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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.

14 October, 2015

Staff Counsel Hannah Askew recently traveled to Whitehorse to present on a panel at the Yukon North Slope Conference, a gathering which brought Inuit and First Nations governments, Inuit traditional knowledge holders and hunters, scientists, academics and lawyers together to discuss best practices in the use of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK). Hannah's legal work has focused on supporting communities who are working to revitalize their own Indigenous laws.

9 October, 2015

First Nations and environmental organizations had a chance to make reply submissions before the Federal Court of Appeal today. This six-day hearing was the culmination of thousands of hours of work, mountains of documents, and tremendous displays of community support. Now it is up to the panel of three judges to decide the fate of the Enbridge pipeline. Keep an eye out for the release of the decision sometime in the upcoming months!

7 October, 2015

Day 5 of 6 – we are on the home stretch! Today we heard from Northern Gateway about what it labelled the “gold standard” approach to consultation and review for the project as a whole. Counsel for Northern Gateway argued that Northern Gateway went ‘above and beyond’ the legal requirements of the process, at great cost. Join us tomorrow for the last day of the hearing. We will hear about the definition of ‘public interest’ from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Finally, the applicants will have a chance to reply to the arguments we have heard thus far. Looking forward to it!

6 October, 2015

We are on the home stretch with only two days left of this historic proceeding! Today, lawyers representing the government of Canada argued their position. In short, they argued that the Cabinet’s decision to approve Enbridge was reasonable and that Canada meaningfully consulted with Aboriginal groups affected by the project. Tomorrow, we will hear more from the Respondents, including the Province of BC and Northern Gateway pipelines. 

5 October, 2015

Another day down at the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver and just like that we are half way through the six day Enbridge hearing. Today we heard arguments from four environmental organizations and one labour union - all challenging the legal basis for the Enbridge pipeline approval. Tomorrow, Canada seeks to defend its position. Hold onto your hats, it’s a true legal showdown. 

2 October, 2015

Day 2: Another inspired and spirited day at the Enbridge Hearing! The courtroom was jam-packed all day as lawyers for the Nak’azdli, Nadleh Whut’en, Gitga’at and Gitxaała Nations presented their arguments. This wrapped up the submissions from the eight First Nations applicants. Next Monday, October 5th, four environmental organizations and a labour union will make their case against the Enbridge approval so… stay tuned!

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!