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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.

21 May, 2014

Every two years the Salish Sea Conference brings together scientists, First Nations and tribal government representatives, resource managers, community/business leaders, policy makers, educators and students, and even the occasional environmental lawyer, to share the latest research on protecting and restoring the Salish Sea ecosystem. This year I was privileged to be one of well over 1,000 attendees at this exciting conference, held in Seattle from April 30 to May 2. It was organized by the Fraser Basin Council, Western Washington University and the Puget Sound Partnership.

21 May, 2014

Investors are asking whether Kinder Morgan's Transmountain Pipeline could become the next Keystone, after Kinder Morgan’s statements about oil spills being good for the economy went viral. Increasingly it is becoming clear that this project is not inevitable, and the National Energy Board's review process is becoming mired with constant and unrelenting criticism, which makes the project’s swift approval far from certain as the numerous legal and financial risks it faces come into sharp focus.

21 May, 2014

Say “no” to increased corporate control of our forests

Thank you to everyone who submitted their comments to the provincial government’s area based forest tenure consultation, which closed on May 30, 2014. Over 1200 people sent their comments in through our website!  To learn more, see West Coast's Environmental Law Alert, Logging rights consultation fails to ask the big questions.

21 May, 2014

The provincial government’s current “Area Based Forest Tenure Consultation”, which ends on May 30, 2014 is about large-scale logging interests and how much control they should have over BC’s forests. It fails to ask the big questions: Who should be managing BC’s forests and for what purpose? How can we address decades of unsustainable overcutting? Instead, the consultation looks at further entrenching corporate control.

There’s just over a week left to tell the BC government what you think.

20 May, 2014

On April 11, 2014, the Yinka Dene Alliance (“YDA”) held an All Clans Gathering in Nak’azdli (adjacent to Fort St. James) in order for their leaders and elders to issue reasons for the rejection of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in a gathering according to their laws. I was grateful to be invited as a witness at the gathering along with West Coast’s executive director and senior counsel Jessica Clogg. The power of the gathering really underlined why the federal government’s decision to essentially ignore First Nations’ assertions of their laws and governance in relation to the Enbridge pipeline is a serious risk, not just from a relationship-building standpoint but also in the context of Canadian law.

20 May, 2014

The environmental assessment panel's reviewing BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam on the Peace River was clear: Site C would have significant environmental and social consequences that would be unfairly borne by locals, those costs could only be justified by an unambiguous need for its power, and BC Hydro has failed to prove that we need that energy, at least not on the timelines it proposed.

28 April, 2014

New regulations under the Fisheries Act allow Canada’s Fisheries and Environment Ministers to give blanket authorization to cause pollution in fish habitat in a range of circumstances, including pollution from fish farm companies seeking to control “pests” or invasive species.   These regulations are the latest in a series of changes to Canada’s fish protection laws the government has made in the name of providing “certainty” to industry.  But what about fisheries laws that would provide certainty to Canadians that their wild fish and natural environment will be there for future generations? 

14 April, 2014

The current session of the BC Legislature has kept us quite busy.  While we’ve had occasion to discuss several bills in our Environmental Law Alert, we haven’t even mentioned a host of others that we are following with interest.  This session, the BC government has introduced a whole series of amendments and new statutes with environmental implications – some good, some not good – and many of them with little or no public consultation.  We have significant concerns about a number of these bills, and wish that the government would take the time to consult the general public, First Nations and stakeholders when making these types of changes.  We believe that such consultations do result in better laws.

11 April, 2014

We’ve just learned that Kinder Morgan has received an illegal park use permit from the BC government to allow it to research pipeline routes through 5 of BC’s parks and protected areas. And rather than recognizing that parks should be off-limits to pipelines, the BC government has rushed through an amendment to the Park Act to authorize this type of permit in the future.

10 April, 2014

Following hot on the heels of the controversial Park Amendment Act (Bill 4), the BC government has introduced another bill that would open up some of the province’s most publicly valuable lands – in this case, its farmlands – to industrial development. Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, weakens legal protection on some of the best of BC's scarce agricultural lands. If passed, Bill 24 would allow decision makers to prioritize short-term gains over the long-term goal of protecting farmland and food security for most of the province’s ALR lands.

Read on to learn more, or you can use our handy on-line letter to tell the BC government: hands off our food security