1 May 2016 | West Coast Environmental Law

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May 2016

Addressing cumulative effects in BC's north

30 May, 2016

Today, in conjunction with the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI), West Coast Environmental Law is releasing our report Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment for Northern British Columbia: The Case and Opportunity.  The report offers an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of northern residents as they face a multitude of proposals for industrial development in their communities, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), forestry, mining, oil and gas, and hydroelectric projects.

Today, in conjunction with the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research (NWI), West Coast Environmental Law is releasing our report Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment for Northern British Columbia: The Case and Opportunity. The report offers an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of northern residents as they face a multitude of proposals for

How do we make the environment a top issue in Supernatural BC’s next election?

26 May, 2016

One year to go until BC’s next election - what role will defending our natural environment play? A recent poll from Insights West contains good and bad news for environmentally-minded voters, but nonetheless reminds us that the environment can and should play a major role in the coming election. Share your ideas in keeping the environment front and centre in the lead up to the election.

One year to go until BC’s next election - what role will defending our natural environment play? Read on to see what the polling is telling us, and to share your ideas in keeping the environment front and centre in the lead up to the election.

A recent poll from Insights West contains good and bad news for environmentally-minded voters, but nonetheless reminds us that the environment can and should play a major role in the coming election.

California mulling change to fossil fuel liability rules

24 May, 2016

We have predicted that governments would begin enacting new laws to address the liability of fossil fuel companies for their role in causing climate change. And now we can see a first example of such legislation being debated in California through the proposed Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act.

The Kinder Morgan roller coaster continues

24 May, 2016

It has been yet another whirlwind month on the Kinder Morgan file. Staff Counsel Eugene Kung takes us through six milestones from the month of May, ranging from a trip to "oil's heartland" in Texas to last week's unsurprising, yet disappointing NEB recommendation.

Kinder Morgan AGM


Photo credit: Reuben George (via Facebook)

Working towards a next-generation environmental assessment law for Canada

20 May, 2016

On May 1-3, West Coast Environmental Law hosted a Federal Environmental Assessment Reform Summit in Ottawa. Over 30 lawyers, academics and practitioners, representing universities, Indigenous and environmental groups and industry attended the Summit. They gathered to discuss, crystallize their thinking, weigh options and seek to find common ground on solutions to key issues in federal EA. Staff Counsel Anna Johnson shares her reflections on the Summit and Canada’s once-in-decades opportunity to enact a visionary new next-generation environmental assessment law for nature and democracy.

Rarely does environmental assessment get to be sexy.  While environmental assessment (EA) processes and decisions have been increasingly subject to lawsuits, criticism and protests, the target of dissent is usually either the project (say, Kinder Morgan’s controversial proposed oil sands pipeline) or the r

Learning from the land: Anishinaabe law camp at Walpole Island First Nation

17 May, 2016

Last month, Staff Counsel Hannah Askew traveled with Anishinaabe scholars John Borrows and Heidi Stark to Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario to assist with, and learn from, a four day Anishinaabe law camp. Hannah recounts the lessons she learned from the camp as well as lessons taught to her by Anishinaabe elders. 

Last month at the invitation of Professor Val Waboose and the Windsor Law Faculty, I traveled with Anishinaabe scholars John Borrows and Heidi Stark to Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario to assist with, and learn from, a four-day Anishinaabe law camp.  The camp was organized in part to fulfil Windsor Law’s commitment to implement Recommendation #28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Report which stat

Making a splash: Time for Canada to catch up as marine protected area networks take off around the world

16 May, 2016

Canadians love parks and wilderness. Banff, Nahanni, Algonquin, Gros Morne – these names are etched in our consciousness. Yet we’re less familiar with the grandeur and ecological wonders of Canada’s ocean world. It’s time to make a splash and make Canadians proud of this essential part of our natural heritage and life support system.

Photo credit: Bram Cymet.

Canadians love parks and wilderness. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna recently said the most popular item in the federal budget was free admission for Canadians to all national parks in 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. 

Buoyed by progress: Action coming soon on protecting the Great Bear Sea

16 May, 2016

The Great Bear Sea is the ocean alongside the Great Bear Rainforest.  Our new infographic “Protecting BC’s Coast” shows that it's complicated, but possible to increase protection for this unique ecosystem. With this in mind, we were buoyed by the government’s commitment to ramp up Canada’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network with an interim target of 5% of the ocean and coastal area by 2017, rising to protection of at least 10% by 2020.

The Great Bear Sea is the ocean alongside the Great Bear Rainforest. A photo essay in Maclean’s magazine by renowned wilderness photographer Ian McAllister showcases its sublime marine beauty. The colours dazzle: orange sea pens, bat stars, purple stars, morning sun stars, crimson anemones, and vibrant fish like the Irish sea lord. Forests of kelp as tall as a ten-storey building wave in the water.

Lawn care company explains why poor environmental enforcement creates an uneven playing field

11 May, 2016

Poor enforcement of environmental laws doesn’t just hurt our environment, and communities that depend on that environment. It also hurts law-abiding businesses – businesses that find themselves having to compete against counterparts who flout the law. 

Poor enforcement of environmental laws doesn’t just hurt our environment, and communities that depend on that environment. It also hurts law-abiding businesses – businesses that find themselves having to compete against counterparts who flout the law.

Not only #ExxonKnew about climate change, but its Canadian subsidiary #ImperialKnew too

5 May, 2016

New documents reveal that the Canadian oil company Imperial Oil knew in the 1970s or earlier that burning fossil fuels caused climate change. Similar documents in the U.S. have put Imperial’s parent company, Exxon Mobil, on the defensive, with multiple government investigations launched against the multi-national oil and gas cartel. These latest revelations add to the controversy, as well as giving it a Canadian dimension. 

As told in the U.S., this story has been largely about fraud – and fair enough: Exxon has been an active player in spreading climate disinformation. But even more fundamental than the question of knowingly misleading shareholders or the public is the question of whether it’s OK (whether you mislead anyone or not) to sell a product (and to make billions doing so) that you know will harm communities and destroy property.  If Exxon has known since the 1970s that its product will (for example) contribute to flooding coastal communities and worsen droughts, shouldn’t it have been hard at work helping us find alternatives? Can they pocket their hundreds of billions of dollars of profits without paying their fair share in preparing for and dealing with climate change impacts? How would the world be different if fossil fuel companies had been paying their fair share since the 1970s?

New documents reveal that the Canadian oil company Imperial Oil knew in the 1970s or earlier that burning fossil fuels caused climate change. Similar documents in the U.S. have put Imperial’s parent company, Exxon Mobil, on the defensive, with multiple government investigations launched against the multi-national oil and gas cartel.