Environmental Protection

Constitutionality of environmental law at stake

The Supreme Court of Canada has been asked by the federal government to resolve a dispute with Alberta about the legality of 2019 legislation empowering federal regulators to consider the environmental and social effects of major construction. Alberta Court of Appeal struck down the Impact Assessment Act, calling it a “breathtaking pre-emption of provincial authority.” [node:read-more:link]

Gas and nuclear “green” options in EU

Despite objections from some members of its environment and economy committees, the European Parliament has backed an EU move to label investments in natural gas and nuclear power generation as climate-friendly. This sets the stage for legislative approval by gthe parliament unless 20 of the 27 member states oppose it. [node:read-more:link]

Brazil loses record rainforest area

New satellite imagery from Brazil’s space research institute shows that a record area of the country’s rainforests, some 3,750 km2, was lost in the first half of 2022, the worst deforestation since the institute began its monitoring program. Destruction of the world’s largest rainforest has surged since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and weakened environmental protections. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. emissions agenda undermined

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lost some of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as the Supreme Court upheld a challenge by 19 mostly Republican-governed states, led by major coal producer West Virginia, which said the EPA lacked authority to limit emissions state-wide. [node:read-more:link]

Chinese “agents” target mining projects

Individuals described as pro-Chinese agents have been using social media to pose as local residents and environmental activists unhappy with rare earth mining projects in the U.S. and Canada, according to a Virginia-based threat intelligence consultancy. The misrepresentation is designed to give China, the largest producer of rare earth minerals, a competitive advantage. [node:read-more:link]

N.B. power reactor relicensed

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has renewed the operating licence for the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station in New Brunswick for 10 years only days before its current licence was set to expire. NB Power had requested a 25-year renewal for the reactor, which began generating power in 1983, but the regulator said June 22 that 10 years was “appropriate” due to “strong public interest” in a series of hearings. [node:read-more:link]

Renewed emissions challenge in EU

The European Commission and non-government organizations are concerned about several states’ reversion to coal-fired power generation to compensate for reduced natural gas availability from Russia. “We have to make sure that we use this crisis to move forward and not to have a backsliding on the dirty fossil fuels,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. [node:read-more:link]

Trans Mountain costs balloon

The cost of twinning the federally-owned Trans Mountain pipeline to B.C. from Alberta has tripled, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported June 21, topping $21 billion compared with an initial $7.4-billion estimate. Natural disasters along the right-of-way, coupled with environmental measures and increasing financing costs are cited but an aide to Finance Ministers said the project “is in the national interest and will make Canada and the Canadian economy more sovereign and more resilient,” [node:read-more:link]

Environmental legal fight escalating

The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled that the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority with its Impact Assessment Act which would subject energy development to increased scrutiny. However, federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is confident that a further appeal will uphold the constitutionality of the legislation passed by Parliament in June 2019. [node:read-more:link]

EVs driving power grid demands

The Canadian Climate Institute says an increase in electric vehicles sales, among other factors behind generally higher power demands, requires upgrades to the country’s electricity grids to meet rapidly growing demand for power. Otherwise, it warns in a May 4 report, the consequences could range from brownouts to failure to meet the government’s emissions-reduction targets. [node:read-more:link]

Arctic development challenged in court

Environmental activists are taking Norway to the European Court of Human Rights in what is considered a potential international test case of how much of the Arctic’s natural resources can be exploited. Seven other countries, including Canada, have interests in the region but since it is mostly marine, there is no international Antarctic-style environmental treaty protecting it from economic development. [node:read-more:link]

More tropical forest lost

Logging and wildfires resulted in the loss of some 11.1 million hectares of tropical forest last year, resulting in increased global carbon emissions, says the Washington-based World Resources Institute. While the loss was less severe than in 2020, the WRI says deforestation, some of it deliberate, continues at an alarming rate. [node:read-more:link]

Singh unhappy with environmental record

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has a three-year parliamentary peace pact with the Liberals, said April 27 that it doesn’t extend to the government’s “failure” to meet its own targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. “Under the Liberals, every single target that's been set has failed to be met,” he said. They're not taking this seriously.” [node:read-more:link]

Canadian emissions goals unrealistic?

The federal government’s emissions reduction target may be unattainable, says its own Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development. Jerry DeMarco said April 26 that he is particularly concerned about the role hydrogen will play in the energy mix. “Canada needs to be more upfront and transparent about their assumptions for what is quite an optimistic view,” he said. “They need to be realistic.” [node:read-more:link]

Canadian GHG emissions fell in 2020

Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 declined by 8.9 per cent to 672 megatonnes from 738Mt in 2019, according to the latest annual federal government report to the UN. The current government goal is to reduce emissions by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 with a view to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. [node:read-more:link]


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