British Columbia

Justine Hunter
Environment Minister Mary Polak

With two major studies now in hand demonstrating how poorly prepared B.C. is for a marine oil spill, Environment Minister Mary Polak says the government still doesn’t know what it would take to achieve a “world-class” response system. “We have not arrived at a place yet where we can say, ‘Here are the elements of a world-class response,’” Ms. Polak said in an interview Wednesday. Her ministry is reviewing this week’s report from a federal panel that found major gaps in the safety system for oil supertankers plying Canadian waters off the coast.

Mark Hume
Environmentalists, B.C. at loggerheads over Douglas fir

When commercial logging began in B.C. about 150 years ago, stands of coastal Douglas fir covered 135,000 hectares of land along the Georgia Strait on the mainland coast, on southeast Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Island. Today almost all of that towering forest has been logged. “We are down to the last one per cent,” says Devon Page, an Ecojustice lawyer who thinks we have cut enough Douglas fir, a tree so iconic it appears on the logo of the B.C. Forest Service.

Carrie Saxifrage
Why would union representatives applaud a coal terminal EIA that experts reject as flawed, for a project that has little or no positive impact for B.C. jobs, which enables a product that is inherently dangerous product both here and around the world?

In a November 27 op-ed to the Vancouver Sun, union representatives lumped B.C. metallurgical coal together with U.S. thermal coal and suggested that if you are against one, you are against both. Denial of the FSD coal terminal proposal won’t hurt any existing coal jobs held by union members. None. Metallurgical coal, used to make steel, may have a role in the post carbon economy for the manufacture of new infrastructure. Thermal coal has no role in the future. Why mislead the public into thinking they are one and the same thing?

Op Ed

British Columbians can be forgiven if they feel confused about the environmental effects of the liquefied natural gas industry proposed for northwestern B.C. The provincial government, sticking to a 2020 legislated target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one third, is pledging that LNG operations in Kitimat would be the cleanest in the world. But an environmental study last week by the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust is warning of a hot mess of pollution and contaminants should three LNG plants be built as planned.

Chuck Chiang
AFP/Getty Images

The proposed construction of a new coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks is drawing the ire of environmental group Greenpeace. That’s not surprising. What is unexpected is the angle from which Greenpeace is taking aim at the Port Metro Vancouver facility. It is not using the increase on global carbon emissions and health consequences as its main argument that the terminal should not go ahead. Rather, it is on the grounds for which the terminal was proposed in the first place: economics.

Anti-Pipeline Rally

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people rallied in Vancouver on November 16 in opposition to the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. It was a strong expression of the ‘wall of opposition’ that the Alberta, BC and federal governments are facing as they try to push through acceptance of the project, including gaining formal approval of the National Energy Board.

Vaughn Palmer
Pacific Carbon Trust

By the time cabinet minister Bill Bennett stepped into the legislature press theatre Tuesday to announce the pending doom of the Pacific Carbon Trust, the agency was pretty much orphaned in terms of support. School districts had denounced it. The auditor general had exposed it. Media coverage - for instance Gordon Hoekstra's stories in The Vancouver Sun 19 months ago - had thoroughly discredited it. Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was on the cost-cutter equivalent of a mission from God to get rid of it.

Groups claim port authority's Assessment fails to protect the public interest

In the last VESG online newsletter, we reported on hundreds protesting against the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) closed door decision-making on the proposed coal port that would make Vancouver the largest exporter in North America of the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Organizers of the protests argue that the VFPA has failed to protect the public interest as it refuses to address the full impacts or conduct adequate public hearings on proposed coal export expansion.

Barry Saxifrage
Climate Snapshot

Share prices of major coal mining companies in the United States have collapsed in the last two years. Investors have lost billions. The lack of any solution to the high levels of climate pollution from coal burning is dimming the industry prospects for a growing number of investors. Amazingly this gutting of market capitalization over the last two years has happened while US coal production fell just 6%. It's not today's relatively small decline that has spooked investors. Instead it is a rapid change in what the future looks like for American coal.

Damien Gillis and Will Koop
Frackwater pits in Talisman's Farell Creek operations

A pit storing contaminated fracking water in northeast BC was leaking into the surrounding soil and groundwater for up to six months before owner Talisman formally notified the Oil and Gas Commission and undertook clean-up efforts, The Common Sense Canadian has learned. One of five lined pits connected to Talisman’s Farrell Creek operations north of Hudson’s Hope, referred to as Pond A, suffered a puncture through both of its protective layers, causing toxic fluids to begin escaping into the environment.


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