tar sands

From the Archives: Part 2 – Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline

This week on Terra Informa, we are re-airing the second part of our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.

Download this week’s show.

In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia.  Here is part two of the radio documentary: Rough Waters & Divide Valleys: Voices from the Route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.This week, from December 10-17, the Joint Review Panel conducting the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project will continue with the hearings in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The hearings will then continue on 4 February 2013 with 10 weeks scheduled in February, March, April and May. The hearings will be broadcast live (in English and French) over the Panel’s website.The Panel anticipates Final Argument (written and oral) to take place from mid-May to late June 2013.

What are your thoughts on the NGP? We’d love to hear from you.

Recent news:

Calgary Herald: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Yedlin+Federal+resources+minister+stops+short+endorsing+Northern+Gateway+pipeline/7644242/story.html#ixzz2EE660hdT

Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/haisla-first-nation-withdraws-from-anti-northern-gateway-group/article6012622/

Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Review Panel: http://gatewaypanel.review-examen.gc.ca/clf-nsi/hm-eng.html

For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’s, reports on the project and bonus audio, check out our special section of the website.

Advertisements

Petrol Spectres Haunt The Badlands, ACFN Takes A Stand, And PowerShift Flies Again

Halloween is upon us, and Terra Informa is celebrating with a visit to Alberta’s spookiest landmark: The Atlas Coal Mines. Delve deep into the dark recesses of Canada’s coal mining past, as we learn about Drumheller’s annual Big Boo! haunted mine tours.

Elsewhere in the show, we’ll take you to Fort McMurray to hear from supporters of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, as that band challenges Shell’s plans to expand its tar sands production. And we’ll cross the country to Ottawa, where PowerShift Canada is training hundreds of youth to fight for climate justice.

Indescribably spooky workers changeroom, with uniforms hanging from the rafters, and full body paintings on the wall. Black & White photo, with lots of contrast.

The Atlas Coal Mine is spookier than ghost-babies even on a regular day. Photo by Flickr user newelly54.

Download this week’s show

PowerShift

Terra Informer Kathryn Lennon spent the weekend at PowerShift 2012, which kicked off on Friday, October 26. A convergence of incredible youth from far and wide, PowerShift is raising critical questions about climate justice right now. Listen here as Kathryn brings us some on-the-ground audio from the events in Ottawa-Gatineau.

More info: PowerShift Canada

Atlas Coal Mine Special

With abandoned mine shafts and shadowy equipment looming all around you, Drumheller’s old coal mine sites can be creepy places at any time of the year. But the Atlas Coal Mine goes even further at Halloween – into the paranormal. Today’s host, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, called up Atlas Coal Mine Executive Director Linda Digby in Drumheller, Alberta to hear more about their haunt for a good time – and the true stories that inspired their Halloween extravaganza.

More info: The Globe and MailDrumheller MailAtlas Coal Mine

Taking a stand with the ACFN

On Tuesday October 23, supporters of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation traveled up to Fort McMurray, Alberta. Their goal? To take a stand with the First Nation as its members presented their arguments to the Energy Resources Conservation Board and the Joint Review Panel.

The groundbreaking constitutional challenge is over the Shell Canada’s proposed Jackpine Mine tar sands project. The project would extend the tar sands further into the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations’ territories and violate the nation’s treaty rights. Terra Informers Trevor Chow-Fraser and Annie Banks spoke with and heard from some of the powerful speakers taking a stand for the ACFN.

More info:

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Tar SandsYes MagazineNational Wildlife Federation, Edmonton Journal

Recent Updates:

Financial Post

Edmonton Journal

Winnipeg Free Press

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

What’s Happening

5th Annual Sustainability Awareness Week

The University of Alberta is holding its 5th Annual Sustainability Awareness Week from October 29 to November 1. Hosted by the U of A’s Office of Sustainability, this week has fifty different activities scheduled across the Augustana, North, Saint-Jean campuses. Space is limited for some events, so visit the Office of Sustainability website to RSVP today.

More info: Office of Sustainability – University of Alberta

Laugh for the Environment

On Saturday, November 3, Toronto’s Second City comedy club will be featuring Laugh for the Environment, and improv comedy show. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Toronto Green Community—a grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to engaging Torontonians in environmental initiatives at work, home, and everywhere in between. Tickets are $20 and available through Second City either online at secondcity.com or by phoning the box office

More info: Toronto Green Community or by telephone: 416-343-0033

Iona Beach Shore Cleanup

The Lower Mainland Green Team Strikes Again! Help clean up the shore of Iona Beach in Richmond, BC by clearing it of Scotch Broom—a pretty but persistent invasive plant species. The clean up takes place on Sunday November 4 from 9:45am – 1:00pm. Carpooling arrangements can be made on the Green Team’s Meetup page. Instructions, tools, and snacks will be provided. Participants are asked to RSVP for this event.

More information: Meetup.com

Cosmetics Company Fights Big Oil & Tsunami Debris Tells a Story

This week’s show takes us from the coasts of British Columbia to Japan, then inland to Alberta and back again. The shorelines of British Columbia are the destination point for debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami, and they are also the destination point for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project. We hear about a project the Maritime Museum of British Columbia in Victoria has undertaken to collect tsunami debris. We also hear about how LUSH, a cosmetic company, has partnered with the Dogwood Initiative, an advocacy group, to draw attention to how the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will impact Canadians.

Download this week’s show.

The No Tankers Campaign “Polling Station” at the LUSH store, on Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta

Tsunami Debris Tells a Story

When the 2011 tsunami struck the coast of Japan, many people lost their homes, their belongings, and their lives. Some of those objects, though, are beginning to surface an ocean away. Debris from the tsunami is showing up on North American beaches from Haida Gwaii to Oregon. Victoria’s Maritime Museum of British Columbia has stared a website to let users post photographs of the debris. Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke to the project’s coordinator, Linda Funk.

Read more: Maritime Museum of BC Tsunami Debris Facebook page, Times Colonist.

LUSH – No Tankers Campaign

A few weeks ago, Terra Informa launched our radio documentary on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. This week, we ask, what does a conversation about the pipeline how to do with a cosmetics company and a campaign?  LUSH is a Vancouver-based company that produces natural bath and body products. From May 29 to June 10 it engaged customers in stores across Canada in conversations about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The campaign is in partnership with the Dogwood Initiative, a Victoria-based public interest group.  Terra Informa correspondent Kathryn Lennon sets out to find out how a business and an advocacy group are working together. She speaks to Emma Gilchrist of the Dogwood Initiative, Brandi Hall of LUSH, and Shannon, a LUSH employee in Edmonton, Alberta.

Read more: LUSH, Dogwood Initiative – No Tankers Campaign

News Headlines

Sadly, there have been so many oil spills in the recent weeks that we at Terra Informa are considering starting a regular oil spill watch. Many people and communities all across these lands are already on high-alert for oil spills and regularly inform the media of the spills they discover.

Oil Spill Near Red Deer, Alberta

In this week’s oil spill watch, the most recent oil spill that we know of has occurred in the Jackson Creek tributary of the Red Deer River in  west-central Alberta in the Treaty 7 territories of the Cree, Stoney, Blackfoot, Blood and Sarcee nations. Approximately 475,000 litres of crude oil have been spilled into Jackson Creek. The oil has also reached  the nearby Glennifer Lake and Reservoir that provides drinking water to nearby communities. The company responsible for the ruptured pipeline, Plains Midstream Canada, has responded to news of the leak by shutting down its Rangeland operations. Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, was also responsible for a devastating spill in April, 2011.
This spill released 4.5 million litres northeast of the Peace River region in Alberta. A school in the nearby community of Little Buffalo had to close due to reports of people getting headaches, feeling nauseous and smelling a strong petroleum odor. Oil spills into waterways are considered very serious due to the possibility of the oil spill spreading very quickly in the water.
In addition, heavy rainfall and flooding have increased the water levels in the areas where the spill occurred. Since the leak was reported on Thursday by local residents in the area, reports have continued to come in about the smell of the oil and sightings of dead wildlife.

Read more:
http://www.news1130.com/news/national/article/371456–oil-spill-shows-dangers-of-pipelines-crossing-waterways
http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy%20resources/Pipeline+company+Plains+Midstream+reports/6751812/story.html
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/06/08/calgary-sundre-oil-spill.html
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/alberta-hit-with-another-oil-spill/article4241238/

Vancouver Centre for Emergency Oil Spill Response Closed

The federal government is closing a British Columbia-based command centre for emergency oil spills. Located in Vancouver, on Coast Salish Territories, the office is the west coast’s only federal spill response office. As a result of the cost-cutting in the federal budget, Ottawa has said it will shut down the office and centralize operations in Quebec. Environment Minister Peter Kent’s office stated “This will not impact Canadians or the environment” and described the office’s work as not cleaning up spills but rather providing information about environmentally sensitive land and species at risk.
The closing comes at a time when pipeline operator Kinder Morgan is attempting to double its Edmonton-to-Burnaby Trans Mountain pipeline and triple its oil exports to Alberta. This would increase the number of oil tankers to at least 300 a year. Additionally, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal would mean more tanker traffic out of Kitimat, if it goes ahead.
NDP environment critic Rob Fleming stated: “Any reasonable person understands that it makes no sense to even consider major pipelines and oil tankers while closing the Pacific coast’s regional oil-spill response centre,” Fleming said.
Read more:
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/spill+centre+moving/6486163/story.html
http://www.thenorthernview.com/news/148722275.html

Tarsands Counter-Terrorism Unit Created in Alberta

The federal government has set up a counter-terrorism unit in Alberta, to protect the tar sands. This team will be led by the RCMP and will include members of CSIS, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces and federal border patrol. This will double the number of police working on so-called counter-terrorism measures in Alberta.The federal government has recently labeled certain environmental and First Nations groups as “radicals and extremists”.
A representative of the unit,  Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, described the unit’s goal as being to look at any groups that threaten Alberta’s oil sands economy.In addition, Michaud stated that any targeted groups must have violence attached to their activities for the unit to pay attention.However, Michaud also stated, “That being said, in our role of preventing these threats from occurring, it is important that intelligence is collected against the activities of groups before they become violent.”

Read more:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/06/06/alberta-counter-terror-unit-set-up-to-protect-the-oil-sands-by-federal-tories/
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/ottawa-launches-alberta-counter-terrorism-unit/article4236422/
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/06/06/ottawa-sets-up-alberta-anti-terrorism-unit-to-protect-energy-industry/

UN Report Cites Climate Change as Complicating Factor in Human Migration

A UN report has recently been published that predicts an increase in the number of people displaced world-wide.“The State of the World’s Refugees” cites 26 million internally displaced people and an additional 1 million asylum seekers. UN Secretary General described the traditional drivers of displacement such as human rights abuses and conflict, are increasingly complicated now by factors such as food insecurity, water scarcity, climate change, population pressure and a growing number of people uprooted by “natural disasters”. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says that an international debate has started over how to address the growing numbers of people forced to move due to issues such as climate change. Many people have no legal protection. Guterres stated, “Global displacement is an inherently international problem and as such needs international solutions – and by this I mean mainly political solutions.”

Read more:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57445141/un-report-predicts-increase-in-worlds-displaced/
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/world/un-report-predicts-increase-in-worlds-displaced/521598

River Run 2012

Our last news story looks at recent actions in the communities of Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations. June 5 – 8 marked a week of actions, put on by the Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation), for the River Run 2012. Over 50 people from the  Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek have walked the 2,000 kilometres to Toronto, to raise awareness and demand justice for a series of wrongs still being ignored by the government. In the 1960s, a pulp and paper mill in Dryden, Ontario, dumped over 9,000 kilos of mercury into the Wabigoon River.  Residents have received mixed messages about whether or not to eat the fish from the river. Health Canada stopped testing for mercury years ago but Dr. Masazumi Harada, a mercury expert, has reported many continuing mercury-related health concerns for the residents of Grassy Narrows and White River First Nations. Dr. Harada reports that 44% of people born after the mill dumped its waste have been affected by mercury contamination.
Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Forbister also cites clearcutting as contributing to the damages to the local ecosystem.  The “Makade Mukwa Walk for Water” is being completed this week by a group of Indigenous Anishnabe youth.
Edmond Jack participated in the walk and said, “We are walking with a group of young people to raise awareness about chemical dumping and mercury poisoning that the government and corporations have caused over the past decades, and to keep that message strong for the next generation, to carry on that message so that people don’t forget that the water is still being poisoned.” According to the River Run 2012 organizers, participants are coming to Toronto to create a “wild river that will flow to Queen’s Park to demand long overdue justice for their people and protection for the waters and forests on which they depend.” 15,000 square feet of blue fabric will represent the river and mimic the way the river should flow in their community.  The rally demanded that the Ontario government acknowledge the extent of the mercury poisoning, apologize and clean the river. Additionally, Premier Dalton McGuinty was invited to try some local fish from the Wabigoon river.  This rally is just part of the many actions and events that the Grassy Narrows First Nation has done, in order to protect the land and the water and all that depend on them.

Read more:
http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/social-issues/first-nations-youth-walk-2000-kms-to-raise-awareness-of-mercury-poisoning.html#.T86in2oLjrU.facebook
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/two-ontario-first-nations-still-plagued-by-mercury-poisoning-report/article4230507/
http://rabble.ca/news/2012/06/week-action-justice-overdue-grassy-narrows
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/johnbon/2012/06/mcguinty-%E2%80%98no-show%E2%80%99-grassy-narrows-fish-fry

Impacts of Resource Extraction on First Nations Communities

Today Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network tells us about the effects of pollution on the reproductive health of First Nations communities. We’ve got a review of To the Last Drop, a film about the impact of the Athabasca tar sands on downstream communities. And to round things off we have excerpts of a talk by Lesbia Morales of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands on Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala — mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies.

Download this week’s show.

People with placards stand in front of a large black sign reading, "Tar Sands are Toxic".

Residents of Fort Chipewyan and their supporters gather outside the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ investors conference in 2008 to protest the impacts of the tar sands industry.

Erin Konsmo
This week we’re excited to be kicking off a new segment on youth and environmental justice. I was fortunate enough to speak with Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works within the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice across the United States and Canada. Oftentimes pollution is thought of as impacting the land and the water but what about the impacts that pollution, industry, contaminants and environmental degradation have on nearby communities and individuals and their sexual and reproductive health? And why is this critical for environmentalists to learn more about? What is environmental violence and how are communities defining, responding to and resisting environmental violence? Here is my interview with Erin.

More on this story: Report on “The 2nd Declaration For Health, Life and Defense of Our Lands, Rights and Future Generations” (PDF)

To The Last Drop
In our latest Green Screen Movie Review, we take a look at “To The Last Drop”, a film that focuses on the impacts that the tar sands industry is having on the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan.

More on this story: Watch “To The Last Drop” on Aljazeera’s website, read the Indigenous Environmental Network’s report “Risking Ruin: Shell’s Dangerous Developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria” (PDF)

Lesbia Morales
On Friday, June 1, Lesbia Morales spoke to a crowded room in the Stanley Milner Library in downtown Edmonton. Morales had traveled from Guatemala to speak about Mayan resistance to mining in Guatemala, mining which is done mainly by Canadian companies. Morales is the president of the CCDA or Campesino Committee of the Highlands, and she described a recent march that took over 1,500 people from the Northeast of Guatemala to the capital city, to share their demands with the president and the press. Morales described the impacts of mining to campesino and Indigenous people in Guatemala and the numerous projects and initiatives that the Campesino Committee of the Highlands engages in.

More on this story: Listen to Lesbia Morales’ full talk

News Headlines

Rainbow Lake Oil Spill
An oil spill caused by a ruptured pipeline was discovered by employees of another energy company while they were flying over the site. An estimated 22 000 barrels of a mixture of oil and water have been spilled into northern Alberta’s muskeg. Some have estimated this to be the third largest oil spill in Canada’s history. The cause of the pipeline rupture is still unknown. The spill comes just less than a year after the Rainbow pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline Ltd., spilled more that 28 000 barrels of oil in northern Alberta.

More on this story: Globe and Mail, Edmonton Sun, Huffington Post

Lush Cosmetics Anti-Oilsands Campaign
Lush announced this week plans to turn their 44 Canadian stores into polling stations to encourage customers to vote against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Enbridge’s plans calls for bitumen extracted from the oilsands to be piped across Northern B.C. before being loaded on to supertankers for refining in California and Asia. Recognizing that the Harper government supports oilsands development, Lush is now prompting customers to join Indigenous and environmental groups in trying to stop the project. Storefronts show oil spill imagery and raises the question: “Your land. Your water. Your jobs. Your choice?”

More on this story: Toronto Star, Yahoo News

Climate Change Responsible for Collapse of Harappan Civilization
The reason for the decline and collapse of the Harappan civilization, one of the world’s earliest and least known cultures, has been discovered. The Harappans spanned what is now Pakistan and were at their height about 4000 years ago. It was an urban society with large cities, a distinctive style of writing and extensive trade that reached as far as Mesopotamia. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, however, the Harappans did not attempt to develop irrigation to support agriculture. Instead, they relied on the annual monsoons, which allowed the accumulation of large agricultural surpluses — which, in turn, allowed the creation of cities. The disappearance of this once great civilization has been a mystery, until now. Scientists have discovered that there was an eastward shift of annual monsoons around 3900 years ago, which citizens of the Harappan civilization followed. Their society collapsed, and people moved eastward, living instead in small farming communities, rather than large cities. Agricultural knowledge actually grew after this move, but the civilization’s culture and writing system were forgotten.

More on this story: LA Times, Huffington Post, Eurekalert.org

Science Prodigy Raymond Wang
Meet Raymond Wang, a fourteen year old from Vancouver. He’s a finalist at this year’s Google Science Fair. His eureka moment? Rain hitting his roof. Wang invented a piezo-electric rooftop panel that generates electricity from wind and rain. He hopes to combine it with a flexible solar panel to generate power no matter what the weather outside. The grand prize winner at the Google Science Fair wins $50,000 and a 10-day trip to the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions.

More on this story: Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Straight, Energy Harvesting Journal

Part 2 – Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Welcome to the home of a special edition of Terra Informa. We are pleased to present our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.

Download or Stream Part 1 Here

Download Part 2-Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices From the Route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Subscribe to Terra Informa on Itunes

Like Terra Informa on Facebook

Follow Terra Informa on Twitter

In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia. When we started our journey and our research, it was clear that this pipeline was going to create a storm of debate. Media coverage would be extensive, and probably influential. But we also wondered whether it would really capture the full range of thoughts and feelings held by those directly affected. This documentary is our attempt to delve a little deeper. It is the result of conversations we had over thousands of kilometers traveled, in communities with the most to gain, and the most to lose. What we found is that a seemingly simple pipeline is creating turbulence in some communities, while building solidarity in others.
For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’sreports on the project and bonus audio,  check out our special section of the website.

Part 1 – Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Welcome to the home of a special edition of Terra Informa. We are pleased to present our two part radio documentary ‘Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices from the route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Download Part 1-Rough Waters & Divided Valleys: Voices From the Route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline (29:09)

Part 2 Coming This Week!

Subscribe to Terra Informa on Itunes

Like Terra Informa on Facebook

Follow Terra Informa on Twitter

In the summer of 2011, members of Terra Informa set out on a journey to follow the path of the proposed Northern Gateway from its starting point in Edmonton to its terminus in Kitimat, on the coast of British Columbia. When we started our journey and our research, it was clear that this pipeline was going to create a storm of debate. Media coverage would be extensive, and probably influential. But we also wondered whether it would really capture the full range of thoughts and feelings held by those directly affected. This documentary is our attempt to delve a little deeper. It is the result of conversations we had over thousands of kilometers traveled, in communities with the most to gain, and the most to lose. What we found is that a seemingly simple pipeline is creating turbulence in some communities, while building solidarity in others.
For more on the Northern Gateway Proposal and our documentary, including FAQ’s, reports on the project and bonus audio,  check out our special section of the website.

Mountain Pine Beetle & New Research On Oil Sands Reclamation

On this week’s show Myles talks with a previous contributor to Terra Informa, Rebecca Rooney, whose recently published research into oil sands reclamation has gained attention in the scientific community and challenged the industry’s public claims  regarding the quality of their reclamation practices.  We also bring our focus to another devastating force in western Canada, the mountain pine beetle, in an interview with researcher Dr. Janice Cooke. All of this and our weekly eco-headlines will give you your fix for Canadian environmental news.

Download this week’s show.

From Dr. Rooney's media presentation on the paper 'Oil sands mining and reclamation cause massive loss of peatland and stored carbon'

News Headlines

World Water Forum declaration falls short on human rights, claim experts

MPs’ plan to streamline environmental oversight draws opposition fire

NDP says leaked documents show feds abandoning fresh water oversight

Environmental crunch worse than thought: OECD 2050 report

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain pine beetles are about the size of the head of a match. Even for an insect, they’re pretty insignificant. But their effect on forests is hard to put into words. Over the past decade they’ve turned the mountains and valleys of central BC from lush green to red, wiping out the province’s lodgepole pines for hundreds of kilometres on end. Now they’re slowly moving eastward, with the outbreak well under way in Alberta. What does this summer hold in store for Canada’s forests? And how far east will the mountain pine beetles ultimately advance? We speak with Dr. Janice Cooke for the latest on the outbreak.

Bonus Content: Interviews with Andrew Nikiforuk and Dr. Dezene Huber

Peatland & Stored Carbon Loss Due To Oilsands Reclamation Plans

This week Terra Informa correspondent Rebecca Rooney took a break from reporting on the news, and instead made some headlines of her own. Rebecca holds a PhD in wetlands ecology from the University of Alberta and is the lead author of a new scientific study on the reclamation of the Alberta oil sands. The study quantifies for the first time the changes in the ecology and ecological services offered by the areas which are to be reclaimed after mining operations are complete. Terra Informa correspondent Myles Curry met up with Dr Rooney to get a summary of what these new findings reveal about the tar sands’ cumulative impacts.

Keystone XL Protest in Ottawa & Alberta’s Industrial Heartland

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.

Download this week’s show.

Protesters in front of the Parliament Buildings last Monday. Photo by Greenpeace.

News Headlines

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.