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How this man’s legal challenge could stall LNG Canada

Michael Sawyer

How this man’s legal challenge could stall LNG Canada

A massive new fracked gas export plant in Kitimat may have just received the go-ahead, but a Smithers resident is arguing a pipeline vital to the project should have faced a federal review — and he’s won before

LNG Canada has announced that the international consortium is ready to proceed with Canada’s largest ever infrastructure project, but, in a David and Goliath scenario, a challenge by a Smithers environmental consultant is aiming to temporarily derail or delay the $40-billion megaproject.

Michael Sawyer is arguing that the Coastal GasLink Project, a 675-kilometre pipeline running from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, should have faced a federal review by the National Energy Board instead of relying on provincial approval.

Although the $4.7-billion pipeline is set to be built entirely within B.C. — which would usually put it under the jurisdiction of the province — the pipeline, which would supply the LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat, connects to an existing pipeline system that is federally regulated.

Also, Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Pipeline Ltd., which means under the Constitution Act the pipeline is within federal jurisdiction and should be regulated by the National Energy Board, Sawyer says in an application to the board.

Sawyer-Challenge-CoastalGasLinkProject-NEB by The Narwhal on Scribd

“A pipeline that crosses international boundaries or provincial boundaries would normally be federally regulated,” Sawyer told The Narwhal, pointing to a 1998 Supreme Court decision that said if a provincial pipeline is “functionally integrated” with an existing federally regulated line, it becomes an extension of the federal line.

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

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

Greenhills coal mine

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

U.S. officials accused Canada of omitting information on selenium pollution flowing from B.C.’s Elk Valley into Montana waters

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

The International Joint Commission, which operates at arm’s length from government, has a mandate to prevent disputes over water quality in transboundary waters and is made up of three representatives from the U.S. and three from Canada.

It is hoped commissioners will reflect on more than a century of collaborative history, said the State Department official.

“The U.S Department of State and Global Affairs Canada hold bilateral meetings every six months to discuss a full range of transboundary water issues. Together we have discussed the issue of mining and potential transboundary impacts at every meeting for the past several years and the two governments continue to seek opportunities for collaboration,” he said.

John Babcock, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, did not directly address the letter from the U.S. commissioners, but said addressing selenium pollution from Teck Resources’ five open pit coal mines in the Elk Valley is a priority.

“Reducing the release of harmful substances found in coal mining effluent discharged into the Elk River and the transboundary Kootenay River basin remains a matter of key importance for Canada,” he said in an emailed response to questions from The Narwhal.

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

How a U.S. Company is Suing Canada for Rejecting Quarry in Endangered Whale Nursery

How a U.S. Company is Suing Canada for Rejecting Quarry in Endangered Whale Nursery

When a Canadian federal-provincial environmental review panel ruled in 2007 that a proposed quarry would go against community core values and would threaten right whales and other marine life in the Bay of Fundy, groups that had fought against the project believed that was the end of the story.

But, that is not how the system works under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has dispute settlement provisions allowing corporations to sue governments for compensation when they feel the local environmental approvals process has interfered with expected profits.

Instead of abandoning efforts to build a quarry and marine terminal on Digby Neck, Delaware-based Bilcon headed for the NAFTA Investor-State Dispute Settlement tribunal and, in 2015, the three-person panel ruled two-to-one that the environmental assessment panel had violated Canadian law by using the criterion of core community values.

Bilcon has claimed $300-$500 million in damages.

Bilcon project included shipping path in endangered whale nursery

The Bilcon NAFTA ruling was inexplicable to Nova Scotia residents as the company planned to blast within 50 metres of the Bay of Fundy and build a 600 foot pier with nearly 50 45,000 tonne vessels a year carrying quarried basalt to the U.S. through waters that serves as a nursery for severely endangered right whales.

ICYMI: 3% of the World’s Endangered Right Whales Died This Summer, Mostly in Canada’s Unprotected Waters

This week, the federal government and environmental organizations are in federal court arguing the NAFTA arbitration panel overstepped its bounds and, with NAFTA renegotiations underway, the case is being watched closely.

Ecojustice, working with Sierra Club Canada Foundation and East Coast Environmental Law, is arguing that Bilcon had the opportunity to ask a Canadian court to rule on the alleged breach of federal law, but, instead, went through NAFTA, which is supposed to decide only on questions of NAFTA law, meaning the tribunal stepped outside its legal expertise.

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

Unimpeded Rivers Crucial as Climate Changes: New Study

Unimpeded Rivers Crucial as Climate Changes: New Study

Gravel-bed rivers and their floodplains are the lifeblood of ecosystems and need to be allowed to run and flood unimpeded if species are to be protected and communities are to cope with climate change, a ground-breaking scientific study has found.

The broad valleys formed by rivers flowing from glaciated mountains, such as those found throughout B.C. and Alberta, are some of the most ecologically important habitats in North America, according to the team of scientists who have done the first extensive study of the full range of species that rely on gravel-bed rivers, ranging from microbes to bears. The paper was published online Friday in Science Advances.

In the region that stretches from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the northern Yukon, gravel-bed river flood plains support more than half the plant life. About 70 per cent of the area’s bird species use the floodplain, while deer, elk, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears use the plains for food, habitat and as important migration corridors.

While everyone knows that fish rely on rivers, the scientists found that species such as cottonwood trees need the river flood to reproduce and the ever-changing landscape of changing channels and shifting gravel and rocks supports a complex food web.

Gravel-bed rivers are much more than water flowing through the channel, said lead author Ric Hauer, director of the University of Montana’s Center for Integrated research on the Environment.

The river flows over and through the entire floodplain system, from valley wall to valley wall, and supports an extraordinary diversity of life. The river is so much bigger than it appears to be at first glance,” he said.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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