Carol Linnitt's blog

July 2015 is Officially Hottest Month on Record. Ever.

Raging wildfires and apocalyptic smoke. Huge algal blooms visible from space turn seafood on the Pacific Northwest toxic. California’s drought. Alberta’s drought. Alberta’s floods.

There’s no doubt: it’s hot and weird out.

According to officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) July was the hottest month ever recorded, putting 2015 well on track to beat out 2014 for the hottest year on record. Records date back to 1880.

NOAA climate scientists Jake Crouch said the new data “just affirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming.”

The warming is accelerating and we’re seeing it this year.”

New Water Use Restrictions Highlight Influence of Climate on Oilsands, Need for Stronger Rules

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is restricting water withdrawals for oil and gas operators in several river basins across the province due to extremely dry summer conditions and low water levels.

Ontario Energy Board Report Highlights Risks of Energy East Pipeline in New Report

A new report released Thursday by the Ontario Energy Board finds the risks of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, destined to carry Alberta oilsands crude to eastern refineries and export facilities, outweigh the project’s benefits.

The board’s vice-president, Peter Fraser, said the report, prepared at the request of Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, finds “an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the project and the expect benefits for Ontarians.”

The Energy East pipeline, projected to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, is the continent’s largest proposed pipeline, outsizing the company’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has become a political boondoggle in the U.S. in recent years due to growing concerns over oil spills, private property and climate.

The Ontario Energy Board traveled to communities along the pipeline route to gauge public sentiment about the project and, according to the report, found fears over potential water pollution running high throughout the province.

Stephen Harper Forgets Stephen Harper’s Pledge to End Fossil Fuels

If the recent frufrah over NDP candidate Linda McQuaig’s comment that “a lot of the oilsands oil may have to stay in the ground” is indicative of anything, it’s that Canada’s election cycle is in full spin. May all reasonableness and sensible dialogue and accountability be damned.

Perhaps that’s the blunt and singular reason behind the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s outrage at McQuaig’s entirely non-contentious assertion that, because of our international commitments to curtail global climate change, Canada won’t exploit the entirety of its oil reserves.

Harper accused the NDP of having a “not-so hidden agenda,” saying the party “is consistently against the development of our resources and our economy.”

That’s why they…would wreck this economy if they ever got in, and why they must never get into power in this country.”

But Harper’s reaction seems conspicuously overwrought given the Prime Minister’s own pledge, along with the other G7 nations, to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2100.

At the time of signing — a whole two months ago — Harper said the plan would “require a transformation in our energy sectors.”

Nova Scotia Pulls Plug on World’s First Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff

A popular feed-in tariff program in Nova Scotia is being cancelled by the provincial government, according to a recent announcement stating the program “had achieved its objectives.”

The program, the Nova Scotia community feed-in tariff (COMFIT), was the world’s first feed-in tariff system for local energy producers plugging into the grid.

COMFIT was designed to provide an incentive for independent, community-based energy production and guaranteed a stable kilowatt-hour rate for energy fed back into the provincial grid from local renewable energy projects.

As the province describes it, through COMFIT “smaller producers are able to supply renewable energy to their specific community.” But now “no new COMFIT applications will be considered.”

The Climate News Network argues the decision will negatively impact both Nova Scotians and the climate.

The decision, which will initially mean lower prices for energy users, is at odds with widespread warnings that renewable energy must rapidly replace fossil fuels.”

“They’re Getting Away with It”: Locals Say No Blame Means No Compensation for Mount Polley Mine Spill Victims

Mount Polley Mine Spill

Whether it was an act of God or the fault of negligent mine operators, the cause of Mount Polley mine spill — the worst mining disaster in Canadian history — remains officially undetermined, leaving local residents in a frustrated state of limbo.

One year ago this week the Mount Polley mine tailings impoundment collapsed, sending a catastrophic 24 million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste down the Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake, a local source of drinking water and in peak years can host up to 60 per cent of the province’s sockeye salmon run.

The province of B.C. says the Mount Polley Mining Corporation, owned by Imperial Metals, is still under investigation although some fear a January report that found glacial silt responsible for the instability of the collapsed tailings pond may take culpability away from the company.

Kanahus Manuel, a local indigenous activist and member of the Secwepemc First Nation, said the province’s decision to approve a partial re-opening of the Mount Polley mine last month signals to the media and the public that the company is without blame.

The province giving the permit to Mount Polley was very irresponsible,” she said. “Mount Polley still under investigation and they haven’t cleaned up this disaster.”

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