Well, it’s been a year since we launched the Environmental Law Alert Blog (our first post was January 4th, 2010, although the site didn’t actually go live until a week later). Thank you to everyone who’s read our posts during this critical first year – the almost 20,000 reads of almost 100 posts that we’ve written since January 2010!
We’ve been delighted by the response to the Environmental Law Alert blog: the comments from readers, the positive words from our colleagues with other environmental organizations and allies. One new reader wrote:
This blog is amazing... I spent the last half hour reading it and subscribed so I won't miss a post. Thanks.
It has allowed us a voice on issues which, while important, can be complicated and difficult to discuss through conventional media.
Highlights of the year included:
Our most popular blog post of the year examined the creation of the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations and what that means for environmental protection in the province. The blog post generated over 1,500 views (not counting the many people who read it after it was reposted elsewhere or distributed by email) and still shows up as the third listing on a Google Search for “BC Cabinet Shuffle” (just after the BC Government’s press release). But it also resulted in my being invited to participate in a panel discussion on Public Eye Radio, as well as being quoted on CKNW, the Times Colonist and other media sources.
Our coverage of declining BC Government environmental enforcement seems to have influenced government policy in ways beyond what we could have hoped for. We have been told by reliable sources that senior staff in the BC Ministry of Environment had not been aware that there was an ongoing issue with enforcement until we broke the story. Since then we’ve seen changes in how the Ministry reports its enforcement stats, how it cooperates with other government agencies on environmental enforcement and, most recently, in the mandate of the Conservation Officer Service. Will these changes improve environmental enforcement in BC? It’s really too early to tell. But it looks as if the Ministry of Environment is taking enforcement a bit more seriously and that the ELA Blog might have played a key role in persuading the Ministry to do so.
We’ve also been able to use the blog to comment publicly on a wide range of important issues, including:
- taking apart the public relations claims of Enbridge on its Northern Gateway pipeline and Taseko on its Prosperity Mine after the project was turned down.
- Explaining the importance of changes in Canada’s environmental laws, from precedent-setting court cases, to changes in how private prosecutions are handled, to proposed changes in Canada’s environmental assessment laws.
- Telling West Coast’s stories, from the experience of our interns in attending the Gathering of Nations in Kitamaat or sitting in on a court hearing challenging an environmental assessment, to the work of our staff lawyers on the campaign for a legislated tanker ban or briefing US officials on BC’s “green energy” policies.
What do you think of the Environmental Law Alert Blog at the end of our first year? If you support the work of this blog in discussing environmental law issues of importance to British Columbia please consider giving us a tip to allow us to continue this work. If you don’t think we deserve a tip yet, what can we do better (we can take it)?
By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer
P.S. - We're delighted to have been a runner up in this year's Clawbies (Canada's awards for law blogs) in the category of best legal blog for a non-legal audience. With your feedback we hope to improve and do even better next year.