fracking

Thu, 2014-07-03 09:02Judith Lavoie
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Site C Dam is Final Straw for B.C.'s Treaty 8 First Nations

Treaty 8 Tribal Association Chief Liz Logan

The B.C. government cannot expect support from First Nations for its much-touted liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects if the province insists on steamrolling ahead with the Site C dam, a First Nations chief is warning.

They want support on LNG, and the level of destruction that is going to bring, and then they want Site C as well. They can’t have them both,” Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nation told DeSmog Canada.

There is no logical reason to have both, Willson added, saying the provincial government has ignored alternatives to Site C, even as the federal Joint Review Panel found there is no immediate need for the power and excess power would be sold at a loss.

Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. are vehemently opposed to BC Hydro’s plans to build a third massive dam on the Peace River that would flood more than 5,000 hectares of land, swamp more than 330 recorded archaeological sites and — in direct contravention of the 1899 treaty — destroy land now used for hunting, fishing and collecting medicinal plants.

Sat, 2014-06-14 12:35Guest
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Why Are Pipeline Spills Good For the Economy?

oil spill

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Energy giant Kinder Morgan was recently called insensitive for pointing out that “Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short- and long-term.” The company wants to triple its shipping capacity from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, in part by twinning its current pipeline. Its National Energy Board submission states, “Spill response and cleanup creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and cleanup service providers.”

It may seem insensitive, but it’s true. And that’s the problem. Destroying the environment is bad for the planet and all the life it supports, including us. But it’s often good for business. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico added billions to the U.S. gross domestic product! Even if a spill never occurred (a big “if”, considering the records of Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies), increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day would go hand-in-hand with rapid tar sands expansion and more wasteful, destructive burning of fossil fuels — as would approval of Enbridge Northern Gateway and other pipeline projects, as well as increased oil shipments by rail.

Thu, 2014-04-17 12:51Carol Linnitt
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B.C. Pulls About-Face After First Nations Call Removal of Gas Development Environmental Assessment a ‘Declaration of War’

fracking natural gas

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak has reversed and apologized for excluding First Nations from two amendments that would eliminate the province’s mandatory environmental assessment of gas developments and ski resorts.

As DeSmog Canada recently reported, the Orders in Council were passed without public consultation and would exclude major natural gas processing facilities and resorts from undergoing a standard environmental review and public consultation process.

The rescindment is a direct result of backlash from the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN),” Anna Johnston, staff counsel with West Coast Environmental Law Association, told DeSmog Canada. “Yesterday, at an LNG Summit hosted by the FNFN, they ‘drummed out’ government representatives due to the provincial government’s failure to consult with them on the Orders.”

B.C. officials were escorted from the forum on liquefied natural gas (LNG) after news of the eliminated environment assessments broke. At the forum, called “Striking a Balance,” Chief Sharleen Gale of the FNFN asked B.C. government officials to leave the room, saying “what I learned from my elders is you treat people kind. You treat people with respect…even when they’re stabbing you in the back.”

Tue, 2014-04-15 16:36Carol Linnitt
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B.C. Removes Mandatory Environmental Review of Natural Gas, Ski Resort Developments

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Major natural gas projects and ski resort developments now have the option of being built in B.C. without environmental assessment after the Liberal government quietly deposited two orders in council Monday. (Update April 17, 2014: The B.C. government has rescinded this decision. Read our new post here)

The orders — passed without public consultation — include changes to the Reviewable Projects Regulation under the provincial Environmental Assessment Act, which eliminate mandatory environmental review of new and/or modified natural gas and ski facilities. As a result, proposed projects like the Jumbo Glacier Resort or new natural gas processing facilities may skirt the approval process without standard environment review, which involves public consultation.

These regulatory changes only heighten the crisis of public confidence in B.C.’s environmental assessment process,” said Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior counsel with West Coast Environmental Law Association (WCEL) in a press release.

Tue, 2014-04-01 11:57Carol Linnitt
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All the Positive and Helpful Things in the IPCC Report No One Will Talk About

climate change, IPCC

If you’ve come across any of the recent headlines on the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, you’re probably feeling pretty low. The doom and gloom levels were off the charts. And understandably so. Major nations across the globe – especially Canada – are dragging their heels when it comes to climate change action. Canada, sadly, doesn’t have any climate legislation.

But maybe that’s because Canada was waiting for a group of the world’s most knowledgeable scientists to come up with a report for policy makers — you know, something to outline useful guidelines to keep in mind when looking to get your country out of the climate doghouse.

Well, Canada, you’re in luck. Here are some of the IPCC report’s most useful guidelines for responding to the multiple and growing threats of climate change:

Tue, 2014-03-25 09:50Guest
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Massive Shellfish Die-Off in B.C. Heralds a Future We Can and Must Avoid

scallop

This is a guest post by Caitlyn Vernon and Torrance Coste.

The February 25th headline, “10 million scallops are dead; company lays off staff,” hit British Columbians like a punch in the stomach. The shellfish industry has been an economic powerhouse on central Vancouver Island for decades, providing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue every year – over $30 million in average wholesale value. 

But when we talk about shellfish, we aren’t just talking jobs and economics. We are talking about food. Shellfish harvesting is one of our most robust local food systems, and the prospect of losing this industry makes us all feel, quite frankly, a little hungry.

Of the possible causes of the recent scallop die-off, ocean acidification seems the most likely. Ocean acidification is directly connected to climate change and to our runaway consumption of fossil fuels. In short, acidification occurs when carbon is absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere, making the water more acidic. Acidification strips the ocean of carbonate ions, which marine species like scallops and oysters need to build their shells, therefore reducing the ability of these species to survive.

Mon, 2014-03-10 14:21Emma Gilchrist
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Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee Taking B.C. Fracking Water Case to Supreme Court Next Week

Two B.C. environmental groups are taking the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission to court next week over practices they argue unlawfully permit oil and gas companies to use water.

Sierra Club B.C. and Western Canada Wilderness Committee — in documents filed with the Supreme Court of B.C.— argue the Oil and Gas Commission has been engaged in a “systemic” practice of issuing back-to-back “short-term” water approvals and call for permits issued to Encana to be quashed.

The case will be heard in the Supreme Court of B.C. in Vancouver on March 17 and 18.

Under the Water Act, if you want long-term access to water, you need a water licence,” says Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director with Sierra Club B.C.“What the Oil and Gas Commission is doing is granting consecutive short-term approvals to oil and gas companies.”

The case centres around water approvals under Section 8 of B.C.’s Water Act, which governs short-term use and diversion of water for up to 24 months.

By requesting and analyzing Section 8 water approvals going back seven years, Sierra Club B.C. and the Wilderness Committee — represented by lawyers from Ecojustice — determined the approvals were being given to the same companies for consecutive terms.

Thu, 2014-02-27 09:04Derek Leahy
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NWT Residents Demand Environmental Reviews Before Fracking Is Permitted

fracking NWT

Residents of the Northwest Territories are demanding environmental reviews be conducted before companies are permitted to ‘frack’ for oil in the NWT. Despite controversy in Canada and other countries around the effects fracking or hydraulic fracturing has on water and climate change, the NWT’s first fracking project was approved last October without an environmental assessment.

We can’t let another fracking project dodge an environmental assessment,” says Lois Little of the Council of Canadians NWT chapter.

There is a lot of international concern about the environmental and social impacts of fracking,” says Ben McDonald, spokesperson for Alternatives North, a social justice coalition in NWT. “The moratoriums on fracking in the U.S. and eastern Canada are in place for good reasons.”

The Council of Canadians, Alternatives North along with Ecology North have launched a petition calling on the NWT government to refer fracking projects to environmental assessments that include public hearings from now on. Signatures will be collected until March 7th when the petition will be delivered to the NWT legislative assembly. Two hundred and fifty NWT residents have signed the petition.

Thu, 2014-02-20 11:46Carol Linnitt
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CNRL Releases New, Lower Cold Lake Oil Spill Estimates

bitumen emulsion oil spill at CNRL Primrose CSS site in the Alberta oilsands

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has released new figures tallying the total volume of bitumen emulsion recovered at the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) Primrose site in Cold Lake, Alta. The new total — 1,177 cubic metres or 1.1 million litres — is more than a third lower than previously reported amounts.

An earlier incident report from November 14, 2013, states more than 1,878 cubic metres of emulsion was recovered at the four separate release sites, where the mixture of bitumen and water had been leaking uncontrollably into the surrounding environment for several months without explanation. That's enough liquid to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool three-quarters of the way full.

CNRL's July 31, 2013, statement (pdf), released to investors just over one month after the leaks were reported to the AER, said that within the first month of cleanup, 1,000 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion had been collected.

Scientist Kevin Timoney, who's authored several reports on the CNRL leaks, said the reported figures just don't add up.

The bottom line is, how do you go from essentially 1,900 cubic metres, which is what you get if you listen to the president of CNRL when he was talking in January, down to 1,177 cubic metres. How does that happen?” Timoney said. “And nobody has answered that.”

Tue, 2014-02-11 11:57Derek Leahy
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Ontario Approves Importing U.S. Fracked Gas

The Ontario Energy Board’s approval of three natural gas projects last week puts the province’s plans to significantly reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint in jeopardy.

The ruling also gives Ontario the green light to import controversial shale gas from the U.S. This type of gas is trapped in rock-like shale and is extracted using a process called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which involves pumping a chemical mix underground at high temperatures to break apart the rock and free the gas. The practice has caused controversy worldwide due to fracking chemicals and methane contaminating drinking water.

So often we see approvals given to pipeline and fossil fuel projects without a real understanding of the broader and long-term impacts on climate, water and public health,” says Emma Lui, a water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

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