Environment Canada

Mon, 2014-06-16 13:48Mike De Souza
Mike De Souza's picture

Canadian Government Suggests Oilsands Toxins Similar to 'BBQ'ed Steak'

Suncor Energy oilsands mine

This is a guest post by Mike De Souza. It originally appeared on mikedesouza.com and is republished here with permission. 

Ten days ago, I asked Environment Canada whether any of its scientists would be available for interviews about their research.

The department hasn’t yet answered this question along with others.

The questions arose following the publication of a new study concluding that deposits of toxic mercury were forming a bull’s eye around oilsands operations in Alberta.

The scientists who did the research from Environment Canada were previously discouraged from talking about their work at a science conference in 2011, according to documents released through access to information legislation.

Those documents included a script that suggested they downplay human health impacts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxin that can originate from smokestacks in oilsands facilities or other industrial development, by comparing it to food fit for consumption.

If pressed on human health (say that) these (oilsands) substances are also found in BBQ’ed steak,” said the script, which was shared with the offices of former natural resources minister Joe Oliver – now the finance minister – and former environment minister Peter Kent, who is still sitting as a Conservative MP.

Wed, 2014-05-28 08:52Mike De Souza
Mike De Souza's picture

Government Weather Forecasters Shouldn't Discuss Climate Change: Environment Canada

Weathergirl Goes Rogue

This post originally appeared on MikeDeSouza.com and is republished here with permission.

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

Environment Canada made the comments in response to e-mailed questions about its communications policy.

The department defended its policy by suggesting that Environment Canada meteorologists — among the most widely quoted group of government experts in media reports and broadcasts — weren’t qualified to answer questions about climate change.

Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,” said spokesman Mark Johnson in an e-mail. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.”

Fri, 2014-05-02 08:56Erika Thorkelson
Erika Thorkelson's picture

Fracking Data Woefully Lacking in Canada, Finds Federal Report

Fracking BC

There is simply not enough reliable information to be confident about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, according to a new report released by the Council of Canadian Academies.

The report, commissioned by Environment Canada, takes a broad view of the implications of “fracking,” from possible contamination of land and water to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to human health and social impacts. It identified several key areas of concern, particularly that pathways created by leakage of natural gas from “improperly formed, damaged or deteriorated cement seals” may contaminate ground water and increase GHG emissions.

Wed, 2014-03-12 12:58Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

More than 1000 Jobs Lost, Climate Program Hit Hard in Coming Environment Canada Cuts

Alberta oilsands tar sands Kris Krug

Last year the Harper government’s decision to gut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) led to the deft and unceremonious firing of more than 1,000 federal employees, many of them researchers, lab technicians and experts crucial to Canada’s understanding of marine science. Frontline stories of tearful staff meetings, where the devastating news was delivered en masse, convinced many Canadians we were in the midst of what is now popularly known as the ‘War on Science.’

That storyline continues today after a new Environment Canada report outlines the department’s plan to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs, a disproportionate amount of which will come from the climate change division.

The ‘plans and priorities’ report shows the department will reduce spending from more than $1 billion in 2014-2015 to $698.8 million in 2016-2017, reports the Toronto Star.

In addition program spending for Environment Canada’s climate change and clean air program will be reduced from $234.2 million in 2014-2015 to $54.8 million in 2016-2017.

Full-time equivalent jobs will drop from 6,400 this year to 5,348 in 2016-2017.

Thu, 2014-02-27 09:04Derek Leahy
Derek Leahy's picture

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.

Mon, 2013-12-30 18:48Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Environment Minister Scrapped Public Statement Saying Climate Change is Human-Caused and “Serious,” Internal Documents Show

A proposed public statement that acknowledged humans were “mostly responsible for climate change” and that Environment Canada took this threat “seriously” was dropped by environment minister Leona Aglukkaq in favour of a watered-down partisan message that made no meaningful mention of the issue of climate change, new documents show. The proposed statement, drafted for the release of the 2013 assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was released to Postmedia’s Mike De Souza through access to information legislation.

The internal documents were a part of a larger Environment Canada communications strategy designed to raise awareness about climate change and the link between fossil fuel consumption and global warming, reports De Souza.

Thu, 2013-12-12 12:53Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Environment Canada Letter to Federal Scientists Acknowledges 22 per cent of Interviews Denied in 2013

Image from PSICS The Big Chill of muzzling of scientists

An open letter to Environment Canada staff from Deputy Minister Bob Hamilton and Associate Deputy Minister Andrea Lyon says science done at the department has become an “issue…receiv[ing] attention recently,” prompting the letter to provide official “perspective” on the matter.

Throughout 2013 22 per cent of media requests for interviews with scientists were denied while requests in the past five months have increased by 50 per cent, the letter states. In total Environment Canada received just 316 media requests in 2013, of which 246 (78 per cent) were approved.

Climate scientist at the University of Victoria and Green party MLA Andrew Weaver says the fact that Environment Canada is giving such a small amount of interviews is “shameful.”

If a federal organization, comprising thousands of scientists across the country is giving 246 media interview in a year, that’s not too dissimilar to what I was doing as an individual faculty member at the University of Victoria,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. That’s way down from what it used to be.”

Wed, 2013-11-20 10:50Erin Flegg
Erin Flegg's picture

Industry Should Cover Social Cost of Oilsands, Experts Say

tar sands kris krug canada unburnable carbon

It was less than six months ago that a handful of energy companies resorted to selling off portions of their stake in the oil patch after failing to garner the kind of investor support they needed to fund major projects.

The costs of development in the oilsands is increasing due to material and labour shortages in Alberta and limited real estate. According to reports by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, the industry is effectively innovating itself out of the labour market, expanding beyond what the available pool of skilled labour can support.

Development costs are also escalating as the environmental toll of extracting and upgrading tar-like bitumen from the region has put both policy makers and the public on edge.

Jean-Michel Gires, the former CEO of the Canadian unit of France's Total SA, says crude from the oilsands is “among the most expensive oil” in the world to produce. Yet, development continues, leading some experts to claim that the oilsands costly production still doesn't accurately reflect the true costs associated with the resource.

Fri, 2013-08-30 14:52Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

1.2 Million Litres and Counting: Feds Launch Investigation into CNRL’s Ongoing Oil Spill

cold lake bitumen tar sand oil spill primrose project CNRL

It has been three months since the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) first reported on the subsurface spills occurring at Canada Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) operations on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, 300 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. Yesterday Environment Canada told Postmedia’s Mike De Souza that the federal department “is currently assessing the situation with respect to federal environmental laws within its jurisdiction, and has opened an investigation.”

The underground leaks, discovered on four separate well pads, have been releasing a mixture of bitumen emulsion – a mixture of oil and water – uncontrollably since at least May, although AER reports suggest the spill has been ongoing for much longer. The regulator forced CNRL to suspend its high pressure cyclic steam stimulation (HPCSS) operations in one project area “earlier this year,” according to an AER incident report released in July.

Fri, 2013-08-23 18:40Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Natural Resources Canada Makes Huge Fuss to Suppress Release of Emissions Story - For One Hour

mike de souza silenced by natural resources canada
Today Postmedia News journalist Mike De Souza released an article on Environment Canada's missing annual emissions report
 
He writes “the federal government ins't answering questions about what's holding up the release of an annual report on Canada's progress in fighting climate change - an analysis normally released in mid-summer.” 
 
The annual inventory of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions is the definitive measure of the nation's carbon footprint and emissions trajectory based on previously reported years.
 
Environment Canada, the federal body responsible for the report, told De Souza “no release date had been set.” 
 
De Souza's article, published on www.canada.com this afternoon was forced offline by Natural Resources Canada, however, because it was reportedly published too early. The debacle, made public on twitter by David Provencher, Press Secretary to Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, was resolved when the article resurfaced online around 2:20pm EST.

Pages

Subscribe to Environment Canada