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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.

22 April, 2016

To celebrate Earth Day 2016, we’re highlighting the remarkable work of Divest Victoria and their campaign – with help from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF) – to allow communities across BC to divest from fossil fuels. As a result of their work, this August BC’s local governments will be considering a resolution calling for fossil fuel-free investment options for their own investment portfolios. If the resolution goes forward, this good news story has the potential to send a powerful message to the fossil fuel industry.

18 April, 2016

In February 2016, West Coast's Hannah Askew attended a Moose Management Summit in Fort St. John, which was held to address Treaty 8 First Nations’ concerns about the state of moose in their territory. The word for moose in Dunne-zah is “Huuda,” which literally translates to “that which keeps us alive.”

15 April, 2016

On April 4, 2016 the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs filed an amended Notice of Civil Claim in the BC Supreme Court seeking judicial recognition of their title to 6,200 square kilometres of the mid-Nass River and Kitwanga River watersheds in northwestern British Columbia. In this guest blog, Gitanyow Hereditary Chief Glen Williams/Malii and Tara Marsden/Naxginkw explain the significance of this case for the future of wild salmon ecosystems in the region, for their people, and for all Canadians.

15 April, 2016

According to pipeline supporters and cheerleaders, one of the primary rationales for building pipelines to tidewater – Canada’s east or west coast – is to maximize the price that Canadians can get for tar sands oil by reaching world markets. A number of years ago this argument may have been true, but we live in a different world today.

12 April, 2016

The Canadian government wants to know what you think about its plans to consider “upstream” greenhouse gas emissions associated with “major oil and gas projects.” But whatever you do, don’t look downstream – there’s no dirty fossil fuel pollution to see there, upstream is much prettier to look at. Since 89% of emissions for a project may be from so-called “downstream” emissions (in the case of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, for example), that’s a major emission omission.

24 March, 2016

Fish matter to Canadians. Fish habitat, called the “bedrock” of fisheries by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), matters. And so the law to protect fish and their habitat really matters. That's why WCEL launched Scaling Up the Fisheries Act: Restoring Lost Protections and Introducing Modern Safeguards, a brief that outlines preliminary ideas on reforming Canada’s essential fisheries law.

23 March, 2016

The headlines were enough to make you wonder if you’d stepped into an alternate universe: a mining corporation suing the Crown for transferring land interests to First Nations without adequate consultation.

22 March, 2016

Last November, in a federally-unprecedented move, Prime Minister Trudeau made public his mandate letters to Canada’s new Cabinet. Among the important directives contained in those letters, there was one that created a particular stir among many environmental groups, academics and communities.

15 March, 2016

Good news and bad news on the environmental enforcement front from a recent BC government announcement on improving tools for Mines Act enforcement. Bad news: Energy and Mines Minister, Bill Bennett, confirmed the government only lays charges when mining corporations refuse point-blank to follow a government order to comply with the law. Good news: the government is moving to create a new enforcement tool which will allow significant penalties to be imposed without the need to go to court.

3 March, 2016

It’s amazing how invisible climate change can be – how we feel immune from the consequences of what seems like a vague, global challenge.  We think that climate change only occurs in far off climate-vulnerable nations. Which is why some may be surprised that Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer predicts that extreme weather events will cost Canadians $4.9 billion each year between now and 2020, much of that due to climate change.