1 Environmental Law Alert Blog | West Coast Environmental Law

Banner _Pubs.jpg

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.

7 April, 2017

On April 1st, the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund team had an opportunity to visit some of our grantees in Secwepemc territory/Kamloops and participate in a declaration of solidarity and support for the Secwepemc decision to reject the proposed Ajax mine. The ceremony brought together Indigenous communities, Kamloops residents and allies in the long-term fight against this project and the unacceptable risks it would present to culture, environment and health.

5 April, 2017

Revelations about the amount of corporate money coming to the BC Liberals have many people asking: what are these companies getting in return? It’s a good question. After all, corporations are not supposed to spend their shareholders’ money without a reasonable expectation of a return. In addition to questions about BC Liberal donors receiving government contracts or particular favourable government decisions, it's important to recognize that large corporate donations may be aimed at achieving a more sympathetic regulatory environment - one in which a failure to comply with BC's environmental laws may not result in major consequences. Teck Resources Ltd. is one of the BC Liberals' largest donors, and some of its companies have been in chronic non-compliance with the province's laws, making it arguably a beneficiary of a pattern of declining environmental enfrocement in BC. Moreover, a failure to follow BC's environmental laws has not prevented Teck Coal Ltd. from receiving an unprecedented permit approval from Cabinet to expand those same operations. Large corporate donations raises fundamental questions about whether our politicians will regulate the hand that feeds their re-election campaigns. 

31 March, 2017

It is not every day that we have an opportunity to effect transformative legal change. It is natural, then, that when last summer a number of cabinet ministers announced the review of four key federal environmental laws, West Coast Environmental Law – along with other lawyers, academics, environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and the general public – took a keen interest. Through these reviews we have an opportunity to not only strengthen environmental processes and substantive legal protections, but to also transform the governance of environmental planning and decision-making.

This opportunity is perhaps most pronounced in the reviews of federal environmental assessment processes and the National Energy Board (NEB). Currently, two out of the three federal bodies who are responsible authorities for environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 – the NEB and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) – are regulators.

28 March, 2017

“Canadian governments can and must do much more to protect Canadian ecosystems and biodiversity,” says the latest report from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development – a must-read for anyone concerned about biodiversity protection in Canada. Staff Counsel Linda Nowlan breaks down the Committee’s recommendations, and how they could help ramp up marine protection on the Pacific coast.

23 March, 2017

Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel – the marine area between Vancouver Island, Denman Island and Hornby Island – has been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) because of its importance as spawning habitat for herring. But does that mean it gets any extra protection?

Marine Campaigner Maryann Watson explains what's really needed to protect this special area, highlighting the disconnect between scientific research and decisions around ocean management.

15 March, 2017

West Coast's RELAW Project Lead Maxine Hayman Matilpi shares stories from a recent conference that brought together historians, legal scholars and Indigenous people who are direct descendants of the signatories to the Vancouver Island Treaties (aka Douglas Treaties). The topic spurred rich conversations about the ways Indigenous people view land and resources, as well as what it means to live under these treaties today.

15 March, 2017

Many of us feel some pressure, or even guilt, about our environmental footprint and our role in creating climate change. Climate campaigner Anjali Appadurai breaks down this common narrative and points to the need to hold Big Oil accountable for the much bigger part it has played in creating and perpetuating the climate crisis.

14 March, 2017

It’s been a while since we’ve updated you about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion project (KMX). A lot has happened in the past few months, so here’s a snapshot of where we’re at.

13 March, 2017

Fish across Canada breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the top recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and Oceans’ report reviewing the Fisheries Act: to reinstate strong habitat protection for fish.

10 March, 2017

On Thursday, February 23, Staff Counsel Andrew Gage appeared before the City of Victoria’s Mayor, Lisa Helps, and its Council to talk about climate accountability. This is just one of many conversations we’re having with city councils, councillors, municipal staff and others following up on our January 25, 2017 letter about climate accountability

As part of that discussion, we’ve unveiled a new resource – Climate Accountability Letters: An introduction for local governments – which explains why local government must step up to the plate.