Ecojustice recaps the week in Canadian environmental news: August 31, 2012
This week's recap features a letter to Canadians from Environment Minister Peter Kent, staff lawyer Karen Campbell talks to CBC News about Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion, an oilsands infographic and more.
By Pierre Hamilton, Communications Associate
Summer’s almost gone and it’s quiet in our Toronto office, which made it easy to root through all the environmental news that happened this week. What do you need to know? Well, Environment Minister Peter Kent wrote a letter to Canadians, Ecojustice was on CBC TV, Arctic sea ice levels are at an all time low and actor/director Clint Eastwood delivered a rambling speech at the Republican National Convention. You won’t read that last story in this recap, but you will find other relevant environmental news if you follow this post to its end.
If you want to learn how we help Canadians like you protect and restore their environment, sign up here.
Climate & Energy
Tanker traffic & Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion in B.C.
- CBC TV reporter Mychalo Prystrupa asked for our opinion on Wednesday. He wanted to know whether Vancouver could handle a proposed huge increase in oil tankers if Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion was approved. Staff lawyer Karen Campbell, who is helping a group of landowners protect themselves from a Kinder Morgan oil spill, gave him our perspective. See it below.
Infographic: How Tar Sands Oil is produced
- National Public Radio is educating Americans on tar sands development and extraction in the Science and Energy section of their website. See the infographic here.
Infographic: Meeting with Canada's Environment Minister
- Greenpeace’s Keith Stewart relayed an interesting factoid about the relationship between the federal government and Big Oil: “In the past 18 months, Canada’s Environment Minister met 48 times with oil and gas lobbyists and held only seven meetings with environmental organizations.” Learn more at Greenpeace's blog.
Infographic: Arctic sea ice levels are low
- Our online coordinator Ben Parsons put together a great visual this week after learning that satellites show sea ice in Arctic is at a record low.
From The New York Times: “Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.”
People & Health
Dear Canadians, we’re still your environmental defenders
- Environment Minister Peter Kent told Canadians that environmental protection was still a federal priority even though they just cancelled almost 3,000 environmental assessments. Imagine a pro and con list that you draft before making an important decision. That’s what an environmental assessment is to me, but our lawyers and scientists will tell you it’s more complicated than that. Ultimately, the important decision is whether an industrial project threatens your health, my health and the health of the many species that inhabit our environment.
- Environmental assessment (EA) is one of those grey, blurry areas of modern bureaucratic practice: often misunderstood, sometimes misused, but mostly ignored by the average citizen. Yet environmental assessment has a crucial role to play in our lives; it should be society’s pre-eminent tool to carry out farsighted planning for public infrastructure in the name of the public good. Unfortunately, Ontario has been long burdened with an EA system where the hard questions are not being asked, and the most important decisions aren’t being made – or at least are not being made in a transparent, integrated way.
― Getting to K(No)w: Annual Report 2007-2008, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
Oilsands developments may threaten Alberta's groundwater
- A new report says that more monitoring is needed to protect Alberta’s groundwater from oilsands development. The report was compiled by the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, which is funded by industry and government. “Changes in groundwater ‘may be a concern for fish and fish habitat, wildlife and water supply needs for a range of local uses’.”
Wildlife & Wilderness
Video: British Columbia’s Sacred Headwaters
- Jason Paglia and Karen Tam Wu of ForestEthics emerged from British Columbia’s Sacred Headwaters with some amazing footage. Royal Dutch Shell wants to dig gas wells and run pipeline through the Headwaters, an important watershed that’s home to three major wild salmon rivers, grizzly bears, caribou and a variety of wildlife. When you’re done with the video, which is narrated by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis, you can get some more background from Jason in this Questions & Answers blog.
Photo of Peter Kent courtesy of Jared Purdy