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Environmental Law Alert Blog

Through our Environmental Law Alert blog, West Coast alerts you to environmental law problems and developments affecting British Columbians. It is the public voice of our Environmental Law Alert unit which is a legal “watchdog” for BC’s environment.

If you have an environmental story that we should hear about, please e-mail Andrew Gage. Also, please feel free to comment on any of the posts to this blog – but please keep in mind our policies on comments.

24 July, 2015

In May I spent time with colleagues from the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research in Treaty 8 territory in northeastern BC listening to Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents talk about the cumulative effects of development projects on the health of their land and communities.  Over the past few decades the region has experienced an unprecedented level of industrial activity, including mining, clear cutting, roadbuilding, dam construction, oil and gas development, and waste disposal.  In order to help us better understand the impacts of all these projects on the ground, our friend Bud Napoleon, who is a member of Saulteau First Nation, took us out in his truck into the mountains for a few days.

23 July, 2015

This week West Coast Environmental Law held a meeting “Go With the Flow: Meeting on Regulations for the BC Water Sustainability Act” with allies in the conservation world to discuss our Expectations for the next critical phase of the BC Water Sustainability Act –the development of the regulations that will make the Act effective.

22 July, 2015

Staff Counsel Anna Johnston participated in the 10th annual Paddle for the Peace, a community event that brought hundreds of people along with canoes and kayaks to paddle down the Peace River in protest of the controversial Site C dam. 

21 July, 2015

A group of law student volunteers created a website that features summaries of the evidence submitted by intervenors in the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion proposal. Their goal: to increase information accessibility and to help open up the process. 

20 July, 2015

The eighteen legal challenges to the federal government’s approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers project are scheduled to be heard together in Vancouver this October, setting the stage for a historic legal battle to protect the environment and Aboriginal rights. West Coast Environmental Law staff counsel Gavin Smith and student volunteer Justine Desmond explain the main arguments at play in this storm of court challenges.

17 July, 2015

We have suggested that BC's new water rates are too low - an assessment shared by the signatories to a SumofUs.org petition signed by 225,000 people. As a result, the BC government has commited to review its water rates. But with former MLA Judy Tyabji suggesting that we warned against higher water rates in a 1999 opinion, we want to clarify that there is room to increase water rates dramatically without running afoul of NAFTA or other trade agreements.

16 July, 2015

On June 18, the West Coast Environmental Law Association hosted a telephone town hall on what the rolling back of Canada's environmental laws means for oil tankers and the health and security of BC's coast.

Hundreds of people heard from panelists Robyn Allan, former President and CEO of ICBC, intervenor in the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project environmental assessment, and former intervenor in the environmental assessment of Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline and tankers expansion project; marine ecologist Craig Orr; and environmental lawyer Anna Johnston.

Read on to learn about what they had to say about the regulatory framework, the National Energy Board's environmental assessment process and the environmental and health threats that the Kinder Morgan project poses, and listen to a recording of the town hall

1 July, 2015

Guest bloggers Allison Russell and Emily Beveridge from Rana Law explain lawsuits by a group of Treaty 8 First Nations against the federal and BC governments’ approvals of the Site C Dam in the Peace River Valley of northeastern BC.

26 June, 2015

In the recent Dutch court decision ordering the Dutch government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2020, the court made some specific findings that might be relevant to Canada and the Canadian government. Here's 5 of the most Canada-relevant findings from that precedent setting decision. 

26 June, 2015

Earlier this week (June 24th) a Dutch court ordered the Dutch government to ramp up its climate change plans – to achieve at least a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels by the end of 2020. It’s an incredible win – one that is being rightly celebrated by climate activists around the world. In our view, the Dutch decision is a key win in global efforts to use the courts to fight climate change, and will encourage climate activists around the world.  However, court cases filed in countries around the world – including Canada – will need to be based in the legal traditions of those countries, and won’t necessarily be a carbon copy of the Dutch case.