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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.

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.

18 February, 2016

Staff Counsel Eugene Kung provides us with a short new year update on the Kinder Morgan file. It has been a whirlwind start to 2016, beginning with the BC government's announcement of opposition to the pipeline. Find out what has happened since then, and why the federal government is seeking to "restore trust in environmental assessment". 

15 February, 2016

On Thursday, February 4, 2016, representatives from West Coast Environmental Law were honoured to be witnesses as the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) signed the Save the Fraser Declaration Solidarity Accord to stand together with First Nations banning tar sands transport through their territories.

15 February, 2016

Last month, the Salmon Nation Summit in Prince Rupert hosted over 300 community members, First Nations leaders, scientists, politicians, commercial and sport fishermen, and other concerned citizens to talk wild salmon, LNG, and ocean protection. The Summit ended with the signing of the Lelu Island Declaration. Staff Counsel Linda Nowlan describes some of the important conversations around indigenous rights, marine planning, LNG development and salmon habitat in the sensitive BC ecosystem of Lelu Island.