1 Environmental Law Alert Blog | West Coast Environmental Law

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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.

21 June, 2017

West Coast is proud to ally with the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN) in their use of their own laws to determine the future of Pípsell (also known as Jacko Lake and environs), a sacred area threatened by the proposed open pit Ajax mine. Our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund team travelled to Secwépemc territory back in March to support the SSN’s independent environmental assessment of Ajax mine, which rejected the proposed project (read about it here). It was a powerful ceremony. Today, on National Aboriginal Day, we stand with the SSN as they share the video of their ceremony designating Pípsell as a Cultural Heritage Site according to Secwépemc law, protecting this special place for future generations.

15 June, 2017

At the end of May, as a summer law student at West Coast Environmental Law, I attended Federal Court as an observer at the hearing where the Communities and Coal Society and Voters Taking Action on Climate Change called into question the legality of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s approval of Fraser Surrey Docks LP’s plans to construct a four million tonne direct transfer coal facility in Surrey, BC. 

13 June, 2017

President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement is disappointing, outrageous and immoral. And it should surprise no one. 

We’ve seen time and again that countries with major fossil fuel industries are very reluctant to put the health of the planet ahead of their short-term economic gain. The reality is that it’s going to be extremely challenging to solve climate change as long as the world’s largest corporations and economies are making an awful lot of money from causing it, with no plans to pay their fair share of the costs. It’s just too lucrative to trash the global atmosphere and leave others to clean up the mess.

But – and here’s the good news – this latest setback is also an opportunity! Rather than depending on governments to act on climate change, our communities have the power to demand that the industry pay a fair share of the costs of climate change. Demanding accountability will force fossil fuel companies (and the governments that benefit from the fossil fuel economy) to confront the true costs of their business model.

8 June, 2017

Twenty-five years after Canada proposed the idea of World Oceans Day to the United Nations, people around the world are still celebrating on June 8. It's also a time to reflect.

2 June, 2017

After a surprising election result culminating in the announcement that the BC NDP and BC Greens will cooperate to bring in a new government, it makes sense to look forward to what we might expect on the environmental law front from a BC NDP government (supported by the Greens).

1 June, 2017

Kinder Morgan’s risky Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion just got a whole lot riskier, just as the company was taking steps to offload some of that risk onto Canadian investors.

That is why this week, we released a new legal brief outlining the legal risk for the project.

18 May, 2017

Oceans Day 2017 is approaching, and like many Canadians, we think it’s the perfect time of year to celebrate the seas. To pump up the excitement for West Coast’s marine program and for Oceans Day this year, we’re launching our #Oceans20 initiative.

18 May, 2017

If you’ve been following BC’s sea-level woes extra closely, you’ll know that planning for a sea-level increase of “1 metre by 2100” has become a kind of mantra for local governments and others responsible for planning and readying our communities. While a one metre increase in sea-level rise may seem substantial, we’re worried that the figure is out of date and ignores more recent science and the benefits of a precautionary, risk management approach.


17 May, 2017

On May 12, 2017, the federal government introduced Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, for first reading in Parliament. You could say that the Act has been almost half a century in the making. So, is it a win? Keeping in mind the old adage, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” we say yes, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act is definitely worth supporting, and celebrating.

This law cements the court victory against Enbridge Northern Gateway and the federal government’s reversal of the project approval last year. With that said, Bill C-48 could be strengthened and there are still opportunities to engage with the Bill through the Parliamentary process.

10 May, 2017

There will be a lot of discussion for weeks, maybe months, about who won the 2017 BC election (and who lost). But regardless of which party won, we think we can say that the environment is a big winner.