Carol Linnitt's blog

EXCLUSIVE: B.C. Government Broke Law to Expedite Site C Dam Construction, Legal Experts Say

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) granted BC Hydro several exemptions from the B.C. Wildlife Act to keep Site C dam construction from falling behind expected timelines, DeSmog Canada has learned.

The exemptions have some local First Nations and legal experts concerned Premier Christy Clark’s promise to “push the project past the point of no return” is occurring at the cost of B.C.’s own permitting rules and wildlife management.

BC Hydro has gone rogue,” Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation told DeSmog Canada. “Worse yet, the province is aware of the situation and chooses to look the other way. What’s the point of having a regulator if it refuses to regulate?”

E-mail correspondence obtained by DeSmog Canada show BC Hydro requested last-minute permission from the Ministry of Forests to undertake “emergency amphibian salvage” along the banks of the Peace River. The ministry granted BC Hydro several exemptions from the Wildlife Act to conduct the work — something legal experts say is against the law.

Cost of Abandoned, Contaminated Mine Sites in B.C. $508 Million, Up 83 Per Cent Since 2014

Costs associated with the closure and reclamation of 84 abandoned industrial sites, mostly from mining, in B.C. have increased to $508 million, according to new information released from the Crown Contaminated Sites Program.

Responsibility for the sites has fallen to the province because the owners or operators of the projects “no longer exist,” according to a provincial press release

The estimated cleanup costs have grown by $231 million since 2014, representing an increase of 83.4 per cent, watchdog group MiningWatch notes

According to the province, a number of the mines, like the Britannia Mine near Squamish, or the Bralorne-Takla Mine in northern B.C., that now present a risk to human and enviornmental health, operated before 1969 when modern environmental legislation was created.

Although the province is quick to highlight work done over the past two years to clean up contaminated sites, Ugo Lapointe from MiningWatch says the significant growth in overall liability signals an urgent need for reform in the mining sector.

Federal Investigation Finds Site C Air Quality Monitors Turned Off

To celebrate Clean Air Day, June 8, the B.C. Government issued a press release celebrating the province’s air quality in the Peace region, home to extensive natural gas operations and Site C dam construction.

The press release, which praises the “successful partnership to ensure continued clean air in the Peace region,” came on the heels of a federal warning issued to BC Hydro for failing to turn on air quality monitors near Site C dam construction.

Federal investigators with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) discovered monitors near Site C operations, Tweet: #SiteC decides not to turn on air quality monitors #carbonmonoxide #nitrogendioxide #sulphurdioxide http://bit.ly/1U9v8ca #bcpoliwhich measure total suspended particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were not collecting any data.

CEAA compliance and enforcement chief Michel Vitou issued a warning letter to BC Hydro on May 26, saying the crown corporation “has been unable to monitor air quality effects in order to inform the appropriate authorities of exceedance of federal and provincial air quality standards.”

Shell Gives Up Nearly 40-Year Fight for Expired Arctic Permits, Opening Up Conservation Area

Canadian conservation groups are celebrating the proposed creation of an Arctic marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound, a region long-threatened by the possibility of exploratory oil and gas drilling.

Shell Canada first applied for exploration rights in Lancaster Sound in 1971 and although the related permits were set to expire by 1979 and despite a moratorium on drilling in the region, they inexplicably remained listed on the public registry of active permits.

Those permits, which granted Shell offshore rights in the waters of Baffin Bay, frustrated a decades-long fight to protect the biodiversity rich Lancaster Sound, an area famous for its large populations of narwhal, beluga, walrus and polar bear.

National Energy Board Gives Green Light to Kinder Morgan Pipeline Following Review Process Plagued with Failures

The National Energy Board (NEB) recommended a conditional approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion today after a years-long review process many participants criticized as inadequate, rushed and lacking in transparency.

In a filing posted Thursday the NEB recommended cabinet approve the project, subject to 157 conditions.

Taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors, and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the Board found that the benefits of the Project would outweigh the residual burdens,” the filing states.

Yet many individuals and organizations involved in the process say today’s recommendation comes on the heels of a beleaguered review process that did not consider many of the risks of the project.

Today’s recommendation is exactly as we expected given the way this panel approached the review,” Robyn Allan, former CEO of ICBC and economic risk expert, told DeSmog Canada. “It was simply set up as a way to get to yes.”

Christy Clark’s Hand-Picked Climate Team Voices Frustration at B.C.’s Lack of Climate Leadership in Open Letter

Seven members of Christy Clark’s hand-picked, blue-ribbon Climate Leadership Team are going public with their disappointment in the province’s lack of climate action in an open letter released Monday.

Signatories include noted environmental leader Tzeporah Berman, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, Chief Ian Campbell, professor of oceanography at the University of Victoria, Tom Pederson, B.C. associate director of the Pembina Institute, Matt Horne, Cayoose Creek Band chief, Michelle Edwards, professor Nancy Olewiler and executive director of Clean Energy Canada, Merran Smith.

The letter, addressed to Clark, states B.C. is in no position to shrug off the 32 recommendations made by the team last November in advance of the UN Paris Climate Talks. At the talks, Clark used the Climate Leadership Team’s work to bolster the province’s environmental credibility.

But the team itself is saying the B.C. Liberals have failed to implement the recommendations made by the group of experts. B.C has consistently pushed back the release date of a provincial climate plan.

The province, once an international leader in carbon pricing, has stalled action on climate by imposing a restriction on carbon pricing, creating loopholes for large industrial emitters and agressively advancing the creation of an LNG export industry. Compared to provinces like Ontario, which just announced $7 billion in funding for an ambitious climate plan, and Alberta, which announced an ambitious plan to phase out all coal-fired power plants last fall, B.C. is quickly falling behind.

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