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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.

8 December, 2016

Understandably, those opposed to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project have not been in a mood to celebrate this past week. At the same time as the Prime Minister announced the federal government’s approval of Kinder Morgan (and the Enbridge Line 3 project), he confirmed something that most people already knew to be true: the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is dead. In addition to rejecting Northern Gateway, last week the federal government also provided preliminary details on oil tanker ban legislation that it will introduce in spring 2017.

The fact that First Nations, communities and individual citizens who opposed Northern Gateway were successful in stopping the project, even in the face of a previous federal approval and a determined pipeline company with deep pockets, deserves a moment of reflection.

6 December, 2016

Staff Counsel Eugene Kung recounts an action-packed week preparing for – and responding to – the federal government's approval of the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline and tankers proposal.

1 December, 2016

The thing that frustrated me most when watching the Prime Minister’s press conference earlier this week approving the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines is that he – or at least his government – knows that these pipelines undermine Canada’s climate goals and move us away from a sustainable future. 

That’s pretty clear from the government’s “mid-century long term strategy” on climate change, released on the last day of the Marrakech climate negotiations (Friday, November 18th).

24 November, 2016

Many Canadians who care about nature, democracy and Indigenous rights will recognize the name Bill C-38 – the omnibus budget bill from 2012 that dramatically weakened environmental protection under federal laws such as the Fisheries Act.

But did you know that Parliament debated another Bill C-38 almost forty years ago, led by the father of our current Fisheries Minister? The debates around this important bill from 1977 are presciently relevant today.

16 November, 2016

Canadian law and policy restricts the involvement of charities in public debate and public policy development – activities labeled by the Canada Revenue Agency as “political activities”. Limiting charities’ involvement in public debate and public policy development silences the voices of Canadians who rely on the charities they support to advance systemic solutions to social and environmental problems they could not achieve alone.

The federal government has recently launched an online consultation on charities’ political activities. They need to hear from you about the problems with Canada’s charitable laws, and about recommendations for reform. You can have your say online until November 25th.

16 November, 2016

West Coast Staff Counsel Eugene Kung sat down with Senior Communications and Engagement Specialist Alexis Stoymenoff to discuss the recent report released by the Ministerial Panel on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project. Here’s what Eugene had to say about the report, and the six key questions it poses in advance of a decision from the federal Cabinet.

14 November, 2016

As the deadline approaches for a federal decision on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, West Coast Environmental Law Staff Counsel Gavin Smith reflects on his meetings with Ministers to talk about the Pacific north coast oil tanker ban.

10 November, 2016

In June 2016, the government announced a sweeping review of federal environmental laws – including Canada's environmental assessment (EA) law and processes, the Fisheries Act, Navigation Protection Act, and National Energy Board. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape Canada’s environmental laws and to contribute to decisions that affect land, air, water and the climate.

We’ve put together a set of online resources to help you understand these important federal reviews, including key information about timelines, law reform priorities and ways you can get involved.

25 October, 2016

In the face of a disaster like the Mount Polley mine disaster, swift action is essential to send a message to industry that breaking environmental laws will not be tolerated. In this case, when the government failed to act in a timely manner, MiningWatch Canada brought a private prosecution to enforce Canada’s environmental laws. West Coast Environmental Law’s Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund provided financial support for this important legal action.

20 October, 2016

The report from the Ministerial Panel on Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline project is expected on November 1, 2016. This report will be considered by Federal Cabinet in its upcoming decision on the project, along with the upstream greenhouse gas analysis, the flawed National Energy Board report, and any further information arising from First Nations consultation.

The process moved quickly and its summer meetings were not without controversy, including allegations of conflict of interest and imposition of a tight timeline without input from or adequate notice to First Nations. The Panel also seemed ill-prepared to deal with the breadth and depth of participants.

What remains to be seen is how the Ministerial Panel will deal with the tens of thousands of messages and questionnaire responses in its final report- much of which it tried to reject arbitrarily. Beyond that, how Prime Minister Trudeau will incorporate all of this information into his decision in December. Will he maintain his position that “only communities grant permission?” Or will he approve the project in the face of strong opposition?