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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.

3 January, 2013

Well, tomorrow (January 4th) the Enbridge Joint Review Panel arrives in Victoria.  It’s in Vancouver on January 14th, and in Kelowna on the 28th.  So this is a big month in the southern part of our province for those concerned about the Enbridge Pipeline and Tanker Project. As you may have heard, the general public will not be invited to attend these meetings to watch the presentations from concerned citizens, but we're now learning that even those who are registered to speak can't attend in person to watch their fellow presenters.  But, whether you’re registered to speak or not, there will be plenty going on.

18 December, 2012

In December 2010, representatives of sixty-one Indigenous nations came together in an historic alliance to protect the Fraser watershed and our coastal waters from the threat of oil spills.The result was the Save the Fraser Declaration, which bans tar sands projects, like the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project, from impacted First Nations’ territories as a matter of Indigenous law. The Declaration states:

We will not allow the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, or similar Tar Sands projects, to cross our lands, territories and watersheds, or the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon.

18 December, 2012

Together with our allies, we are continuing to hold the federal government's feet to the fire to minimize the fall out from "budget" bill C-38 in relation to the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012. The so-called consultation process for CEAA 2012's critical Project LIst continues - currently a document virtually copied and pasted from the previous Act - and we're asking the Minister to make good on the government's consultation and amendment promises

17 December, 2012

Should hunting clubs be able to hold wolf-killing contests, with the intent to cull the wolf population? A legal opinion we prepared for Pacific Wild on the legality of a controversial wolf-kill contest is calling the legality of the contest into doubt, and escalating concerns about how we manage wildlife in BC.

14 December, 2012

On November 20th Team U of Alberta won the world’s second-ever Twitter Moot, arguing that we all have a right to a healthy atmosphere.  Meanwhile our friends at Ecojustice and David Suzuki Foundation are asking Canadians to demand environmental rights.  Why are more and more environmental lawyers talking environmental rights, and how do we build community movements based on those rights?

14 December, 2012

First Nations in BC are playing a national leadership role in pushing back against the controversial Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA), and are hooking up with some non-Aboriginal allies in that fight.  A press release issued today by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), the Hupacasath First Nation, as well as and the Council of Canadians headlined challenges the Canadian government to deal honourably with First Nations before ratifying the Canada China FIPPA.

6 December, 2012

Almost a year ago, Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, made an unfounded accusation that environmental organizations were adopting "a quintessential American approach:  sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further."  Now, one year later, it's become clear that the government's attack on Canada's environmental laws are forcing environmental, and other, interests into the courts.  What does this mean for Canada's environment and environmental movement?

6 December, 2012

Living Democracy from the Ground Up is a mini-documentary series produced by West Coast Environmental Law that takes an up close and personal look and the impacts that individuals could feel on the ground from rollbacks to our environmental laws. The stories in the series demonstrate how robust and participatory environmental assessment is important to real people and communities and how consulting local people in the process leads to better projects. As Justice Thomas Berger says in Part 3 of the series, “that’s a lesson in democracy.”

8 November, 2012

Local governments in BC are on the frontlines of the impacts of climate change. They need to become engaged in climate change adaptation – defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an adjustment in response to actual or expected climate change, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities – in order to protect themselves from potentially devastating impacts that may arise from single events like storms or longer term incremental changes like sea level rise.  To assist, West Coast Environmental Law has released a new resource, Preparing for Climate Change: An Implementation Guide for Local Governments in BC. This guide looks at how local governments can use available legal and planning tools to support climate change adaptation strategies and goals.

7 November, 2012

Jay Nelson has a unique perspective on the new Canadian Environmental Assessment act, 2012 (CEAA 2012); as the lawyer for the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) in the current environmental assessment of the controversial New Prosperity mine project at Fish Lake (Teztan Biny), he has been grappling with how CEAA 2012 works on the ground.  In a recent webinar Jay shared the opportunities and challenges posed by CEAA 2012.