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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.

1 October, 2015

Four First Nations made their case in front of the Federal Court of Appeal today while hundreds rallied outside to show their support and express opposition to the Enbridge pipeline. Inside the packed courtroom, lawyers presented compelling arguments and answered challenging questions as chanting and drumming could be heard from 8 floors down. Stay tuned for Day 2 of the hearing tomorrow October 2nd. Nak’azdli and Nadleh Whut’en Nations, WCEL’s clients, are getting things started at 9:30am!

30 September, 2015

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and formerly Governor of the Bank of Canada, does know something about financial risk.  And when he was asked to speak to Lloyd’s of London, he chose to talk about the financial risks of climate change, including (and this is what caught our attention), the likelihood of financial disruption associated with climate litigation. His comments on lawsuits “by parties who have suffered loss or damage from the effects of climate change [who] seek compensation from those they hold responsible” are well worth a read.

29 September, 2015

On September 24, 2015 the National Energy Board (NEB) did something remarkable. They stopped time. More precisely, they traveled back in time, to September 18, 2015, stopped time, then traveled back to the future, to January 8, 2016 to start it again. In the words of the Time Lord, Dr. Who, time is indeed “wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff?”

25 September, 2015

Over six days, Oct. 1-2 and 5-8, eight First Nations will stand up in court against Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines. These Nations, along with four non-profit groups and a labour union, have filed legal challenges to the federal government’s conditional approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Use our quick tool to take a moment to send a letter of solidarity to the Nations standing in court starting on Oct 1, 2015. West Coast lawyers will be in court with our clients and will deliver your message to the nations in court!

21 September, 2015

During the summer a news story on Global TV suggested that BC has too few conservation officers to deal with all of the problem wildlife calls. The key report that Global based this story on also helps explain why BC's enforcement of environmental laws been dropping for well over a decade. We review the reductions in the "field staff" within BC's Conservation Officer Service and what it means for BC's environmental laws.

21 September, 2015

A recent decision of the Environmental Appeal Board raises important questions about the ways that we can assist natural ecosystems in adapting to climate change. The EAB confirmed a decision by the BC Government to change how water in Cowichan Lake is released into Cowichan River, to better address climate change. A belated congratulations to the Cowichan Watershed Board and their lawyer, Krista Robertson, who intervened in the appeal in support of the Cowichan River and its fish.

21 September, 2015

Even though water has been at the heart of logging conflicts in BC for many years, it is very rare that logging companies are actually made to pay financially when they harm watercourses.  That’s why a rare out-of-court settlement announced this past week between logging giant, Tolko Industries, and Chilcotin Rancher, Randy Saugstad, is good news.  But it also raises questions about why a rancher should have to fight for 6 years for compensation for harm to his water, and why logging companies so rarely need to pay when they harm water sources.

21 September, 2015

When a government makes changes to a regulatory framework, it takes time – sometimes years – before its actual impacts can be known. Now, almost two years since the last of the amendments came into force (the last of the Bill C-38 changes to the Fisheries Act came into effect in November, 2013), results have started to come in, and a new paper by a law professor from the University of Calgary tells us that things are not looking good for fish or the environment.

9 September, 2015

Dear - We write in regard to your recent “fact check” of a 2014 petition by the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) related to the removal of environmental protection from 2.5 million of Canada’s lakes and rivers. The NDP states that “Canada went from 2.5 million protected lakes and rivers, down to just 159 under the Conservatives.” You conclude that this statement is “misleading” (indeed, on Twitter, “VERY misleading.”) We have ourselves made similar statements to the one made in the NDP Petition. Indeed, on 31 August 2015 we tweeted a graphic asserting that “Since 2011, 99% of Canada’s Lakes and Rivers lost their legal protection.” We stand by that statement, even after reviewing your analysis. Here is why we believe that your finding that the NDP’s petition is “misleading” is itself misleading...

20 August, 2015

The governments of both British Columbia and Alberta are currently consulting the public as they develop “climate leadership plans.” But what does it really take to be a climate leader? Let’s take a moment to reflect on what climate leadership means and to acknowledge some recent examples, and to consider what that means for BC's promise of climate leadership.