Environmental Protection

New environment minister’s activism “problematic”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is worried by the appointment of Montreal MP Steven Guilbeault as the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The former Greenpeace activist was arrested 20 years ago for scaling the CN Tower in Toronto as part of a climate change campaign and has been openly critical of some pipeline projects. Kenney says Guilbeault’s new cabinet role sends a “very problematic” message to Alberta. [node:read-more:link]

Container ship blaze investigated

The Canadian Coast Guard is leading an investigation into a fire aboard a foreign container ship off the B.C. south coast. The blaze initially involved 10 containers of unknown cargo but 40 more fell overboard in choppy seas and the ship was still smoldering today. [node:read-more:link]

Freshwater oil spills research

Michigan has been confirmed as the site of a U.S. Coast Guard National Center of Expertise to develop plans for emergency responses. Involving Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, the decision flows from a 2017 USCG warning that it was not prepared for a spill in the Great Lakes because most responses have been designed for salt-water environments. [node:read-more:link]

A push to end Arctic resource development

A new Arctic strategy published today would ban development of new hydrocarbon development in the region. The European Commission acknowledged that the EU still imports petroleum resources from the North but said it will work “towards a multilateral legal obligation not to allow any further hydrocarbon reserve development in the Arctic or contiguous regions.” [node:read-more:link]

Pipeline dispute taken to higher level

Canada has invoked a dispute resolution process in a 1977 pipeline treaty with the U.S. in a bid to keep a critical Enbridge pipeline from being shut down. Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac linking Lake Michigan and Lake Huron carries nearly half of the fuel supply to Ontario and Quebec but Michigan’s governor, fearing a potential spill, revoked a 1953 operating permit. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau now says “Canada has raised its significance for Canadian economic and energy security at the highest levels of the U.S. federal government.” [node:read-more:link]

Municipalities seeking billions

The federal government is being asked by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to provide $2 billion over the next three years – followed by $1 billion annually – to help its 2,000 members to guard against more climate-related events such as wildfires, extreme heat, drought and floods. [node:read-more:link]

Overzealous RCMP criticized

An RCMP officer ordering a journalist to be “silent . . . or you’re gone” as she covered protests against old-growth logging on Vancouver Island earlier this week has been criticized by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and others. “That's totally inappropriate,” BCCLA counsel Veronica Martisius said on viewing video of the exchange. “That officer has a choice whether or not he wants to answer questions, but you can't order a journalist around.” [node:read-more:link]

Pipeline politics heating up again

A pipeline carrying oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is the focus of renewed exchanges between the government of Ontario and Michigan, which wants to shut it down on the basis of environmental concerns. Natural Resources Canada says decommissioning the line would require a shift to “less safe, more polluting and more expensive” truck and train transport. [node:read-more:link]

Huge environmental lawsuit proceeding

A British appeals court tribunal has agreed that a £5-billion lawsuit by 200,000 claimants against an Anglo-Australian mining giant can proceed. The case against BHP flows from the rupture of a tailings dam in 2015 which caused Brazil’s worst environmental disaster. [node:read-more:link]

British Army sued over wildfire

A wildfire in central Kenya which razed some 12,000 acres of a private conservancy is causing legal problems for the British Army. The “official” cause of the fire remains under investigation but nearly 1,000 local residents and a lobby group have filed a lawsuit against the Army, which has used the land for training for more than a decade. [node:read-more:link]

Mercury pollution requires long-term care

Six decades after members of a First Nation in northwestern Ontario were first diagnosed with mercury poisoning attributed to pollution from a now defunct papermill, the federal government has agreed to pay $68.9 million toward a new residence for victims still experiencing neurological and other damage. New research indicates that more than 90 per cent of the Grassy Narrows population of some 1,500 have been affected. [node:read-more:link]

New climate change assessment under way

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has begun preparing the most comprehensive assessment on the state of global warming since 2013, meeting virtually this week and next to review their findings with representatives of 195 governments. Their work is expected to be a key element of the 27th UN climate conference scheduled for November in Scotland. [node:read-more:link]

Quebec abandons LNG project

Having initially supported a planned liquified natural gas facility in the Saguenay region north of Quebec City, the provincial government has done an about-face in response to public opposition. The $14-billion project would have carried Western Canadian gas across the province for shipment to export markets. [node:read-more:link]

Renewed U.S. climate push

Allison Crimmins, who has worked on climate issues for the past decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been put in charge of the next major U.S. climate assessment required by law every four years. Her appointment and others are seen as the end of turbulence in the Global Change Research Program office which coordinates the efforts of 13 departments and agencies. [node:read-more:link]

Deforestation hampering carbon uptake

Significant parts of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical forest, have begun emitting more carbon dioxide that they absorb, according to a team of researchers led by a scientist from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research assessing the impact of deforestation. Among other things, their report notes that regional temperatures rose by three times the global average during the hottest months. “This is . . . accelerating climate change,” says lead author Luciana Gatti. [node:read-more:link]


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