warned that the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme weather events will be greatly exacerbated in coming years and decades.

Yet Canada, which warmed at about twice the global average between 1948 and 2007, is still almost entirely unprepared for the impacts of those events, according to experts.

Where Are Canada's Missing Electric Cars?

Canada's missing electric vehicles

The race is on for electric vehicle supremacy.

Last week, China — the world’s second largest economy and consumer of about one-third of new cars — announced it will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, in a move that is expected to accelerate the global push into the electric car market.

China joins Norway, France and the U.K. in announcing plans to phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Goldman Sachs recently estimated that electric vehicles will make up 32 per cent of global auto sales by 2040.

So, as the world moves toward the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, where is Canada in all of this?

3% of the World’s Endangered Right Whales Died This Summer, Mostly in Canada’s Unprotected Waters

Entangled North Atlantic Right Whale

The summer of 2017 was an extraordinarily deadly one for North Atlantic right whales, a species already hovering on the brink of extinction.

Investigations are ongoing into the cause of death of 15 right whales off the Atlantic Coast of Canada and the U.S., although it’s not too soon to point the finger at human activity, Megan Leslie, vice president of oceans for WWF-Canada, told DeSmog Canada.

I’ve been frustrated by reports that we don’t know what’s killing these whales,” Leslie said.

We do. We know it’s human activity. There haven’t been necropsies on all of the whales, but the ones where there have been it’s clearly been blunt force trauma from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.”

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