Last week hundreds of protesters gathered on Parliament Hill to oppose the tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline. Terra Informa spoke to one of the activists during the protest to get a first hand report and learn why so many people were willing to risk arrest. We take a look at biomonitoring, one of the most popular approaches to ecosystem management and assessment in Canada. And we investigate the rapid development of the oil and gas industry in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.
Jim Prentice extols energy projects
Last week CIBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, called on the federal government to use energy mega-projects to stimulate the economy. Jim Prentice, the former federal environment minister and now vice-chairman of CIBC, made the announcement. He suggested that by providing favourable conditions for large-scale energy projects, government could create jobs without the expense of stimulus programs. Speaking on the CBC’s Power and Politics, Prentice said that environmental assessments and other approvals are taking far too long. [Quote 4:28-4:34] He also stated that environmental reviews don’t always take economic considerations into account, and he recommended that final decisions should be left to politicians. CIBC estimates that up to a million jobs could be created over 20 years, if government creates positive conditions for energy projects. However, one of the frequent criticisms of mega-projects is that they tend to create mostly short term jobs, and that even those, all too often go to skilled outside workers, not local communities. Prentice spoke specifically about the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Newfoundland and Labrador, but also mentioned a number of other controversial projects that CIBC has their eye on.
More on this story: Toronto Sun, Chronicle Herald, Globe and Mail, CBC News
Green groups seek ban on new Ontario nuclear reactors
A coalition of environmental groups has gone to court to prevent the approval of two new nuclear reactors. A federal review panel recommended in August that the expansion of the Darlington facility go ahead. But in documents filed with the court, the plaintiffs say that the review could not have adequately assessed the project because no retractor design has yet been specified. They also raised concerns over its failure to consider the long term impacts of nuclear waste or to look into possible alternatives, such as green energy. The Canadian Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Northwatch collectively filed the request for a judicial review. If they’re successful, the project would go back to the review panel for further examination.
More on this story: Vancouver Sun, CBC News, Northumberland View, Toronto Star
First nations sue Alcan over water flows
In British Columbia, two first nations have launched a lawsuit against Alcan over water flows in the Nechako River. Alcan operates the Kenny Dam which diverts water from the Nechako to power their aluminum smelter near Kitimat. The Saik’uz and Stellate’en bands say that fish stocks have declined as a result of reduced flows and changes in the river’s temperature. The dam was built in 1952 and the first nations say that after decades of trying to negotiate a solution with the Alcan, the courts are the only option remaining.
More on this story: Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail
Protest in Ottawa Against the Keystone XL Pipeline
Last week, protestors gathered at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to voice their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would transport bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to Texas, where it would be upgraded into petroleum products. The US federal government has so far been supportive of the project with only the president’s signature still required. In Canada, the federal government has also been supportive, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling the project a “no-brainer”. However, several hundred protestors disagree, and they’ve been prepared to get arrested to demonstrate just that. Terra Informa Correspondent David Kaczan spoke to one protester, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo by phone from the site of the protest last week.