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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.

23 September, 2014

Last week Nobel Peace Prize winner, and one of the spiritual leaders of our time, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on governments to make fossil fuel companies pay for the climate damages that their product is causing. Although international negotiations are beginning to look at this issue, the possibility of compensation has not been much discussed by the public. Taxpayers have by in large accepted the need for government to pay compensation to the victims of extreme weather events or flooding without recognizing the need to have major greenhouse gas polluters pay their share. But when an individual of the stature of Archbishop Tutu begins including climate compensation as a key part of the solution to climate change, we have to wonder, is this changing?

19 September, 2014

WCEL is honoured to have partnered with Lummi Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation to help deliver a 21 foot western red cedar totem pole carved by master carver Jewell James and the Lummi House of Tears Carvers to the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in recognition of, and solidarity with their fight. I was privileged to be a part of this incredible journey which traveled 10,000 kms through South Dakota, Montana, Washington, BC and Alberta.

Today, Lummi House of Tears Carver’s healing totem poles stand proudly in the territory of two Nations, each with a lawsuit against the Canadian government and against tarsands development.  Those poles connect indigenous resistance at both ends of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. The resistance and courage of either or both nations have the potential to stop reckless tar sands development.

18 September, 2014

We believe that BC’s incorporated societies – community development organizations, church groups, secular groups, community organizations, hunting groups, and, yes, environmental organizations such as West Coast Environmental Law Association – collectively make for a stronger British Columbia. That is why we’re outraged by a BC Government proposal that could be used by anyone who has a bone to pick with a society to drag it before the courts.

18 September, 2014

Northern Gateway’s President, John Carruthers, now accepts that the start date for the Enbridge Pipeline and Tankers Project – which Enbridge had expected in 2018 – is “fast evaporating”, due to the need to meet with First Nations. That’s a remarkable admission, coming from someone whose project depends upon maintaining the charade that this project is alive and well, and not dead at all. Many of us were reminded of Monty Python’s famous dead parrot sketch.

17 September, 2014

We’ve written before about the apparent and unacceptable influence of the oil and gas industry on Canada’s environmental laws, which may have extended to a suggestion that the Canadian government roll multiple amendments into omnibus budget bills (as it did in 2012). Two documents obtained recently under freedom of information legislation demonstrate that industry, and in particular the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), is still at work trying to weaken our environmental laws.


2 September, 2014

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has proposed aquaculture regulations that risk making an already untenable situation surrounding net-cage aquaculture worse. 

Click here to go directly to West Coast Environmental Law's submission to DFO on the proposed Regulations.

21 August, 2014

It’s been a busy few months with a lot of new challenges and developments regarding the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and tankers proposals. We thought we’d take a step back to give an update on some of the major legal developments. It’s worth flagging that, on top of all these developments regarding the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan projects, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its game-changing ruling in the Tsilhqot’in case on June 26, which will have major implications in the months and years to come including, as we’ve noted, for pipelines and tankers proposals.

20 August, 2014

One of West Coast Environmental Law’s services is to operate the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF). The EDRF is funded by the Law Foundation of BC, and is a granting program for citizens and communities who need to access legal help to solve an environmental dispute. We are pleased to bring you an update on some of the cases we have been funding over the past few months.

20 August, 2014

This year marked the Third Annual Salish Sea Summer Gathering in Whey-ah Wichen/Cates Park in North Vancouver, hosted by the Tsleil Waututh Nation Sacred Trust. West Coast Environmental Law was pleased to be a part of the day and be a sponsor of this event. Held on August 10th, the gathering featured Juno-winning musical acts, a poetry stage, a traditional canoe panel, and a great lineup of speakers including Rex Weiler, Chiefs affected by the Mt. Polley mine tailings pond spill, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, and West Coast Environmental Law Staff Lawyer Eugene Kung.

13 August, 2014

The West Coast Environmental Law summer law student volunteers want to thank our amazing mentors at West Coast Environmental Law for the wonderful educational experiences they provided this summer. We have laughed and learned with the West Coast staff and, to wrap up our work term, would like to share the highlights of our summer with West Coast’s readership.