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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 Methane Emissions Are Double What Government Thought: Study

BC’s Methane Emissions Are Double What Government Thought: Study

The province’s own research has found flaws in how natural gas was detected and measured.

Methane emissions from natural gas fracking in B.C. are about double what the government has assumed, according to a recent study initiated by the province and the BC Oil and Gas Commission.

The discrepancy comes from the method used to detect emissions, say the report’s authors. While the government and industry-led emissions studies typically gas imaging cameras to detect methane, the paper echoes a growing body of research challenging the method.

“Recent studies have shown that [optical gas imaging] cameras may not be as effective as originally thought,” wrote the study’s authors.

In the first public study of its kind, researchers used aerial methane measurements — captured by flying over fracking sites and production facilities — to get a clearer picture of their climate impacts. They found significantly higher emissions from sites like production tanks, compressors and unlit gas flares than those being reported.

“This is rigorous research that the government and industry can’t deny because they’ve been involved in it,” said Tom Green, climate solutions policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. “So now we have a much better handle on what those emissions are, and how that’s a problem.”

The research was supported by the BC Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative, a joint collaboration between industry, government non-profits and the Oil and Gas Commission, to support B.C.’s emission targets.

The findings have consequences for the climate — particularly given B.C.’s plan to more than triple its fracking activity by 2040 if the LNG Canada project comes online.

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

Speaking for the Old Growth

Speaking for the Old Growth

Famed tree botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger has a tough message for BC Premier John Horgan.

The world recognized tree botanist, biochemist and bestselling author Diana Beresford-Kroeger is angry.

“I’m furious actually,” she says over the phone from her home in Merrickville, Ontario.

“In this day and age I am furious that they are logging the last old-growth forests during a pandemic. It is sneaky.”

She squarely directs the bulk of her considerable wrath against the British Columbia government of Premier John Horgan.

“The whole idea of a democracy is to look after the whole,” she says.

And she thinks that fine idea has been undermined by Horgan’s commitment to the industrial logging of the province’s last remaining giant trees.

And all to take advantage of rising prices during a pandemic.

“It is so underhanded. It’s like watching a plumber perform brain surgery,” she adds with a ladle of Irish wrath.

“The liquidation of B.C.’s ancient forests and their rare genetic richness, represents a direct assault on Indigenous people and their ability to survive,” she argues. “It is a form of mass murder.”

Beresford-Kroeger knows a thing or two about colonialism. Orphaned at an early age, she just barely escaped the clutches of Ireland’s dreaded Magdalene Laundries, brutal residential schools for orphans, unwed mothers and prostitutes.

Raised by traditional Celts in the old ways and Brehon Laws, she learned how England’s colonialism systematically robbed the Irish of their language, customs and, yes, their once great forests.

Ireland once had magnificent forests but the patriarchs of the British Empire played a powerful role in their destruction, all for money.

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

Canada Spent $23 Billion to Support Pipelines in Just Three Years

Canada Spent $23 Billion to Support Pipelines in Just Three Years

Taxpayers should understand the financial and climate risks of the big commitment, says an independent report.

Canadian pipelines have received over $23 billion in support from federal and provincial governments over the past three years, according to a new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

The independent think tank crunched the numbers in a report that looked at the scope of government support for oil and gas pipelines.

The report looks at a broader definition of government support than just subsidies. Government support includes “any way that the federal or provincial governments promote fossil fuel production in a way that has to do with public money,” Corkal says.

Subsidies, on the other hand, are legally defined by the World Trade Organization as a beneficial financial contribution from a government.

Author Vanessa Corkal, policy advisor for Canada Energy Transitions at the institute, says it’s impossible to calculate the exact amount of pipeline subsidies because of a lack of government transparency.

“We thought it was important to highlight the high level of support the Canadian and Albertan government put towards this area,” Corkal says.

It’s important Canadians understand the financial risk governments have made by investing in pipelines, which may never get finished or never pay off, Corkal says.

But the report was also released one week after British Columbia experienced a devastating heat wave, which is likely linked to climate change and therefore the fossil fuel industry, she says.

Canadians need to consider “whether or not these investments are putting us on the path to deal with climate change at the scale and the pace that we need. And the pace we need has really been made clear this past week,” she says.

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

The Future of Fire in Canada

The Future of Fire in Canada

We’re on the brink of a ‘runaway fire age.’ Here’s why. And how to respond.

Five days after wildfire destroyed the town of Lytton in British Columbia killing two people and injuring several others, officials were still trying to account for some residents who were missing. No one apparently saw the fire coming. When they saw smoke, according to Mayor Jan Polderman, it took all of 15 minutes before the whole town was ablaze.

This was the third time in five years during Premier John Horgan’s time on the job in which catastrophic fires have taken their toll. “I cannot stress enough how extreme the fire risk is at this time in every part of British Columbia,” he said the day after the evacuation. “This is not how we usually roll in a temperate rainforest.”

Lytton is actually located in the drier, fire-prone montane forest which dominates most of the interior of B.C. Contrary to what Horgan said, this is exactly how things have been rolling since at least 2003 when more than 45,000 people were evacuated from Kelowna and Kamloops as fires tore through thick stands of forests filled with ponderosa and lodgepole pine, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce, trees that need to burn because heat from a fire is the most effective way of opening up enough cones to release the seeds they hold.

Hotter hells

The year 2003 was notable not for the amount of forest that was consumed, but for the number of people in the West who were in harm’s way…

…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 Looks like an LNG Loser: Report

BC Looks like an LNG Loser: Report

Prospects have been battered by global competition, volatility, delays and cost overruns.

Once touted as an economic powerhouse, the liquified natural gas industry is on the rocks, according to a worldwide survey of LNG terminals from the Global Energy Monitor, a non-profit research group responding to climate change.

LNG terminals are among the largest capital projects attempted in modern industry, costing up to $30 billion per project. Gas is extracted from underground deposits, piped to LNG plants where it is compressed by cooling to liquid form, loaded onto ships and transported to other markets.

“The sheer size of the projects has exposed investors to catastrophic losses,” said Lydia Plante, lead author of the just-released report.

The survey found that planned projects representing 38 per cent of global export capacity are facing delayed final investment decisions and other serious hold-ups. Cost overruns are common.

Canadian LNG is particularly bad off, Ted Nace, executive director of the Global Energy Monitor, told The Tyee. “The problem with the Canadian LNG expansion is that it’s especially vulnerable because Canada is a high-cost producer on a world basis.”

That’s because Canada plans to produce its LNG from fracking — an energy and capital-intensive process to access gas hidden deep inside shale rock.

Canadian LNG comes up short on the global market, said Nace, particularly when it competes against countries where conventional gas sources make LNG cheaper to produce.

And global competition is only getting fiercer. Qatar and Russia, for example, have vast supplies of cheap natural gas. “These super low cost producers,” said Nace, “are not giving up market share without a fight.”

…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…

Vancouver Council Votes Against Delay for Climate Emergency Plan

Vancouver Council Votes Against Delay for Climate Emergency Plan

City bylaw will require new homes built after Jan. 1 to use zero-emissions heat and hot water systems, effectively banning natural gas hookups.

New homes in Vancouver will be built with zero-emissions heating and hot water systems starting Jan. 1 following a city council vote this week.

Council was considering delaying the zero-emissions requirement by one year to give the heating and plumbing industry additional time to adapt to the new bylaw, which was introduced in 2019.

Council voted 6–4 to stick to the original timeline outlined in Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan. OneCity’s Christine Boyle, independent Mayor Kennedy Stewart, COPE Coun. Jean Swanson and Green councillors Adriane Carr, Pete Fry and Michael Wiebe voted to keep the original timeline.

Independents Rebecca Bligh, Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung voted for a one-year deferral. NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova abstained.

“I’m really pleased and relieved about it,” says Boyle. “What’s clear to me after years of doing climate work is that climate delay is the same as climate denial. We’ve been losing slowly for too long, and we don’t have enough time to continue to take that approach.”

Boyle was an outspoken opponent of the one-year delay. Earlier in the week she told The Tyee a delay would punish businesses that had invested in Vancouver’s low-carbon transition and signal to the fossil fuel industry that the city was willing to cave on its climate goals “with a tiny bit of pressure.”

 

…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…

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

Vancouver Council Pushed to Weaken Climate Emergency Plan

An industry group wants the city to delay a deadline for shifting from natural gas in new homes. At least one councillor says no.

A natural gas lobby group could delay action on a pillar of the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan this week.

The plan currently requires all new homes to be built with zero-emissions heating and hot water systems starting Jan. 1, which could effectively ban natural gas hookups in new homes.

But after the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating sent a letter to the City of Vancouver saying the industry couldn’t meet the January deadline and needed an additional one to two years, an amendment was added to the action plan that would delay the zero-emissions requirements by one year.

City council will vote on the amendment Tuesday.

The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating is a non-profit association with 270 companies across the country who manufacture and distribute plumbing and heating products. In its letter the association said Vancouver should maintain its gas piping infrastructure for the eventual rollout of alternative fuel sources like hydrogen or renewable natural gas.

The Climate Emergency Action Plan was first introduced in 2019.

OneCity Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle said that a one-year delay would punish climate leaders in the building industry and signal to the fossil fuel industry that the city is willing to cave on its climate goals “with a tiny bit of pressure.”

Over half of Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions come from burning natural gas for heat and hot water, according to the plan, so it’s hugely important for old homes to be retrofitted with electric appliances and urgent that new buildings are built to be as close to zero-emissions as possible, Boyle says.

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

Fact Checking Patrick Moore, Climate Skeptic

Fact Checking Patrick Moore, Climate Skeptic

The ex-Greenpeacer claims his new book is science-based. It’s gaining traction. But when contacted, researchers he cites said he got their work wrong.

Five years ago, the Great Barrier Reef was hit by its worst recorded bleaching to date, with media outlets around the world rushing to tell the public why that was putting the World Heritage site at risk.

Their stories were accompanied by headlines such as “Bleaching hits 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef,” “93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is suffering” and the hyperbolic “93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is practically dead.”

This bleaching happens when corals are put under stress and expel the colourful algae that are their primary food source. It’s considered a consequence of climate change because that stress can be caused by rising water temperatures, with the Great Barrier Reef’s 2016 bleaching the result of a record-breaking marine heatwave.

But former Canadian Greenpeace leader turned prominent climate science skeptic Patrick Moore was suspicious about reports of that bleaching. In his new Amazon-bestselling book Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom, Moore wrote “the careful reader would be hard pressed to find the origin of the 93 per cent as there is no record of it other than in headlines.”

There’s just one problem: such a record does exist. At least some articles referenced the work of Terry Hughes and the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce.

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

 

Change BC Fracking or Expect Damaging Earthquakes: Report

Change BC Fracking or Expect Damaging Earthquakes: Report

The new warning comes from a former senior scientist with the province’s oil and gas commission.

Since 2005, British Columbia’s experiment with hydraulic fracturing of gas wells has changed the geology of the province’s northeast. It is now home to some of the world’s largest fracking-induced earthquakes outside of China.

In 2018, one magnitude 4.6 tremor tied to fracking even rattled buildings in Fort St. John and stopped construction on the Site C dam. It was followed by two strong aftershocks.

Now, a comprehensive new scientific study warns that stress changes caused by the technology could trigger a magnitude 5 earthquake or greater in the region, resulting in significant damage to dams, bridges, pipelines and cities if major regulatory and policy reforms aren’t made soon.

Allan Chapman, the author of the paper served as a senior geoscientist for B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission and as its first hydrologist from 2010 to 2017. Prior to working for the commission, he directed the Ministry of Environment’s River Forecast Centre, which forecast floods and droughts.

Chapman, now an independent geoscientist, said that he felt compelled to write the paper because researchers have concluded that fracking “induced earthquakes don’t have an upper limit” in terms of magnitude.

In addition, “there is a clear and present public safety and infrastructure risk that remains unaddressed by the regulator and the B.C. government.”

B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission rejected Chapman’s conclusions in a statement to The Tyee, saying his study contained “speculation.”

Recent events in China’s Sichuan province prove that fracking can trigger large and destructive earthquakes.

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

Jason Kenney’s Favourite Researcher Just Gave Him a Headache

Jason Kenney’s Favourite Researcher Just Gave Him a Headache

What does the UCP do now that Vivian Krause says she never said Canadian enviro groups were being used by US oil interests?

What is the United Conservative Party’s position, pray, about Vancouver blogger Vivian Krause’s bombshell assertion she always understood the environmental conspiracy to landlock Alberta’s oilsands she promoted so energetically had nothing to do with the U.S. oil industry advancing its interests at Canada’s expense?

Wherever it came from, the notion big American corporations and foundations were bankrolling Canadian environmental charities to achieve a market advantage over their supposedly more ethical Canadian counterparts was at the heart of Premier Jason Kenney’s successful crusade to unite the right, drive the Alberta NDP from power, and restore Conservative rule in Wild Rose Country.

Whatever the UCP’s favourite researcher has been saying — and there was vigorous public discussion about that last week — her statement that she has never accused environmental organizations of being used by U.S. oil interests to landlock Canadian bitumen arrived with the force of a thunderclap.

“‘No evidence’: Researcher behind ‘anti-Alberta’ inquiry backs off assertion,” said the headlines on the Edmonton JournalToronto StarGlobal NewsCTV and other websites, all of which published a short, early story by the Canadian Press.

If nothing else, this certainly suggests mainstream Alberta news media, mostly sympathetic to the UCP, had always assumed the conspiracy theory originated with Krause, whose work was championed by the UCP and fossil fuel industry groups like the powerful Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

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

The Pandemic Speaks

The Pandemic Speaks

Are you finally ready to listen to me now? If so, here are my 10 timeless truths.

Audi, vide, tace. I have been trying to engage you in conversation for more than a year, but you have not listened.

Perhaps you don’t want to grasp the truths I have to offer. They are gifts really, but I know you will never see my generosity in that light. Such fear. Such ignorance. Ad altiora tendo.

But I am bound by ancient oaths and I must deliver these few plain lessons as I have faithfully done for thousands of years.

I read confusion on your face.

Did you think that I would speak with the rage of Moses, the indignation of Isaiah?

Or did you think I would appear in Marvel cape on a TikTok video?

Did you expect me to play chess with your armoured ego like Death in The Seventh Seal?

No matter. Let me start my instruction by reminding you of my curriculum vitae. I earned it at the finest university: the diversity of life over the history of time.

For millennia, I have laboured in the natural world, imposing limits and borders in places you seek to globalize with your technologies and economies. Do you really think the world will be more secure when bits of plastic outnumber fish?

I have but one non-linear mission, and that is to celebrate and restore diversity.

Your rising and falling civilizations cultivate fragility, and that is simply the way of things. While you seek to build great walls of stability, I bring volatility. This tension explains why we collide like two rams on the mountain of history.

…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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