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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.

17 July, 2015

We have suggested that BC's new water rates are too low - an assessment shared by the signatories to a SumofUs.org petition signed by 225,000 people. As a result, the BC government has commited to review its water rates. But with former MLA Judy Tyabji suggesting that we warned against higher water rates in a 1999 opinion, we want to clarify that there is room to increase water rates dramatically without running afoul of NAFTA or other trade agreements.

16 July, 2015

On June 18, the West Coast Environmental Law Association hosted a telephone town hall on what the rolling back of Canada's environmental laws means for oil tankers and the health and security of BC's coast.

Hundreds of people heard from panelists Robyn Allan, former President and CEO of ICBC, intervenor in the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project environmental assessment, and former intervenor in the environmental assessment of Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline and tankers expansion project; marine ecologist Craig Orr; and environmental lawyer Anna Johnston.

Read on to learn about what they had to say about the regulatory framework, the National Energy Board's environmental assessment process and the environmental and health threats that the Kinder Morgan project poses, and listen to a recording of the town hall

1 July, 2015

Guest bloggers Allison Russell and Emily Beveridge from Rana Law explain lawsuits by a group of Treaty 8 First Nations against the federal and BC governments’ approvals of the Site C Dam in the Peace River Valley of northeastern BC.

26 June, 2015

In the recent Dutch court decision ordering the Dutch government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2020, the court made some specific findings that might be relevant to Canada and the Canadian government. Here's 5 of the most Canada-relevant findings from that precedent setting decision. 

26 June, 2015

Earlier this week (June 24th) a Dutch court ordered the Dutch government to ramp up its climate change plans – to achieve at least a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels by the end of 2020. It’s an incredible win – one that is being rightly celebrated by climate activists around the world. In our view, the Dutch decision is a key win in global efforts to use the courts to fight climate change, and will encourage climate activists around the world.  However, court cases filed in countries around the world – including Canada – will need to be based in the legal traditions of those countries, and won’t necessarily be a carbon copy of the Dutch case.

17 June, 2015

The Auditor General has released a report criticizing  the province’s failure to adequately manage the cumulative impacts of resource development in BC.  

17 June, 2015

A law student’s perspective of TWN’s announcement that it has denied approval of Kinder Morgan to proceed through in its territory.

15 June, 2015

On May 14, 2015, nearly seven months before the designated end of his term, the BC Cabinet terminated Richard Bullock from his position as Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) without warning.  Last week, West Coast wrote to the provincial government suggesting that Mr. Bullock’s termination was illegal and asking for his reinstatement. The letter raises crucial questions about the tribunal’s necessary independence from the BC government.  Use our handy web-form to send your own message to the BC Government asking for Mr. Bullock’s re-instatement.

10 June, 2015

Developing country negotiators at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, supported by environmental organizations, have declared today to be Loss and Damages Day – focusing on the efforts – financial and otherwise – to measure and deal with suffering resulting from climate change. Loss and damages negotiations are crucial to protect the most vulnerable in the world, but faced with these types of losses, which are already occuring, the smart thing would be to get on a path to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, to avoid even worse climate impacts.

8 June, 2015

Talia McKenzie first found out that she was going to be living next to a gravel pit the day she picked up the keys to her new home in the Cowichan Valley. Next door, her new neighbours had begun an application process to mine gravel on their property – specifically, 7.5 million tonnes of aggregate extracted over an area of 27.9 ha (about 69 acres). That is a very large gravel pit; yet, as she soon learned, the government would not subject it to an environmental assessment. But Talia isn’t taking ‘no environmental assessment’ for an answer. With the help of our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF), she is heading to court to try to force an environmental review in a case that raises broader questions about loopholes in BC’s environmental assessment legislation and highlights the need for more robust laws to help us “look before we leap”.