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4 April 2014


CEC Issues Factual Records on Longstanding Complaints 11 April 14

The North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement includes the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC). Canada, Mexico and the United States are parties to the Commission. Environmental matters in each of the three countries are the focus of CEC activities. Recently two ten year old submissions moved forward, with the likelihood of becoming public soon. Citizens in all three countries make submissions to the Commission.

On 11 March 2014, the (CEC) agreed to make public the factual record concerning submission SEM-05-003 (Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo II), filed August 30, 2005, by Academia Sonorense de Derechos Humanos, A.C., and Domingo Gutiérrez Mendívil. The submission deals with an assertion that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce prevention, monitoring, oversight, and air pollution control provisions of various Mexican environmental laws in the city of Hermosillo, Mexico.

On 11 March 2014, the Secretariat of the CEC submitted to the CEC Council a final factual record on submission SEM-04-005 (Coal-fired Power Plants). The submission was filed September 20, 2004 by ten Canadian and US environmental organizations, represented by Waterkeeper Alliance and Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund). The final factual record includes comments received from the Government of Canada on the accuracy of the draft factual record.

In the Coal-fired Power Plants submission it is asserted the United States is failing to effectively enforce the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) against coal-fired power plants for mercury emissions that allegedly degrade thousands of rivers, lakes, and other water bodies across the US. Specifically, the Submitters assert the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to effectively enforce water quality standard and total maximum daily load (TMDL) provisions of Section (§) 303 of the CWA, and permitting provisions required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pursuant to §402 of the CWA.

View Guidelines for Submissions on Enforcement Matters
View April 4, 2014 CEC press release
View March 20, 2014 CEC article
View March 11, 2014 Submission to the CEC concerning Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo II
View November 18, 2013 CEC article
View January 27, 2005 Submission to the CEC concerning Environmental Pollution in Hermosillo
View September 20, 2004 Submission to the CEC concerning Coal-fired Power Plants
View CEC North American Agreement On Environmental Cooperation page
Visit CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters Portal

Source: CEC
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Hotel Proposed in Jasper National Park 11 April 14

A lodge, proposed on the shores of Maligne Lake, the iconic crystal blue gem of Jasper National Park, has three former Parks Canada executive staff urging the federal government to stop the construction. In an open letter to the Minister of Environment, Nikita Lopoukhine, Stephen Woodley and Kevin Van Tighem argue that opening a 66-room hotel on the lake goes against Parks Canada's ecological integrity policy of limiting development in protected park zones. The three experts also identify the implications this potential approval could have for future development.

Maligne Lake, the world's second largest glacier fed lake, already experiences heavy tourist traffic due to its pristine natural beauty, however, all tourists must leave the lake by 5 PM. Maligne Tours states this hotel would allow for fuller enjoyment of the lake's beauty and would "enhance" the Maligne Lake experience. The trio of former Parks Canada experts advocate this large development would jeopardize exactly what the tourists come to see – undisturbed beauty and an abundance of wildlife. Sensitive species in the area include harlequin ducks, caribou and grizzly bear.

A spokesperson for the Minister of the Environment indicated Parks Canada is reviewing the request to open Maligne Lake to the development, but no decision has been made.

View April 9, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View April 9, 2014 CTV News article
View April 9, 2014 CBC News article
View April 9, 2014 Huffington Post article

Source: The Globe and Mail
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Pro Keystone XL Pipeline Comments Linked to Oil Industry 11 April 14

A month long analysis of public comments on TransCanada's Keystone XL project linked more than half the pro-pipeline comments examined to people in the oil industry. As the U.S. State Department and President Obama, consider whether to approve the project, activists want industry linked remarks to carry less weight than those written by people without a vested interest in the outcome.

In a random sample of more than 1,000 comments in support of the Keystone, about 60 percent of the commenters' names were connected to oil and pipeline company employees, investors, lobbyists, attorneys and others working for the industry–all of whom could potentially benefit from the construction of the pipeline, the activists said. If built, the pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from Canada's tar sands region to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Building a pipeline that expedites and expands the world's dirtiest and most destructive oil mining project on the planet, puts landowners and precious natural resources at risk, and accelerates the release of dangerous climate-altering gasses is clearly not in the public's interest. It's in the interest of the oil industry, pure and simple.

View March 17, 2014 InsideClimate News article
View March 7, 2014 Huffington Post article
View January 31, 2014 Natural Resources Defense Council article
View Natural Resources Defense Council Stop Dirty Fuels: Tar Sands page

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IPCC 5th Assessment Report Confirming Climate Science 11 April 14

On March 31, 2014, Working Group II (WGII) of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the second of three reports for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. The second report focuses on socio-economic impacts of climate change, both present and future. The Working Group III (WGIII) report on mitigation of climate change has experts collaborating from April 7 – 12, 2014 in Berlin, Germany on its synthesizing four years of research into its production.

Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, made special mention of Canada's role in the face of climate change. Observed changes to climate are attributed to human-induced causes with very high confidence. An example is the decreased snowmelt runoff in the mountains in North America. WGII's report also discusses the effects of climate change on the boreal forest fire regime, with ecosystems experiencing increased vulnerability from extreme wildfire activity and regional drought. The report continuously states with high to very high confidence, (95% confidence) that climate change is worsening and caused by human-induced activity.

The third report of the Fifth Assessment deals with the mitigation of climate change, setting the technological, economic and institutional requirements that governments will have to incorporate on micro and macro scales in order to mitigate negative effects of climate change. The report is still undergoing completion, but a leak of WGIII's report reached the Guardian news agency, and apprehension towards the IPCC proposed mitigation measures is already surfacing among ecologists.

A British environmental organization, Biofuelwatch, states that the third report's strong recommendation of untested and unreliable technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS) is very worrisome. BECCS technology is not only risky, but has the potential to intensify climate change's negative effects identified in the first two IPCC Fifth Assessment reports such as erosion, water scarcity and agricultural problems.

View April 7, 2014 The Guardian article
View April 7, 2014 IPCC article
View IPCC Report page
Visit biofuelwatch website
Visit IPCC website

Sources: The Guardian, IPCC
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Toronto Seeks Enbridge Line 9 Environmental Assessment 11 April 14

Toronto City Council is seeking a comprehensive environmental assessment of Enbridge's Line 9 application through Ontario's Environment Ministry, despite the pipeline technically being a federal matter.

The National Energy Board (NEB) has approved reversal of flow and increased capacity of the aging pipeline to 300,000 barrels a day (up from 240,000 barrels a day). The limited conditions the NEB attached to this approval allow Line 9 to be "safe and environmentally sensitive", with no thorough environmental assessment required.

However, the 830-kilometer Line 9, now set to run from Sarnia ON to Montreal QC, passes through north Toronto and has become an issue for Toronto councilor Mike Layton, who initiated the motion for the environmental assessment. Toronto's expanding suburbs are now much more affected by Line 9 than when it was first constructed 38 years ago. Two similar motions put forth by Councilor David Shiner called for Enbridge to release more details about its plans with regards to emergency response and testing in the Toronto municipality.

"People in our communities have a right to know where these pipelines are and any work proposed on them," Shiner said.

Shiner stated he believes that the provincial government is avoiding the matter altogether, and is fully capable of conducting an environmental assessment. Nevertheless the Ontario government remains firm in its position that this issue is purely federal.

"It would be up to the federal government to determine whether or not they would want to proceed with a federal environmental assessment," said Lyndsay Miller, spokesperson for Ontario Environment Minister Jim Bradley.

View April 3, 2014 The Star article
View March 28, 2014 The Star article
View March 6, 2014 CBC News article
Visit Stop Line 9 website
View Environment Defence Line 9 - Tar Sands page
View National Energy Board Line 9B Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion Project page
View Line 9 Communities Local Maps page

Sources: The Star, CBC
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Release Bee-Death Studies 4 April 14

John Bennett of Sierra Club Canada Foundation says the Canadian government needs to listen to beekeepers who say neonicotinoid pesticides are toxic to bees.

"Itís the beekeepers who are supplying the evidence (of toxicity)," Bennett told an Ottawa news conference Wednesday. But their dead bees are being ignored."

Health Canada issued a report in September 2013 indicating detectable residues of neonicotinoid insecticides used to treat corn and soybean seeds were found in large numbers of dead bee samples taken in 2013.

"Residues of neonicotinoid insecticides were detected in samples from approximately 80 per cent of the beekeepers for which samples have been analyzed."

Sierra Club, the David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre and the Wilderness Committee have sent a letter to Health Minister Rona Ambrose, calling on her to take action. They say pesticide makers should not be allowed to sell their products until the studies are provided.

View March 27, 2014 One News Page article
View March 26, 2014 Sierra Club Canada media release
View March 26, 2014 The Province article
View March 26, 2014 CTV News article
View March 26, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View January 28, 2014 Sierra Club Canada media release
View Sierra Club Canada #SaveTheBees Campaign page

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UN Report - Right To Food 4 April 14

A new report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the "Right to Food" took aim at the basis on which food is produced and distributed on a global scale. Reflecting progressive analysis of our food system from experts like Vandana Shiva and Michael Pollan, report author Olivier De Schutter called for an undermining of large agribusinesses and an infusion of democratic control.

The report, which has been six years in the making, calls for an outright dismantling of large scale agribusiness to give people a democratic voice in growing more locally based food. Despite promises of the 'green revolution' which was expected to feed more people through high yielding crops dependent on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, 800 million people around the world remain hungry.

Although the report's recommendations are revolutionary, news of its release went largely unreported by major media outlets.

View April 2, 2014 viEUws article
View March 21, 2014 Common Dreams article
View March 12, 2014 Uprising Radio article
Visit World Food Programme Hunger page
Visit United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food website

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Omnitrax Churchill Port Plan Dead On The Tracks 4 April 14

Canada's federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt came out bluntly against shipping oil through the north any time soon, in statements that will stop plans to ship oil by rail through Churchill dead on the tracks.

Oil from Alberta and the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota would be shipped north by rail and then either held at the port or loaded directly into waiting ships.

"There are something like 350 water bodies within 10 metres of the track between The Pas and Churchill, so there is a tremendous risk of oil being spilled into the water, and it just won't be removed," said Eric Reder of the Wilderness Committee in Manitoba.

View March 28, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View March 27, 2014 Wildernes Committee article
View January 2, 2014 forum thread
View October 1, 2013 Global News article
View September 20, 2013 CBC News article
View August 23, 2013 CBC News article
View March 26, 2014 Planet Ark article

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B.C. Parks Open to Pipelines, Drilling 4 April 14

A discretely announced bill became an explosively controversial law, when the British Columbia government passed Bill 4, also known as the Park Amendment Act. Bill 4 will dramatically alter management of the provincial parks in British Columbia, allowing for industries, including energy extraction, construction of pipelines, and industry-led research, into these ecologically important protected areas.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's Peter Wood addressed the insidious nature of the Bill, stating,

"There has been absolutely zero public consultation, and the pace at which this was pushed through suggests this was never a consideration."

Andrew Gage, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, addressed the damage that something as inconspicuous as "preliminary research" for industrial developments could entail. As an example, the controversial Taseko Prosperity Mine's "research" consisted of the drilling of 59 test pits, eight drill holes 50 to 75 meters in depth, 10 holes around 250 meters in depth, along with roughly 23.5 kilometers of trails and roads.

These activities being now legally allowed within 'protected' provincial park boundaries is something outraging BC residents.

As Stephanie Goodwin of Greenpeace stated,

"These changes are deeply unfair to the British Columbians who participated in the land use planning processes that established many of these parks. We call upon the BC government to cancel Bill 4 immediately and develop alternative legislation that will safeguard the integrity of our parks against industrial activity."

View March 30, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View March 28, 2014 Vancity Buzz article
View March 28, 2014 article
View March 27, 2014 Huffington Post article
View March 25, 2014 DeSmog Canada article

Source: Vancity Buzz, DeSmog Canada, Huffington Post
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Experimental Lakes Area Officially Saved 4 April 14

On Monday, March 31 2014, a deal was signed between Manitoba and Ontario, the Canadian government, and Winnipeg-based International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) to transfer control of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to the IISD. The government of Manitoba will be providing $6 million over a six-year period to the IISD, with $900,000 going directly towards funding freshwater research and technology at the ELA.

After nearly two years of campaigning to save the internationally acclaimed scientific research centre, scientists and civil society welcomed the IISD deal with relief. Since May 2012, individuals such as Diane Orihel, aquatic biologist at the ELA, have been fighting announcements of closure, and federal budget and job cuts resulting in the dismissal of the core group of 17 scientists.

Although the new era of the ELA is greeted with optimism, there is some concern that the two-year hold on research at the ELA will have negatively impacted continuation of long-term studies (some as extensive as 40 years of continuous research). Additionally, challenges such as rebuilding the world-class but disbanded science team, and replacing research funds and grants, still remain to be addressed.

As Scott Vaughan, president of the IISD, stated,

"The Experimental Lakes Area has been directly responsible for literally hundreds of regulations around the world in order to safeguard water quality, to safeguard human health from different types of contaminants." The ELA is "the only whole-lake, whole-ecosystem facility in the world able to do this type of research."

View April 3, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View April 1, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View April 1, 2014 CBC News article
View April 1, 2014 Elizabeth May press release
Visit Experimental Lakes Area website

Source: The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, CBC
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7 Million People Killed by Pollution 4 April 14

According to a new report published by the World Health Organization, air pollution is now the cause each year of roughly 7 million people worldwide. New data reveals a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution with cardiovascular disease such as strokes and ischemic heart disease, as well as with cancer. These new findings are in addition to the already proven link between air pollution and respiratory complications such as asthma and infections.

The WHO stated that 90% of the estimated 3.7 million deaths caused by outdoor air pollution in 2012 were in developing countries. Also noted in WHO's report is that women and children living in poverty in developing countries are at higher risk for exposure to cancer-causing air pollutants due to their increased time breathing in smoke and soot indoors.

WHO experts are saying that more research is needed to pinpoint the most dangerous components of pollution in order to mitigate and reduce their use and effects. Responsibility is being placed on governments to control pollution levels through action such as legislation, relocation of power stations away from highly populated cities, and cheap, accessible alternatives to outdated wood and coal burning stoves.

View March 25, 2014 Aljazeera article
View March 25, 2014 World Health Organization news release
View World Health Organization Air Pollution page

Source: Aljazeera
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IPCC 5th Climate Change Assessment Report 28 March 14

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases March 31, 2014 its second of three reports for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report - a series of reports published every five years. These reports analyze the earth's changing climate based on new scientific methods and techniques and provide international information on how climate change will impact both biotic and abiotic life on our planet.

The first of the three reports was published in Stockholm, Sweden, in September 2013, and stated with 95% certainty that human activities were the cause of climate change on the planet.

Although the Working Group 2 report is not yet officially published, major findings indicate the most severe and damaging effects of climate change will be felt in coastal equatorial Asian countries, where poverty, combined with close proximity to the rising sea levels will wreak havoc on the high densities of human population. The biggest culprits for causing climate change; countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, will suffer less from our changing climate. Other complications predicted include reduced crop yields, more poverty traps, increased disease, worsened quality of living in crowded cities, slowed economic growth, an increase in forest fires, and bleaching of coral reefs.

View February 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
View March 28, 2014 The Guardian article
View March 28, 2014 The Guardian article
View March 25, 2014 Common Dreams article
View Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change media centre
View Manitoba Wildlands IPCC Reports page

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