1 March 2017 | West Coast Environmental Law

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March 2017

Wresting authority from the regulators: The proper role of the National Energy Board in environmental assessments

31 March, 2017

It is not every day that we have an opportunity to effect transformative legal change. It is natural, then, that when last summer a number of cabinet ministers announced the review of four key federal environmental laws, West Coast Environmental Law – along with other lawyers, academics, environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and the general public – took a keen interest. Through these reviews we have an opportunity to not only strengthen environmental processes and substantive legal protections, but to also transform the governance of environmental planning and decision-making.

This opportunity is perhaps most pronounced in the reviews of federal environmental assessment processes and the National Energy Board (NEB). Currently, two out of the three federal bodies who are responsible authorities for environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 – the NEB and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) – are regulators.

This column was originally published on Slaw – Canada's online legal magazine.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way – Canada’s commitment to marine protected areas

28 March, 2017

“Canadian governments can and must do much more to protect Canadian ecosystems and biodiversity,” says the latest report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development – a must-read for anyone concerned about biodiversity protection in Canada. Staff Counsel Linda Nowlan breaks down the Committee’s recommendations, and how they could help ramp up marine protection on the Pacific coast.


Photo: Ray Morris via Flickr.

“Canadian governments can and must do much more to protect Canadian ecosystems and biodiversity,” says the latest report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development – a must-read for anyone concerned about biodiversity protection in Canada.

Identifying Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Areas – a red herring?

23 March, 2017

Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel – the marine area between Vancouver Island, Denman Island and Hornby Island – has been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) because of its importance as spawning habitat for herring. But does that mean it gets any extra protection?

Marine Campaigner Maryann Watson explains what's really needed to protect this special area, highlighting the disconnect between scientific research and decisions around ocean management.


Photo: Pacific herring (Tavish Campbell)

While for many people budding trees and bulbs signal the return of spring, for coastal ecosystems and communities in British Columbia the changing of seasons is marked by the annual spawning of Pacific herring.

The climate crisis: It's not your fault after all

15 March, 2017

Many of us feel some pressure, or even guilt, about our environmental footprint and our role in creating climate change. Climate campaigner Anjali Appadurai breaks down this common narrative and points to the need to hold Big Oil accountable for the much bigger part it has played in creating and perpetuating the climate crisis.

The Climate Law in Our Hands initiative aims to hold major fossil fuel corporations legally and financially accountable for their role in creating the global climate crisis. This is no easy task!

A solemn promise: Indigenous perspectives on the Douglas Treaties

15 March, 2017

West Coast's RELAW Project Lead Maxine Hayman Matilpi shares stories from a recent conference that brought together historians, legal scholars and Indigenous people who are direct descendants of the signatories to the Vancouver Island Treaties (aka Douglas Treaties). The topic spurred rich conversations about the ways Indigenous people view land and resources, as well as what it means to live under these treaties today.

Artwork by Isaac Murdoch.

Alright Vancouver Island peeps. Listen up:

Back to schools: Canada’s fish happy with new report, look forward to amended law

13 March, 2017

Fish across Canada breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the top recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and Oceans’ report reviewing the Fisheries Act: to reinstate strong habitat protection for fish.

Fish across Canada breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the top recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and Oceans’ report reviewing the Fisheries Act: to reinstate strong habitat protection for fish.

A Kinder Morgan snapshot

14 March, 2017

It’s been a while since we’ve updated you about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion project (KMX). A lot has happened in the past few months, so here’s a snapshot of where we’re at.

It’s been a while since we’ve updated you about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion project (KMX). A lot has happened in the past few months, so here’s a snapshot of where we’re at:

Political approvals

Inviting local governments to demand climate accountability

10 March, 2017

On Thursday, February 23, Staff Counsel Andrew Gage appeared before the City of Victoria’s Mayor, Lisa Helps, and its Council to talk about climate accountability. This is just one of many conversations we’re having with city councils, councillors, municipal staff and others following up on our January 25, 2017 letter about climate accountability

As part of that discussion, we’ve unveiled a new resource – Climate Accountability Letters: An introduction for local governments – which explains why local government must step up to the plate.

 Victoria City Hall. (Photo: Herb Neufeld)

On Thursday, February 23, I appeared before the City of Victoria’s Mayor, Lisa Helps, and its Council to talk about climate accountability.

Sign the Mount Polley petition to demand accountability

9 March, 2017

MiningWatch needs your help to ensure accountability for the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster. In late 2016 the mining watchdog launched a private prosecution (with the help of our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund), but the federal government is now trying to stay the charges. You can help by signing this petition asking Prime Minister Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc to make sure the prosecution proceeds.