Environmental Protection

EU plans gas and diesel limits

The sale of new gasoline- or diesel-powered automobiles or vans would be banned by 2035 under the terms of a European Union plan as a step toward reducing carbon emissions by 55 per cent. The European Parliament and member states must formally approve the agreement before it comes into force. [node:read-more:link]

B.C. mine worries Montanans

Plans by Vancouver-based Teck Resources to expand coal mining operations in British Columbia are worrying residents of a small town in northern Montana. Still suffering from the health impact of long-ceased local vermiculite mining, the town’s inhabitants fear that selenium already in their downriver reservoir pose a threat to their drinking water, but Teck says it understands that current selenium levels are safe. [node:read-more:link]

Mining giant gets federal funding

The federal government is investing $222 million to help Rio Tinto to boost production in Quebec of lithium, scandium and titanium, critical to the manufacture of electric vehicles and batteries. Announced October 11 by Prime Minister Trudeau, the funding is part of a $737-million eight-year plan to reduce carbon emissions at the Anglo-Australian company’s Sorel-Tracy operation. [node:read-more:link]

Western autonomy gaining ground?

Claiming that federal environmental policies would cost Saskatchewan $111 billion over 12 years, Premier Scott Moe has released a policy paper he says is designed to promote the province’s “constitutional authority and autonomy” over natural resources. Echoing Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, he said “it's time to defend and assert Saskatchewan's economic autonomy by ‘drawing the line’, taking a number of steps including the introduction of provincial legislation to clarify and protect Saskatchewan's constitutional rights.” [node:read-more:link]

South Pacific nuke testing fallout

A call for help by South Pacific countries to deal with the lingering consequences of nuclear weapons tests in the region in the 1940s and 1950s faces resistance within the UN from countries which tested weapons as well as other modern nuclear states. The call for redress is led by the Marshall Islands where residents facing ongoing issues with high cancer rates and embargoes against visiting former test sites. [node:read-more:link]

Another Nord Stream leak confirmed

Amidst speculation about sabotage, Sweden said today that its coast guard had found a new leak in the Russian natural gas pipelines which supply the European Union. Denmark and Sweden had reported other leaks this week. NATO says they were “deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage” but Russia calls the suggestion that it had caused the leaks “predictable and stupid,” saying they had occurred in “zones controlled by American intelligence.” [node:read-more:link]

Enhanced petroleum recovery approved by U.K.

Fracking, the environmentally-contentious technique for enhancing oil and natural gas recovery still employed in parts of Alberta and northeastern B.C., is set to resume in Britain after a three-year moratorium. The government announced the decision September 22 despite a British Geological Survey’s position that understanding fracking’s impact remains limited but Business & Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said strengthening energy security amidst growing global uncertainty is “an absolute priority” for the government. [node:read-more:link]

Looming ecodisaster in Red Sea

Canada has sent $2.5 million to the UN in response to an appeal months ago for help in salvaging a decaying oil storage and offloading tanker in the Red Sea off Yemen, but the UN is still waiting for other countries to fulfill pledges made months ago. The tanker, which has seen little to no maintenance since 2015, contains some 223,000 cubic metres of crude. Warning that time is running to prevent a major environmental disaster, the UN estimated that a clean-up would cost at least US$20 billion. [node:read-more:link]

Nuclear plant power restored amid conflict

After being shut down last week because electricity was not available from the national power grid, Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, the largest in Europe, has begun receiving power again after power lines damaged by artillery shelling in the area were repaired. All six reactors remain shut down, but the plant needs external power to cool them and avert a meltdown in a situation the UN says remains precarious. [node:read-more:link]

Canada has major EV opportunity

Researchers at Simon Fraser University in B.C. and the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing in Ontario say in a new report that Canada has a brief window of opportunity to benefit from the global transition to electric vehicles. “Canada has all the right ingredients to be a battery powerhouse,” says one of the report’s authors. “But it's vital that Canada acts swiftly and decisively, or it risks squandering thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.” [node:read-more:link]

Conservative MP quits caucus

Quebec MP Alain Rayes announced September 13 that he is leaving the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent. Having supported Jean Charest’s bid for the party leadership, he cited concerns about law and order, environmental issues and the importance of respect between elected officials as Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre takes over as leader. [node:read-more:link]

No climate change backsliding: UN

The European Union, in an escalating standoff with Russia over natural gas supplies, is being urged by the UN not to potentially undermine climate change mitigation by burning other fossil fuels this winter. “In the face of soaring energy prices which threaten to impact the most vulnerable as winter approaches, some EU member states are turning to investments in fossil fuels infrastructure and supplies,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Commissioner Nada al-Nashif of Jordan said September 12. “There is no room for backtracking in the face of the ongoing climate crisis.” [node:read-more:link]

Zaporizhzhia plant shut down

The last operating reactor at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Europe’s largest and one of the biggest in the world, was shut down September 11 to reduce the threat of a radiation disaster amid the ongoing campaign against Russia. Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces near the plant has fueled fears of widespread contamination akin to that after the 1986 reactor explosion. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian trash found in Pacific

Results of a peer-reviewed scientific study found that a total of 89 per cent of identifiable plastics found in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between Hawaii and California in 2019 was from five countries: Japan (36 per cent), China (32), Korea (10), U.S. (7) and Taiwan (6). However, Canada was identified as another “significant” source with 4.7 per cent and the researchers linked much of the overall debris to the international fishery. [node:read-more:link]


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