Home » Posts tagged 'Andrew MacLeod'

Tag Archives: Andrew MacLeod

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

BC’s Faltering Effort to Manage Water Use Brings a Looming Crisis

BC’s Faltering Effort to Manage Water Use Brings a Looming Crisis

Thousands of groundwater users could be cut off in March as they fail to apply for water licences. Critics blame government inaction.

The way it looks to David Slade, a water-well driller with 50 years of experience, some 15,000 British Columbia groundwater users are going to become criminals overnight next March.

“That certainly seems to be the trajectory we’re on now,” said Slade, who is based on Vancouver Island and is a past president of the B.C. Groundwater Association.

Existing users of groundwater — generally from wells or dugouts — for agriculture, industry or business have until March 1 to get licences. So far, fewer than one-quarter of the affected water users have applied. People using well water for household use are exempt from the requirement but are encouraged to register their wells to help government manage the resource.

“I don’t know if it’s willful ignorance, or just people are ignoring it in hopes it will go away,” Slade said.

Former civil servants and others with knowledge of the situation are warning that few people are aware there is a crunch coming that could have severe consequences for water users, food security and the wider economy.

Even people like Slade who believe the change is badly needed say the government has bungled its implementation.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration all around, and it’s because the government, in my mind, hasn’t taken this file seriously,” said Slade. “It’s a big story but it hasn’t gotten much traction. It’s going to be a big story.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC’s Utilities Commission Blocks Climate Goals, Say Enviro Groups

BC’s Utilities Commission Blocks Climate Goals, Say Enviro Groups

The regulator of BC Hydro needs a new ‘energy justice’ mandate, province told.

Advocacy groups are encouraging the British Columbia government to overhaul the commission that regulates BC Hydro and other utilities so that it can better support a transition to cleaner energy and other provincial goals.

With processes coming early next year that will determine energy policy for years into the future, widening the B.C. Utilities Commission’s mandate needs to happen soon, the seven groups say.

“The BCUC now makes its decisions in largely the same way it has since its inception,” said Dylan Heerema, the policy and research lead on community energy for one of the groups, Ecotrust Canada. “It tries to keep rates as low as possible and tries to maximize the economic efficiency of the utilities’ operations across all of the ratepayers.”

That mandate made sense 50 years ago amid concerns that utilities would take advantage of their monopolies to make rates unfairly high, he said, but now that economic lens has become a “significant barrier” to needed change.

Ecotrust and the other groups sent a June 17 letter to B.C. Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Minister Bruce Ralston and Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman. In it they argued changes need to be made before 2022 when the BCUC will consider BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan as well as the utility’s Rate Design Application.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC’s Axed Climate Action Fund Worries Municipalities

BC’s Axed Climate Action Fund Worries Municipalities

Government promises replacement for program that helped towns and cities reduce emissions.

After abruptly cancelling a program that helped local governments fund projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, B.C. Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne says she’s committed to working collaboratively with them on a replacement.

“We’re here to listen,” she said this week. “I certainly hear from local governments on my monthly calls and am hearing from local governments about those ambitious climate action goals that they have. We’ll be working with them to develop a new program and I’m really looking forward to that.”

In mid-May Osborne’s ministry let local governments know it was cancelling the $8.4-million-a-year Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program that had been in place since 2010.

Under the program, originally intended as an incentive to join the province’s climate action charter, the province returns the money that local governments pay in carbon taxes to be invested in climate action.

Municipalities have used the funding for a wide variety of projects such as restoring habitat, planting trees, conserving water, adding cycling infrastructure, starting composting programs, adding electric vehicle charging stations and installing energy-efficient lighting and heating. In 2018, the program funded 2,723 projects around the province.

Brian Frenkel, the president of the Union of BC Municipalities and a Vanderhoof city councillor, initially said UBCM members were “puzzled” by the province unilaterally cancelling the program without consulting them.

“The UBCM Executive has received an outpouring of responses from our membership since Ministry staff informed local governments this would be the final year for CARIP,” Frenkel later wrote in a May 28 letter to Osborne.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Monumental Steps’ on Protecting Old Growth Says Horgan. Critics Aren’t Convinced

‘Monumental Steps’ on Protecting Old Growth Says Horgan. Critics Aren’t Convinced

BC defers logging of southern Vancouver Island old growth after months of protests and blockades.

The British Columbia cabinet has agreed to defer the logging of 2,000 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek watershed and the Central Walbran Valley, Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday.

The two-year deferrals fulfil a request made by the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations, but are unlikely to satisfy people who have been blocking logging activity in the area between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan on southern Vancouver Island.

“These are monumental steps,” Horgan said. “I know it appears at the moment to be just another announcement by another premier, but these announcements are transformative for an industry that has been foundational to British Columbia’s success and will be foundational to our future success, but it has to be done in a different way.”

The deferral areas shown on maps the government released include 884 hectares of old-growth forest in the Fairy Creek watershed and 1,150 hectares in the Walbran. Logging is also deferred in a few hundred hectares of second-growth forests in the two areas.

The deferrals include a stop to new road building in some areas.

“We welcome the decision by the Government of British Columbia to approve the request made by our three Nations to defer old-growth harvesting in the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek watersheds for a period of two years,” said a statement from the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

“We will work with the Government of British Columbia and the licensees to monitor all forestry activity outside of the deferral areas to ensure that continuing forest activity does not impact the old-growth timber within the Central Walbran and Fairy Creek protected areas.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC’s ‘Intentions Paper’ on Future of Forests Is Panned for Lack of Specifics

BC’s ‘Intentions Paper’ on Future of Forests Is Panned for Lack of Specifics

Greens say failure to protect old growth breaks NDP campaign promise as protests continue.

As soon as the British Columbia government released what Premier John Horgan said was a new vision for forestry in the province, critics panned it as a status quo document that fails to protect any more old growth.

“I don’t know what they’re thinking, frankly,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee advocacy group. “They don’t want to take meaningful action because they’re worried about the consequences of it.”

The 28-page paper “Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia: Setting the Intention and Leading the Forest Sector Transition” sets out 20 “policy intentions,” many of which have been talked about for decades.

“Our forests are foundational to our economy and a way of life for British Columbians,” it said. “B.C.’s forestry policy framework, put in place nearly two decades ago, is inadequate to address today’s challenges.”

It includes policies aimed at redistributing forest tenure as a step towards diversifying the ownership of companies in the sector, particularly with an eye to increasing Indigenous participation. Other policies are aimed at improving the oversight over log exports, using managed burns and giving the forests minister and government more discretion over certain decisions.

There’s a policy to “Promote the use of wood and mass timber,” one to “Strengthen compliance and enforcement” and another to “Protect good jobs.”

Coste said that on a first read there’s little to object to in the government’s policy intentions themselves. “On the surface they look OK.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Governments Are Making Taxpayers Subsidize Corporate Cleanup of Oil and Gas Wells

Governments Are Making Taxpayers Subsidize Corporate Cleanup of Oil and Gas Wells

Companies are responsible for dormant wells, but the public is helping foot the bill.

The B.C. and Canadian governments have promoted a $100-million fund to clean up dormant oil and gas wells in the province as a “win-win” for the environment and the economy.

But the biggest winners may be the major oil and gas companies that own the sites.

“To find out the major recipients of this are companies that are perfectly able to clean up their own mess is not surprising, but disappointing,” said Peter McCartney, climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee environmental group.

“It’s another subsidy,” he said.

McCartney received information on the grant recipients from B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation in response to a freedom of information request that he shared with The Tyee. The document provides details on the first $50 million to be distributed in the province.

A quarter of that money, $12.4 million, is dedicated to cleaning up sites where Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is the permit holder. The corporation, based in Calgary, is worth $45 billion.

The second biggest share, $7.9 million, is for Petronas Energy Canada Ltd. sites. The Canadian subsidiary’s parent company is owned by the Malaysian government.

Media contacts for CNRL and Petronas didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Other prominent companies among the 41 permit holders listed include Enerplus Corp., Ovintiv Canada ULC, ExxonMobil Canada Energy, Husky Oil Operations Ltd., Imperial Oil Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Painted Pony Energy Ltd., Tourmaline Oil Corp. and Whitecap Resources Inc.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

the tyee, oil and gas industry, andrew macleod, british columbia,

BC Promised to Protect Old Growth. How Is It Doing?

BC Promised to Protect Old Growth. How Is It Doing?

Greens and environmental groups criticize lack of progress, but others defend efforts to make big changes.

Six months after releasing a major report on managing and protecting old-growth forests, British Columbia is either at a turning point, a standstill or both, depending who you ask.

Katrine Conroy, the minister responsible, says change is underway but takes time. Environmentalists give the progress so far a failing grade.

One of the report’s authors, Garry Merkel, captures the uncertainty when asked if there has been noticeable change. “‘Yes’ is the short answer, but ‘no,’ depending how you look at it.”

Merkel is a professional forester with 45 years of experience and a Tahltan Nation member. He and Al Gorley, a professional forester whose similarly wide experience includes a stint as chair of the B.C. Forest Practices Board, wrote A New Future For Old Forests: A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems.

In the report they made 14 recommendations that would totally overhaul the management of old-growth forests, starting with grounding the system in a government-to-government framework involving both the provincial and Indigenous governments.

Their second recommendation was to “prioritize ecosystem health and resilience” so that the health of forests comes first. It would mean a shift from seeing forests primarily through a financial lens where ecosystem health is viewed as a “constraint.”

Building on that base, other recommendations included protecting more old forests, improving the information available to the public about forest conditions and trends, and planning for an orderly transition of the industry away from a reliance on old growth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Andrew MacLeod, TheTyee.ca, british columbia, government, old growth forests, logging, 

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

BC Liberals accuse NDP of mismanagement; Greens warn public to brace for higher costs.

Premier John Horgan’s announcement today that the government will continue with the Site C dam despite massive budget increases and delays brought criticism from opponents and supporters of the project.

“We’ve seen mismanagement of this file,” said Tom Shypitka, the BC Liberal critic for energy, mines and low carbon innovation. “It’s a sad day for the taxpayers, but it’s a good thing to see Site C proceed for the future of British Columbians.”

Horgan announced the government will continue with the project even though the budget has grown to $16 billion, an increase he blamed largely on unexpected geotechnical issues and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now expected to be in service in 2025.

The Site C budget was $7.9 billion in 2010. When the NDP decided to continue construction in 2017 they increased the budget to $10.7 billion.

Shypitka said the cost of the dam has doubled since the NDP came to government and that the oversight committee it put in place in 2018 has clearly failed. “Under their watch, this project has gone off the rails. That’s on the NDP government.”

He rejected the idea the BC Liberals should have been more diligent before starting the project. It’s unclear how much of the delay and cost escalation can be blamed on the pandemic and how much was due to the NDP’s mismanagement, he said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Spiked. BC Profs Protest after Publisher Drops Book on Canadian Mining

Spiked. BC Profs Protest after Publisher Drops Book on Canadian Mining

UNBC researchers’ book alleging wrongdoing in Guatemala was accepted, reviewed, then cancelled.

Two British Columbia university professors are accusing a major academic publisher of blocking scrutiny of Canadian mining companies by cancelling publication of their book.

“We have a responsibility to publicize what happened,” wrote University of Northern British Columbia geography professor and department chair Catherine Nolin and UNBC adjunct professor Grahame Russell in an open letter to Springer Nature. Russell lives in Toronto and runs UNBC field courses in Guatemala with Nolin.

Nolin and Russell co-edited Canadian Mining in the Aftermath of Genocides in Guatemala: The Violence, Corruption, and Impunity of Contemporary Predatory Mineral Exploitation. Russell is also a founder and director of the advocacy group Rights Action.

The book had passed peer review and was ready last February for publication, but after several months delay Springer Nature notified them that after a legal review it had decided to cancel their contract and return the rights to the manuscript to them. It cited libel concerns.

“They didn’t engage in any sort of tweaks,” Russell said in a Zoom call. “We didn’t think it would be five months of silence and then shut the door.”

Headquartered in Europe, Springer Nature publishes thousands of titles a year according to its website, as well as journals including Nature.

“A major theme addressed in the articles, testimonies and analysis that comprise our book is the endemic corruption and impunity with which the mining companies addressed in the book have, variously, been able to operate in Guatemala, with their Guatemalan economic and political partners,” Nolin and Russell wrote in their letter.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

RCMP Accused of Creating ‘Crisis of Press Freedom’ in Wet’suwet’en Raids

Limits on reporters’ access, threats of arrest bring criticism from media, journalism groups.

Wetsuweten-Essay-Media-Arrestees.jpg
RCMP officers forced media back into confined area far from people being arrested at Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, says The Tyee’s Amanda Follett Hosgood. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

The RCMP’s handling of the enforcement of an injunction in Wet’suwet’en territory has generated accusations that police unnecessarily interfered with reporters doing their jobs. 

“This is them trying to control the media and block information getting out to the public, and that’s why it’s a misuse of police power,” said Karyn Pugliese, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Regardless of whether or not we get it perfect every time, we just can’t have a functioning democracy without media keeping an eye on the state and reporting back to the public on what they’re seeing so the public can make critical decisions about what kind of country they want to live in.”

An RCMP spokesperson says the police did what they needed to do to ensure safety as they enforced the injunction, and B.C. Premier John Horgan says anyone who feels their rights were infringed has recourse through law enforcement and the courts.

But Ethan Cox, an editor for Ricochet Media based in Montreal, said the police actions were an attack on journalists and the public’s right to know.

“This is a situation, a flash point, a very severe crisis of press freedom that’s happening in British Columbia,” he said. “This is a crisis, and we clearly have a police force that is not respecting the rights of the media and that’s a constitutional problem. That’s not some small potatoes issue.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Political Parties Won’t Say What They Know about You

Canada’s Political Parties Won’t Say What They Know about You

Legally, some argue, they don’t have to. Others won’t be fully transparent. One expert says that’s wrong: ‘It’s not their data.’

PhoneOnKeyboard.jpg
Despite several political privacy scandals in recent years, there’s no Canadian federal law allowing individuals to find out what political parties know about them, and how. Photo via Shutterstock.

Despite recent scandals that raised public awareness about how political parties collect and use personal information from individuals, none of Canada’s main federal parties are willing to be fully transparent about what they know about you.

“I think the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal has raised these issues to public prominence, [as well as] the whole issue about how personal data is used in elections, how it’s profiled, how it’s used to target ads,” said Colin Bennett, a University of Victoria political science professor who is an expert on privacy protection.

“Political parties the world over have to do a lot to restore trust, and they need to be more transparent about what data they’re collecting, how they’re using it, and part of that is allowing citizens to have access to it if they wish it,” he said.

There is, however, no federal law allowing individuals to find out what political parties know about them. 

And when The Tyee tried to find out using British Columbia’s provincial privacy law, which does include such a provision, none of the parties fully filled the request, and two asserted they aren’t covered by the B.C. law at all.

British Columbia’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is aware of the jurisdiction issue. A spokesperson confirmed an inquiry is underway into whether the provincial law applies to the activities of federal parties in the province but declined to provide details while the process is ongoing or say when it was likely to be completed.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trudeau Declared a Climate Crisis, then Backed Trans Mountain Again

Trudeau Declared a Climate Crisis, then Backed Trans Mountain Again

Opponents slam approval of potentially ‘catastrophic’ pipeline expansion.

21292207.jpg
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the second approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Ottawa with fellow cabinet ministers. ‘We listened to community concerns and we are acting on community ideas.’ Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, Canadian Press.

A day after declaring a “climate emergency,” the federal government approved for the second time the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that it now owns. 

In announcing cabinet’s decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said fighting climate change and growing the economy are complementary.

“We need to create wealth today so we can invest in the future,” he said. “This project has the potential to create thousands of solid middle class jobs for Canadians.”

Opponents, including the B.C. government, slammed the decision and justification, saying the project puts the coast at risk, as well as tens of thousands of jobs that depend on a clean environment. 

The existing pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia has capacity to carry 300,000 barrels of oil and petroleum products a day. The $7.4-billion expansion project would triple that.The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

The federal government approved the pipeline expansion in 2016, but a Federal Court of Appeal ruling overturned the approval, finding that the government failed to adequately consult First Nations and that the National Energy Board’s review of the project should have considered tanker traffic and the threat to southern resident killer whales.

A year ago, the federal government spent $4.5 billion to buy the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline and take over the expansion project from Texas company Kinder Morgan.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Energy Minister on Her Site C Reversal: No Regrets

BC Energy Minister on Her Site C Reversal: No Regrets

Michelle Mungall once firmly opposed the mega-dam. Now she’s a powerful figure in a ‘complicated’ party.

Michelle Mungall says she’s not generally a fan of hockey metaphors.

But she uses one to explain what it was like to join British Columbia Premier John Horgan to announce the government would continue building the Site C dam, a project she had fiercely opposed in Opposition.

It was like taking the ice in a Stanley Cup championship game against a much stronger team, knowing you can only lose, said Mungall, the energy, mines and petroleum resources minister.

“You have to go out there and you have to do your best all the same,” she said. “It was a tough day for sure.”

But that’s the reality of being in government, not Opposition, says Mungall, first elected to the B.C. legislature in 2009 as the 31-year-old MLA for Nelson-Creston.

The Site C decision was one of the defining moments of the NDP government’s first year. While it pleased some supporters, including the unions whose members would help build and operate the publicly owned project, it was deeply disappointing to others.

A year later, Mungall does not regret the decision.

An NDP government wouldn’t have started the project, she said during an interview in her office, much of it conducted with her five-month-old son Zavier on her lap. But that didn’t make it easy to stop.

“That’s the nature of being responsible for decisions, is that you have to weigh out everybody’s interests,” she said. In Opposition, the NDP’s Power BCplan emphasized conservation and other alternatives to building the dam.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Premier Says Kinder Morgan Pipeline Plan Meets Her Conditions, Opposition Objects

BC Premier Says Kinder Morgan Pipeline Plan Meets Her Conditions, Opposition Objects

Project’s foes call Clark’s decision a ‘surprise to absolutely no one’ and ‘simply deceitful.’

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline has met her government’s requirements for approval.

“The project has met the five conditions,” said Clark. “We always said the five conditions were a path to ‘yes’ and that if the project met the five conditions we would say ‘yes’, and that’s where we are today.”

NDP leader John Horgan said he’s opposed to the project because it poses too great an environmental risk to B.C.’s coast.

The project would triple the capacity of Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, B.C. and add about six oil tankers a week leaving Vancouver. It received conditional approval from the federal government in November.

The B.C. government announced Wednesday that it had given provincial environmental approval, with 37 conditions, to the project. Clark also said Kinder Morgan has now met her requirement to make sure B.C. received a “fair share” of fiscal and economic benefits.

Kinder Morgan has committed to paying B.C. up to $1 billion as a share of revenue from the project, which the province will use to fund grants to community groups doing environmental protection work, Clark said.

A government backgrounder says the company will pay the province between $25 million and $50 million for 20 years, depending on whether or not the pipeline is operating at full capacity on its spot market contracts, for a total payment between $500 million and $1 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Major BC Liberal Donor Named in Panama Papers

Major BC Liberal Donor Named in Panama Papers

Haywood Securities listed as a shareholder in firms registered in British Virgin Islands.

MichaelDeJongDowncast_610px.jpg

Finance Minister Michael de Jong said he had ‘no knowledge’ of a BC Liberal donor being named in the Panama Papers. Photo: BC Gov’t Flickr.

The name of a major donor to the British Columbia Liberal Party appears in a database drawn from the Panama Papers leak.

Haywood Securities Inc., a Vancouver company that has giventhe BC Liberals $332,000 since 2005, is described in the database as a shareholder in companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, a researcher with the Dogwood Initiative environmental group in B.C. discovered.

According to the database, Haywood held shares in Kola Gold Ltd., a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2014. The investment firm held the shares both directly and in trust for a holding company.

The database also lists Haywood as holding shares in African Aura Resources Ltd., a mining company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, in trust for 22 investors. And it held shares in trust for an investor in Gem Diamond Mining Company of Africa, which is also registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the database on May 9. On its website, the ICIJ describes the Panama Papers as a “giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposes a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.”

A disclaimer in the ICIJ website stresses that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts, and the organization does not intend to imply anyone appearing in the database has broken any laws or otherwise acted improperly.

Finance minister won’t ‘speculate’

The Tyee’s call to Haywood was put through to company president Rob Blanchard’s office. An assistant to Blanchard took the message, but the call was not returned by publication time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase