Carol Linnitt

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Carol Linnitt is Managing Editor and Director of Research for DeSmog Canada. Carol is a writer and researcher focusing on energy development, environmental policy and wildlife. She joined DeSmog in June 2010 as a researcher, focusing much of her time on the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing.

Carol is the lead author of DeSmog's original report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health & Climate. Her work also led to the DeSmog micro-documentary CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story and the Cry Wolf investigative series.

Carol began her environmental career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity.

Carol has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural resource conflicts and Aboriginal rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria in the English and Cultural, Social and Political Thought programs.

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.”

Impact of B.C.’s First Major LNG Terminal on Salmon Superhighway Underestimated, Scientists and First Nations Warn

The B.C. government’s decision to build the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in the Skeena River estuary could have dramatic impacts on the second largest salmon population in Canada, potential affecting the constitutionally protected rights of at least 10 First Nations, a letter recently published in the prestigious journal Science argues.

The Pacific Northwest LNG export facility is proposed for Lelu Island, which adjoins Flora Bank, an eelgrass rich intertidal zone considered critical salmon habitat. The Skeena River estuary surrounding Lelu Island is considered a unique estuary system which acts as a nursery for hundreds of million of juvenile salmon each year.

The letter, co-authored by several scientists and fisheries experts from six First Nations in the affected region, says decision-makers considering the project, backed by Malaysian-owned gas giant Petronas, were uninformed of the ecological value of the estuary as a salmon nursery and its role in supporting salmon runs as far as 350 kilometres inland.

The authors argue the Canadian government did not sufficiently consider how the LNG terminal would affect inland First Nations.

Video: Fisheries Biologist Richard Holmes on the Mount Polley Mine Spill One Year Later

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Mount Polley mine spill, the largest mining disaster in Canadian history. On August 4, 2014 an estimated 24 million cubic metres of mining waste spilled from a failed tailings impoundment, flowing down the Hazeltine Creek into Quesnel Lake, a local source of drinking water and home to an estimated quarter of the province’s sockeye salmon.

DeSmog Canada spoke with local resident and fisheries biologist Richard Holmes to discuss the anniversary of the accident. Holmes said some members of his community are disappointed the mine hasn’t done more to repair the social and economic damage done to residents in the wake of the spill.

Although the Mount Polley mine, owned by Imperial Metals, has put an estimated $67 million into stabilizing the Hazeltine Creek, Holmes said the area resembles a “pretty ditch” that won’t be suitable fish habitat for at least two more years.

It’s disappointing,” Holmes said.

One Year In, Likely Residents Remain Frustrated with Superficial Cleanup of Mount Polley Mine Spill

Gary and Peggy Zorn lost their livelihood in the wake of the Mount Polley mining disaster one year ago today, the couple explained, after foreign tourists lost the desire to experience the region as a travel destination renowned for its wildlife.

Gary Zorn, adorned with the impressive title of “bear whisperer,” said their eco-tour grizzly-watching outfit lost hundreds of thousands of dollars the day the mine’s tailings pond breached sending as estimated 24 million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste down the Hazeltine Creek and into Quesnel Lake, a local source of drinking water.

The Zorns said in the year that has passed since the spill, the mine, owned by Imperial Metals, has only completed a superficial cleanup in the area, leaving a lingering stain on both the environment and the region’s reputation.

It’s pretty quiet here,” Gary Zorn said. “The businesses are suffering quite a bit here in Likely because of the damage the breach has done.”

It’s not just what the breach did environmentally to us; it’s what has happened with the bad publicity we got when this went around the world. That also hurt everybody here.”

Premiers Finalize National Energy Strategy That Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuels, Pipelines

Canada’s provincial leaders finalized the Canadian Energy Strategy Friday with a document many onlookers are criticizing as too reliant on traditional carbon-based sources of energy.

The strategy, intended to guide the integrated development of Canada’s energy resources across the provinces, places no restrictions on the release of greenhouse gas emissions and takes a proactive approach to building oil and gas pipelines.

According to officials who spoke with the Globe and Mail the strategy was meant to strike a balance between the energy ambitions of each province with growing concerns over global climate change.

We have a path to pursue two critical national priorities,” a senior Alberta official said, ”how are we going to keep building our energy industry and how are we going to address climate change?”

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