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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.

1 June, 2015

Canadian politicians may argue that our greenhouse gas emissions are small, but because the global harm that the world is already suffering from climate change is immense, Canada's contribution runs into the thousands of deaths and billions of dollars each year.  The first laws of holds is: if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Canada needs to stop digging, even if those around us are slow to stop.  

21 May, 2015

Meaningful public participation is a backbone of environmental assessment. But the BC environmental assessment backbone is broken. Now is your chance to help fix it.

Until May 26th at 9:00 am PDT, you can provide feedback to the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) on its public participation processes by posting comments to the EAO’s consultation webpages. Read on to learn how to submit comments and some of the ways public participation in BC can be strengthened.


18 May, 2015

Earlier this month, a federal court struck down parts of licenses granted to salmon farms that allowed diseased fish to be moved into open ocean pens.  The judgement also reinforces the need of the government to proceed cautiously when their actions have the potential to seriously harm fish.

15 May, 2015

Some call sea-level rise a "slow-moving emergency", with a 1m rise predicted by 2100 and an estimated $9.5bn price tag to prepare BC for that rise. What kinds of diverse solutions should we be exploring to help us prepare, and why are there legal barriers to implementing some of the best options?

15 May, 2015

The recently-announced Marine Planning Partnership is co-led by the Province of BC and 18 First Nations dedicated to producing world-leading marine management plans. The MaPP process is unique and precedent-setting, and should help ensure that our northern Pacific coast is managed sustainably.  It is unique in terms of the area covered, the process used, and the results achieved.

15 May, 2015

Staff Counsel Eugene Kung reports on a landmark journey with Tsleil-Waututh Nation leadership to New York and Texas to meet with Kinder Morgan investors and attend the megacorporation's AGM. Along the way he makes connections between oil giants and families in the path of health hazards, and reflects on the meaning of environmental justice. 

15 May, 2015

Despite the Province of BC’s tough talk about its conditions for oil pipelines, in ongoing litigation regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers proposal BC is fighting to keep its decision-making responsibility in the hands of the federal government. Legal counsel Gavin Smith and summer legal volunteer Lucy Yuan highlight the gap between the provincial government’s public position on Northern Gateway and the arguments it is making in court.

22 April, 2015

On April 21, the federal government released its 2015 budget. Weighing in at over 500 pages, it contains a number of measures related to the environment. But what do those measures actually mean?

16 April, 2015

BC has had the dubious distinction of being the “Wild West for groundwater” – with no licensing of groundwater resources – for over a hundred years. The new Water Sustainability Act is poised to change this. But will the Act relieve the pressure on groundwater in BC’s northeast from the oil and gas industry? The answer may depend on regulations currently under development. 

16 April, 2015

How much environmental protection could Canada get for the price of government advertising? In the lead-up to the 2015 federal budget release, Staff Counsel Anna Johnston explores the contrast between government spending on the environment and its spending on its own advertising. Take our survey about federal spending priorities to tell us how you would spend $75 million!