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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.

20 November, 2015

In September, the Fort Nelson First Nation won a major legal challenge at the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB) that overturned a long term water license issued to gas giant Nexen Inc for hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). The EAB decision is an important win – setting new precedents on how water managers should deal with scientific uncertainty and the government’s obligations to consult First Nations on water use.

20 November, 2015

When Canada elected Justin Trudeau on a platform of change and open and honest government, the season began for a storm of open letters to the government expressing the hopes and demands of the nation – and the government’s responses, in some cases. Staff Counsel Eugene Kung provides the story of some of these letters, including two that West Coast was a signatory of.

15 November, 2015

Since the recent federal election there has been much discussion about the Liberal party’s election promise to “review Canada’s environmental assessment (EA) processes and introduce new, fair processes” for reviewing projects. But what exactly does a good review process look like? 

15 November, 2015

While an international agreement may come out of the climate talks in Paris later this month, the playing field is tilted against a strong agreement. Staff Counsel Andrew Gage is going to Paris to be a part of the conversation about tilting the field towards climate justice instead. The key, he argues, is in fundamentally shifting the narrative of how we determine accountability, responsibility, and compensation, and about challenging the assumptions that underly the Paris negotiations. 

13 November, 2015

WCEL welcomes today's public release of mandate letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for newly appointed federal Cabinet Ministers. 

The release of the letters is a first for the federal government. WCEL pledges to work closely with all newly appointed Ministers to improve protection of Canada's environment.

10 November, 2015

Recently we received a series of replies from the Canadian government to our suggestion that the global atmosphere was critical infrastructure, at least as essential to our national security as pipelines and highways.We learned that Public Safety Canada recognizes that climate change can have a huge impact on Canada’s security, but that the agency that is responsible for climate change – Environment Canada – had no answers to our questions. We’re left with the impression that the Canadian government as a whole, at least to date, has not appreciated the security implications of climate change.

22 October, 2015

October 19th was a day few could have predicted. After what was reported to be Canada’s longest federal election campaign since 1872 and one that saw the highestvoter turnout in 20 years, Canadians now have an incoming majority Liberal government, one that campaigned largely on a promise of change.

16 October, 2015

West Coast Environmental Law was one of the first organizations to sound the alarm about the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and tankers proposal, a project that in 2004 – when we became involved – wasn’t yet present in the mainstream environmental conversation. In 2014 our fight against the pipeline took on new intensity when the federal government conditionally approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway project. It was then that we received instructions from two Yinka Dene First Nations, Nak’azdli and Nadleh Whut’en, to launch a legal challenge on their behalf against the federal government’s approval of the project. On October 1, six days of legal proceedings commenced. West Coast provided legal summaries of each day of hearings. You can read them all here. 

16 October, 2015

Staff Counsel Gavin Smith provided legal counsel for Nak’azdli and Nadleh Whut’en First Nations in the recent Enbridge hearings. Here, he provides personal reflections on what was a politically and emotionally significant case for many. 

15 October, 2015

In 2013 Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines, killing at least 6,300 people, and displacing an estimated 4 million people. On September 22nd, 2015, individuals and organizations in the Philippines filed a human rights petition (the “Petition”) alleging that 50 corporations, including 6 Canadian companies, are violating the human rights of the people of the Philippines – through their contribution to climate change.  This Petition, the first of its kind, confirms what we’ve been saying for more than a year: the domestic laws of individual countries suffering damages due to climate change will increasingly be used to hold international fossil fuel polluters accountable.