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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.

7 May, 2013

I’m excited to be heading to the Enbridge AGM in Calgary on May 8 on behalf of West Coast.  I’ll be accompanying a  diverse group of concerned community members from the BC North Coast and from Alberta, including commercial fishers, farmers, youth and representatives of the Wet’suwet’en Tsayu (Beaver) and Laksilyu (Small Frog) Clans, as well as members of environmental NGOs and organized labour. The message we will deliver to the new CEO Al Monaco and the Enbridge Board is that they need an exit strategy: the Northern Gateway project is not going to be built, and hanging on will generate more liability for shareholders and investors.

2 May, 2013

Earlier this year, the BC Legislature declared the Pacific Salmon to be BC’s official fish.  Which is no doubt nice for the salmon.  But even nicer would be real legal protection for the salmon.  With the platforms from all four parties now available, what are candidates proposing to do to protect our salmon? This post examines where each of the four main parties come down, including taking a look at growing controversy about the NDP’s rather vague election promise on salmon.

26 April, 2013

The BC New Democratic Party released its election platform on Wednesday (April 24th), the last of the four main parties to release its platform. What? You don’t have time to read yet another election platform?  Well today is your lucky day, because this environmental law alert summarizes the platforms of the NDP, the Liberals, the Greens and the Conservatives into 4 handy, easy to look at word clouds.

22 April, 2013

We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.  How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides. A Guest Post by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer.

19 April, 2013

Well, the writ’s been dropped and this Environmental Law Alert post is brought to you by the West Coast Environmental Law Association, sponsor under the Elections Act.  We do understand the value of regulating advertising that is intended to sway elections, but the BC Elections Act is prohibiting communications on broad public issues based not on whether those communications are intended to impact the election, but on whether the parties and candidates have taken positions on those issues.  In our view, this is having a chilling effect on public discussion at the very time when we most need public discussion. 

19 April, 2013

Tools and resources that raise environmental issues in the context of an election are always of interest over here at the West Coast Environmental Law Association.  So we thought we’d direct our readers to two new tools: VoteEnvironment2013 and the CBC Vote Compass. 

10 April, 2013

Last Thursday, April 4th the National Energy Board (NEB) announced that anyone who wished to comment on Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline proposal in Central Canada even by simply writing a letter would need to fill out a 10 page application form within 2 weeks.  This is, of course, absurd, since it will take the NEB far longer to review these 10 page applications and decide who will be allowed to write a letter, then it would have taken to read the letters. While the NEB says this new form is in response to Bill C-38 and the new CEAA 2012, in our view, it is still open to the NEB to adopt a more open process in relation to its decisions under the NEB Act – both in relation to Line 9 and generally.  Public participation is a good thing!

9 April, 2013

A snow storm that blew through central Canada made this year’s March 19 Ottawa’s snowiest on record.  But there was more than weather to distinguish this as a historic date. In the evening, nine First Nations from across North America came together in a ceremony to mark the ever-growing opposition to tar sands pipelines, by signing of the Save the Fraser Declaration and the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands Projects. Although the storm had kept many witnesses away, those of us who had made it were moved by the ceremony and honoured to be present.

8 April, 2013

A press release issued last Tuesday (April 2nd), by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) concerning a proposed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Export Terminal at Kitimat, BC referred to the "strengthened and modernized Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012)."  This term appears literally tens of thousands of times on web pages, press releases and other documents generated by the Agency.  “Strengthened”?  “Modernized”?  In what way is CEAA 2012 strengthened, compared to the old CEAA? The reality is that CEAA 2012 was a major step back for environmental assessment in Canada. 

2 April, 2013

As the Yinka Dene Alliance and their allies were gathering in Ottawa to renew their opposition to Tar Sands Pipelines on March 19th, Natural Resource Minister, Joe Oliver, was in Terrace, BC, to announce the appointment of Vancouver-based lawyer, Douglas Eyford, as a “Special Federal Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure” to talk to BC’s First Nations about energy infrastructure. While we’re glad that the Canadian government has stated they will listen to First Nations, it needs to take a step back and not pre-judge the outcome of those conversations.  If the conversations are just trying to find some cosmetic fixes so that pipelines can continue, then they are wasting everyone’s time.