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environmental assessment

Widening (even further) the hole in federal fish protection: Canada’s proposed Fisheries Act Regulations

19 March, 2014

British Columbians are no strangers to environmental deregulation. The early aughts, which for decades prior were heralded as likely to usher in electric cars and other signs of eco-enlightenment, instead saw a thorough dismantling of the province’s environmental regime, with the BC government repealing or weakening a range of environmental laws, regulations and programs.

Click here to send a letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Dear President Obama: In Canada climate change affects none of our decisions

21 February, 2014

When U.S. President Obama met with Prime Minister Harper earlier this week, he highlighted the importance of considering climate change in key energy decisions, like the Keystone XL, but was polite enough not to highlight that Canadian energy decisions do their best to ignore climate change.  The reality is that building fossil fuel infrastructure, and dramatically expanding the oil sands, cannot be divorced from the consequences of those actions.  Canadians would all benefit from a decision-making framework that transparently and realistically assessed the costs of the fossil fuel future that we are building.  Right now our government seems to be tallying up the benefits side of the equation, but ignoring the costs side. 

When U.S.

Strict timelines for environmental assessments, but not for government

14 February, 2014

It feels a bit like déjà vu. Once again we’re faced with a federal government study that was highly relevant to the environmental assessment of the Enbridge pipelines and tankers project, but which was not considered in the assessment because it was released too late.  Like an earlier Environment Canada report, this Transport Canada report is highly relevant to the issues that were before the Enbridge JRP.  In fact, the Transport Canada report directly considers the marine risks posed by Enbridge’s pipelines and tankers proposal, concluding for example that Enbridge’s project would raise the Environmental Risk Index rating for the nearshore zones in the vicinity from “very low” to “very high.”  In circumstances where there are significant risks, uncertainties or other complicating factors, hard and fast cookie-cutter timelines for environmental assessments can do the Canadian public a disservice.  This is well-demonstrated by the federal government’s apparent inability to meet its own deadlines in the Enbridge JRP scenario with regard to the Transport Canada and Environment Canada reports. 

It feels a bit like déjà vu. 

Once again we’re faced with a federal government study that was highly relevant to the environmental assessment of the Enbridge pipelines and tankers project, but which was not considered in the assessment because it was released too late.

B.C. residents remain strongly opposed to Enbridge’s oil tanker and pipeline proposal

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Victoria, B.C. – According to a recent poll by Justason Market Intelligence, nearly two-thirds of British Columbians (64 per cent) oppose Enbridge’s proposal to transport crude oil through B.C.'s northern inside coastal waters.

Fifty per cent strongly oppose the proposal as compared to only 12 per cent who strongly support.

Why the NEB downplayed the impact of a major bitumen spill

29 January, 2014

So how did the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) considering Enbridge’s proposed pipelines and tankers project conclude that a catastrophic spill of diluted bitumen (untreated oil sands oil, diluted so that it can be transported by pipe) on BC’s North Coast would only have a short-term impact on the environment? We suggest that the Enbridge JRP report is illustrative of two concerns that we’ve raised about changes to Canada’s environmental assessment laws:

  • Having environmental assessments done by the National Energy Board (NEB) undermines the potential for an unbiased and independent assessment;
  • Putting in place rigid timelines discourages assessing risks up front (which is the purpose of environmental assessment) and may result in environmental assessments being done on the basis of incomplete scientific information. 

In our view the process has been anything but the “science-based” process that Prime Minister Harper promised Canadians. The reality is that social licence can’t be rushed, and weak environmental laws hurt, rather than help, industry. As First Nations and others line up to challenge the Enbridge Pipeline in court, and as Enbridge continues to find itself unable to secure customers, that reality is increasingly clear.  

What to make of the conclusion, courtesy of the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) considering Enbridge’s proposed pipelines and tankers project, that a catastrophic spill of diluted bitumen (untreated oil sands oil, diluted so that it can be transported by pipe) on BC’s North Coast would only have a short-term impact on the environment?  And, as if to emphasize the questions raised by that conclusion, less than a month after the report was released, Environment Canada released a report confirming that spills of diluted bitumen – which Enbridge&rsq

"Not In Your Breadbasket"

17 January, 2014

Finding consensus among British Columbians on the controversial Site C dam that BC Hydro is seeking to build on the Peace River is challenging.  But one thing that can’t be disputed is our need of food. Call it a universal truth: we need to eat. And so this week I went to Fort St. John to help residents, farmers and citizen groups protect regional and provincial food security against plans by the BC Hydro to flood almost 16,000 acres of farmlands for the sake of industrial development and energy exports.

Peace River, BC. Photo courtesy of the Picture BC website www.picturebc.ca.

Fisheries Act amendments brought into force despite widespread opposition

Monday, November 25, 2013

Former fisheries ministers, scientists and public concerned changes will hurt fish and local economies

VANCOUVER – Today, after an almost 18 month delay, Canada is bringing into force changes to the federal Fisheries Act that have faced widespread and persistent opposition and First Nations’ legal challenges since they were introduced in last year’s omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45.

Why Anna’s going to Washington

15 October, 2013

Recently we asked our readers to write to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to talk about their concerns with the Canadian government’s actions in dismantling our environmental laws in omnibus budget bills (Bills C-38 and C-45).  Well, now we’re taking those concerns to Washington, DC to attend the CEC’s public conference, to meet with members of the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) and to press the Canadian government not to bring into force the worst of the changes to our Fisheries Act.  Here’s a recorded statement from Anna Johnston, our staff lawyer, about why she’s going to Washington, and what she’s going to tell the CEC when she gets there.

Recently we asked our readers to write to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to talk about their concerns with the Canadian government’s actions in dismantling our environmental laws in omnibus budget bills (Bills C-38 and C-45).  Well, now we’re taking those concerns to Washington, DC to attend the CEC’s public conference, to meet with members of the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) and to press the Canadian government not to bring into force the worst of the changes to our Fishe

Mining the Family Farm

9 September, 2013

BC’s archaic mining laws have a real cost for BC communities, their environment and their economies. This blog post is the first in a series that highlights the stories of a wide variety of people and places in BC that have felt first-hand the negative impacts of our outdated, gold-rush era mining laws.

During the gold rush, as thousands of prospectors made their way to the west, early colonial legislation gave them a right of “free entry” to most lands in the colony, and established a system for them to acquire mineral rights by “staking a claim”. Over 150 years later, the presence of mineral claims, new or historical, still gives mining activity priority over virtually all other land uses in BC...

BC’s archaic mining laws have a real cost for BC communities, their environment and their economies. This blog post is the first in a series that highlights the stories of a wide variety of people and places in BC that have felt first-hand the negative impacts of our outdated, gold-rush era mining laws.

Public consultation period on LNG project extended after company and federal government caught using map missing major BC river

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vancouver – The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has agreed to extend a public comment period in the assessment of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project near Prince Rupert after environmental groups pointed out that the map submitted by the proponent and used in several public notices completely left out the Skeena River, BC’s second largest river.

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