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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.

26 June, 2015

Earlier this week (June 24th) a Dutch court ordered the Dutch government to ramp up its climate change plans – to achieve at least a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels by the end of 2020. It’s an incredible win – one that is being rightly celebrated by climate activists around the world. In our view, the Dutch decision is a key win in global efforts to use the courts to fight climate change, and will encourage climate activists around the world.  However, court cases filed in countries around the world – including Canada – will need to be based in the legal traditions of those countries, and won’t necessarily be a carbon copy of the Dutch case.

17 June, 2015

The Auditor General has released a report criticizing  the province’s failure to adequately manage the cumulative impacts of resource development in BC.  

17 June, 2015

A law student’s perspective of TWN’s announcement that it has denied approval of Kinder Morgan to proceed through in its territory.

15 June, 2015

On May 14, 2015, nearly seven months before the designated end of his term, the BC Cabinet terminated Richard Bullock from his position as Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) without warning.  Last week, West Coast wrote to the provincial government suggesting that Mr. Bullock’s termination was illegal and asking for his reinstatement. The letter raises crucial questions about the tribunal’s necessary independence from the BC government.  Use our handy web-form to send your own message to the BC Government asking for Mr. Bullock’s re-instatement.

10 June, 2015

Developing country negotiators at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, supported by environmental organizations, have declared today to be Loss and Damages Day – focusing on the efforts – financial and otherwise – to measure and deal with suffering resulting from climate change. Loss and damages negotiations are crucial to protect the most vulnerable in the world, but faced with these types of losses, which are already occuring, the smart thing would be to get on a path to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, to avoid even worse climate impacts.

8 June, 2015

Talia McKenzie first found out that she was going to be living next to a gravel pit the day she picked up the keys to her new home in the Cowichan Valley. Next door, her new neighbours had begun an application process to mine gravel on their property – specifically, 7.5 million tonnes of aggregate extracted over an area of 27.9 ha (about 69 acres). That is a very large gravel pit; yet, as she soon learned, the government would not subject it to an environmental assessment. But Talia isn’t taking ‘no environmental assessment’ for an answer. With the help of our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF), she is heading to court to try to force an environmental review in a case that raises broader questions about loopholes in BC’s environmental assessment legislation and highlights the need for more robust laws to help us “look before we leap”.

5 June, 2015

Last month’s dramatic NDP win in Alberta led to much speculation (at least among those interested in such issues) as to what this means for the oil and gas industry, for climate change and for the battles over controversial pipelines. That speculation even showed up last Thursday in at the climate talks in Bonn, when U.S. diplomats asked Canada whether Alberta’s plans to develop new climate rules (announced Tuesday) would change our national target. While there is reason for optomism, we believe that the NDP’s win brings both opportunities and challenges for those concerned about pipelines and tankers and climate change.

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.