Across Canada environmentalists are fighting a series of proposals to turn healthy lakes into tailings ponds for mining waste. The rules that allow it fall under the Fisheries Act, and today we look at how they came to be and the battle that’s being waged against them. We also hear from a Edmonton builder who specializes in carbon neutral homes, proving that a cold climate is no match for good design.
Environmental News Headlines
The government of Nova Scotia extended a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Georges Bank until 2022.
The No Rigs 3 coalition of fishermen, processors, aboriginal communities, and environmental groups, has expressed concern that a blow out or large spill, such as the one that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico last summer would devastate the fisheries and would also negatively impact tourism in the region
Study released by The environmental law centre at the University of Victoria demonstrates that tax payers would be left footing the bill for an oil spill on any part of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline or shipping project
Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, said that total available spill compensation would barely cover a year’s worth of fisheries-industry activity on the B.C. coast, including fishing, shellfish farming and salmon aquaculture, according to figures from the B.C. Seafood Alliance.
De’Beers proposed new diamond mine could further disrupt Caribou migration patterns, as it is situated along the migration routestraditionally followed by the Bathurst, Ahiak, and Beverly herds
Caribou are highly sensitive to human disturbance, and Kim Poole, an experienced wildlife biologist warns that they already avoid the existing diamond mines in the Northwest Territories. However, he also cautions that it is difficult to predict what effects the mine would have on Caribou movements or populations, especially when one considers the cumulative nature of all the disturbances going on, climate change, hunting, predation, etc.
Using Lakes as Tailings Ponds
In recent years, environmental groups (MiningWatch Canada Council of Canadians Sandy Pond Alliance) have been raising the alarm over plans to dump mining waste into Canadian lakes. Under legislation introduced in 2002, firms can apply to have natural water bodies re-designated as tailings impoundment areas by the federal government. Critics have raised concerns about ground water pollution, the loss of recreational areas, and the ability of the sites to ever be reclaimed. They question why the Fisheries Act even has such provisions. Industry counters that the projects go through stringent environmental reviews and that they replace any habitat that’s lost. Today we take an in depth look at both sides of the issue.
Map of Schedule 2 Water Bodies
Backgrounder on Metal Mining Effluent Regulations – Environmental Law Centre
Carbon Neutral Homes in Canada
In Canada, the heating of our buildings accounts for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although we think that our cold climate necessitates the use of all this energy, in fact at least half, and probably much more, could be saved by building efficient, highly insulated buildings that take full advantage of the sun’s radiation in winter. If well designed, these houses are also cooler in summer.
However, cutting energy use by 50% is not enough for some. This week, Terra Informa speaks to a builder and company director whose new houses strive to be completely carbon neutral. Peter Amerongen (pronounced as it looks), works for “Habitat Studio and Workshop,” a company specializing in energy efficient construction. His recent projects in Alberta are showing that it’s possible to build green, even in a very cold climate. David Kaczan chatted to Peter about his work and his thoughts on how Canadians should be building their houses in the future.