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19 September 2014



News

Bipole III Now $1 Billion More Expensive 19 September 14

Manitoba Hydro says its new estimate for the BiPole Three project is $4.6 billion, up from $3.3 billion in 2011 and its original figure of $2.2 billion in 2007. Public hearings were held in 2012 and 2013, with environmental licence issued in 2013. Appeals of that licence, including to Cabinet, ended recently, with all appeals rejected.

The Crown corporation says converter station technology is the main reason for the price jump -- businesses that submitted bids are not planning to use new types of converters that are normally used for shorter routes. Hydro CEO Scott Thompson says the extra cost will be paid over many years and will only mean an extra $4 a year for the average residential customer.

The Conawapa converter station is in the Bipole III licence. Based on Public Utility Board recommendations, it is no longer needed. The Riel converter station, being built on the east side of Winnipeg, is also in the Bipole III licence.

“Manitoba Hydro always tells us about higher capital costs after the environmental licence is in place. The same thing happened with Wuskwatim generation and transmission capital costs,” said Gaile Whelan Enns, Manitoba Wildlands director.

View September 18, 2014 CTV News article
View September 18, 2014 CBC News article
View September 18, 2014 Winnipeg Sun article

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Beekeepers Sue Chemical Companies Over Pesticides 19 September 14

Saturation point. Too many chemicals covering too much of the arable lands we used for growing food. This is what is going on and why bees are dying. Too many chemicals being used over too long a period have saturated the environment and the overuse of pesticides has created a convergence of chemical factors in bee habitat.

Canadian beekeepers are taking chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta to court alleging their pesticides – neonicotinids in particular – are responsible for the massive outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder in the last few years.

Think of it like the way alcohol works in the human body. Too much alcohol over too long a period of time and the human body begins to shutdown. This is essentially the same thing that is happening to the bees, except the pesticides in the environment have built up and are causing havoc with bee colonies.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.

A survey conducted by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists found that of 100,000 Ontario honeybee colonies wintered in fall 2013, over 58,000 were dead or unproductive in spring 2014. Even taking a conservative estimate of 20,000 bees per hive, this means that over a billion bees died in Ontario this past winter.

Visit Ontario Beekeepers Association website
View Amended Statement of Claim
View September 11, 2014 Norfolk News article
View September 5, 2014 CBC News article
View September 3, 2014 CTV News article
View September 3, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View May 27, 2014 CBC News article

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North America Birds Now In Danger 19 September 14

Two recent studies explain in great detail that the bird population of North America is at dire risk of being substantially impacted by the creeping inevitability of climate change. Released Monday, September 8th by the National Audubon Society, the Birds and Climate Report uses seven years of research to examine the effects of climate change on 588 bird species. The second, "State of the Birds 2014," is a wider overview of America's avian health released Tuesday, September 9th by a 23-member coalition of federal agencies, universities and conservation groups.

Climate Change. We have heard a lot of talk about it. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) defines climate change as any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which defines ‘climate change’ as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’.

Volcanoes are a very good example of sudden and dramatic climate change catalysts. Humans have been recognized by the scientific community as perhaps the largest ever climate change catalyst the Earth has ever seen.

What does it all mean? Perhaps we should ask the birds that inhabit North America and that are dependent on insects for food. Insects require certain type of habitat to survive with regards to their own food needs. Habitats without an abundance of pesticide and chemical saturation. Birds need water. What happens when water sources change? When food sources are no longer in normal locations?

View September 10, 2014 Mother Nature Network article
View The Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report
View Nature Canada report: State Of The World's Birds
View World Meteorological Organization press release

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Lake Winnipeg Regulation - Hearings 2015 19 September 14

The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has been tasked with holding public hearings about the regulation of Lake Winnipeg water levels, and the issuing of a permanent licence to Manitoba Hydro to regulation water levels in the lake.

Last week the CEC announced that CEC hearings are moved back into 2015. This commitment for hearings is from Premier Sellinger. He made the commitment in January 2011, and then confirmed it again in a press release in July 2011. Terms of reference for the hearings have been in place since 2012.

Except these will be hearings without cross examination, without funding for participants legal counsel, without funding for independent experts who are part of participant teams, and without review of what Manitoba Hydro is providing as technical information. Early in 2015 the CEC will visit affected communities. And then there will be short hearings in Winnipeg. Then the CEC reports to Cabinet in 120 days after end of the hearings.

One has to ask - why the exclusion of outside information? No cross examination? No funding of participants in a supposedly 'public' process? No review of the information Manitoba Hydro is providing? We are talking about the same public utility right? The one owned by the people of Manitoba? What this boils down to is Manitoba Hydro not wanting any criticism of its use of Lake Winnipeg as a reservoir - and Hydro wanting a permanent licence so it can carry on believing it's assumption that artificially controlling the levels of such a large body of water could not possibly affect the health of Lake Winnipeg or cause the flooding of communities around the lake.

View more information on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page
View Manitoba Wildlands Lake Regulation Brief
View September 9, 2014 Yahoo! Canada News article
View February 5, 2013 CTV News article
View Living Lakes Canada information page
View Manitoba Government Lake Winnipeg Action Plan
View State of Lake Winnipeg: 1999 to 2007 Highlights

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Canada's Energy Strategy - Full of Words 5 September 14

The Premiers of Canada have all gone back to their respective provinces and what exactly will be the actions set in motion from all that talk? Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz hosted Canada's Premiers and their delegations for the 55th Annual Premiers Conference. The meeting took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island during the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference.

The Vision set forth at the conference - "Canada is a global leader in providing a secure, sustainable and reliable supply of energy that is delivered with a high standard of environmental and social responsibility, consistent with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to continued economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians."

While the vision statement puts a good foot forward it belies the reality Canada and the provinces really do face. Canada is not a global leader in supplying a reliable source of energy that is delivered with a high standard of environmental and social responsibility. This is hypocrisy - environmental and social responsibility are missing. Add to this the dismissal of Northern communities and concerns expressed by people across Canada about pollution from the Tar Sands.

Reduction of greenhouse gases has not happened, Canada is falling far behind the Kyoto Protocol projections, and in Manitoba there is no monitoring system and no reporting system to confirm or track reduction in greenhouses gases.

Prosperity for all Canadians? Tell that to all the First Nation communities whose rights have been trampled in the pursuit of profits as the federal and provincial governments to satisfy industry's thirst for easy money from energy and resource extraction without the consent of the First Peoples of Turtle Island.

View September 2, 2014 DeSmog Canada article
View August 29, 2014 The Council of the Federation Communique
View August 27, 2014 The National Post article
View Assembly of First Nations Honouring Earth page
View National Aboriginal Health Organization Resource Extraction Papers
View October 2008 National Aboriginal Health Organization report

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Imperial Metals - Polley Mine Disaster 5 September 14

The Mount Polley Mine disaster was a watershed event - pun intended- the likes of which the Canadian government and especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper certainly were not ready for. Swimming upstream against such an obvious breach of public trust is something to behold.

It's been over 3 weeks since the disaster began on August 4th and the breach in the tailings pond dam hasn't been plugged yet by Imperial Metals. Heavy metal laden sludge is still flowing down Hazeltine Creek to Quesnell Lake. Imperial Metals is getting away with discharging the contaminated water into Quesnel.

"The government isn't inspecting the mines, and the mining companies know it," said Glenda Ferris, a longtime advocate for environmentally safe mining in British Columbia. A landowner near Houston, BC, she lives beside the now-closed Equity Silver mine, which dumped acid-generating tailings waste into the environment in 1982.

The province of British Columbia has signed a letter of understanding with the Williams Lake Indian Band and the Soda Creek Indian Band to work in partnership on all aspects of the Mount Polley breach. The bands have said they’ll push for meaningful mining industry reform. Mining Water Canada says original estimates of the volume of the breach were ‘crude’. Imperial Metals is now admitting to 70 percent more discharge.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government, also based in Williams Lake, issued a statement Tuesday calling for better benefit-sharing for First Nations on major projects.

According to Elections BC's contributions registry, Imperial Metals and its various B.C. mine subsidiaries -- Mount Polley Mining Corp., Red Chris Development Co. and Huckleberry Mines Ltd. -- donated a total of $277,120 to various political parties and candidate campaigns since 2003. Out of that quarter-million in partisan financing, $233,710 went to the BC Liberals or its candidates, representing more than 84 per cent of its contributions.

Conflict of interest and lack of proper monitoring of the Mount Polley Mine are a toxic combination and together are sending ripples through the entire industry in Canada.

View September 4, 2014 Climate Progress article
View September 2014 Common Ground article
View August 30, 2014 Vice Article
View August 30, 2014 The Council of Canadians article
View August 13, 2014 The Guardian article
View August 13, 2014 Canada.com article
View August 13, 2014 Rabble.ca article
View August 6, 2014 Vancouver Sun article
View August 4, 2014 CBC News article

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Multiple Environment Reviews Summer 2014 25 July 14

The Manitoba NDP government has several public reviews going on during summer 2014. These include park management plans, a peatlands strategy for the province, and the appeal period for the Keeyask generation station licence. The steps for the Lake Winnipeg regulation review hearings are also starting.

Manitoba Wildlands is providing information about these reviews as most have not be announced in a government press release, and others are difficult to find on the government website. See our news item about the two reviews of the Manitoba Environment Act. See links below for information about these current and ongoing reviews.

Manitoba’s Peatlands Stewardship Strategy was released in early summer 2014, and it is under review until August 1, 2014. There is no information on the Manitoba Conservation website (see links below) as to filing public comments or the end of this public review period.

The deadline for appeal of the environment licence for the Keeyask Generation Station is August 2, 2014. Comments are sent to the licensing branch of Manitoba Conservation.

The regional cumulative effects assessment (RCEA) of Hydro generation on the Nelson, Burntwood, and Churchill rivers water basin is ongoing. The Manitoba Conservation public registry has a file and page for these materials. The CEC made a recommendation for this RCEA in its Bipole III report to the minister.

The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) is planning its hearings and community visits about the Regulation of Lake Winnipeg. The overdue filing from Manitoba Hydro is now due July 31, 2014.

View Manitoba Government Tomorrow Now page
View Manitoba Peatlands Stewardship Strategy
View The Peatlands Stewardship Strategy report
View Regional Cumulative Effects Assessment – Hydro system – Public Registry
View Lake Winnipeg Regulation review CEC hearings. Terms of Reference and Manitoba Hydro filing
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Governments page

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Manitoba Environment Act Subject of Two Reviews 25 July 14

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship recently announced its review of the province’s environment act, with email notices and posting on its pubic registry. A September 30, 2014 deadline has been set for public comments and recommendations about changes to the Act. No press release announced this review to the public. The Director of Licensing under the Environment Act is directing the government’s review of the Act.

Hundreds of installations, plants, mills, and factories in Manitoba were provided ‘grandfathered’ status under the Act, where they do not have an environment licence. Today’s standards in environmental assessment, public access to information, and responsibilities of the proponent for a development are dramatically different.

The Manitoba Law Commission has been involved in its review of Manitoba’s Environment Act since late 2013. Starting with a discussion paper and public event in January 2014, the Commission has conducted interviews with organizations and communities who are knowledgeable about the Act, and reviews, proceedings, hearings, and appeals under the Act. Written submissions can be provided to their offices. Their review and decisions on recommendations for the Act will continue through fall 2014 when they will be provided to the government of Manitoba.

To submit comments to Manitoba Conservation use this email address: publicregistry@gov.mb.ca.

View Manitoba Law Reform Commission projects
View Manitoba Government discussion paper
View Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship news
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Governments page

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Bipole III Appeal to Cabinet Dismissed 25 July 14

Manitoba Justice initiated an appeal to cabinet of the Bipole III Transmission Project licence. The Manitoba Wildlands appeal to cabinet of the BiPole III licence has been decided. The letter indicating the Manitoba Wildlands appeal was dismissed is signed by the Clerk to Cabinet Milton Sussman.

There is no information about what happened to all the other appeals of the Bipole III licence. There is no clarity and no public information on the various appeals on the Bipole III licence filed by the deadline and not involved in the appeal to cabinet.

Appeals of Environmental licenses in Manitoba are no longer filed in the public registry. That means there is no public record of the initial appeals or the appeals to cabinet of the Bipole II licence.

The Environment Act requires the minister to explain the reasons for rejection of an appeal of an environment act licence. When cabinet deals with appeals on the licence there is no explanation. A skeptic or cynic would wonder if this process was to erase the initial appeals of the Bipole III licence.

View September 11, 2013 CBC News article
View Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Hydro Projects page
View January 17, 2014 Manitoba Wildlands Appeal to Cabinet - Bipole III Transmission Line Development Project
View September 13, 2013 Manitoba Wildlands Appeal Letter – BiPole III

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Lake St. Martin Channel: A Manitoba Emergency 25 July 14

It has no environmental licence and no permit to operate. The Lake St. Martin Emergency Outlet Channel was dug as an attempt to lessen the impact of the floodwaters from the Assiniboine River in the spring of 2011. Not one affected community was consulted before or after its construction. The community of Lake St. Martin First Nation, after which the emergency outlet is named, was flooded in the spring of 2011, and still its evacuees have not been able to return home.

While the provincial and federal government squabble over details of costs for flood evacuees, planning to remedy the situation seems to have been a shrug of the shoulders and a meek ‘carry on’ by the Manitoba government.

With the flooding experienced this spring, a full three years later, the many evacuated residents of Lake St. Martin and other affected First Nations are still unable to return home.

The 2014 crest water level in Lake Manitoba from the Assiniboine – Portage Diversion, will not be known until August. Assiniboine River floodwater travels from the Portage Diversion to Lake Manitoba, to Lake St. Martin to the Channel, to Lake Winnipeg.

The Manitoba government recently indicated it needs about seven years to build permanent outlets to deal with the continued flooding in western Manitoba. The Manitoba provincial government says that amount of time includes design and engineering, public and First Nations consultations, regulatory approvals for environmental licence, land assembly and construction. The estimated cost is $300 million.

Will meaningful First Nation consultations be a part of the next step?

View July 23, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View July 8, 2014 CBC News article
View June 25, 2014 Manitoba Government news release
View October 2013 Manitoba Government report
View May 6, 2013 The First Perspective article
View December 2, 2012 The Globe and Mail article

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Wilderness Committee Exposes Polluted Bog 25 July 14

As the world focuses on the importance of bogs and wetlands for International Bog Day on Sunday, July 27, the Wilderness Committee is drawing attention to a wetland in Manitoba's vast system of bogs: a northern provincial park wetland that was left polluted with heavy metals from mining.

Toxicity tests conducted on water from the site of a decommissioned mine in Grass River Provincial Park have revealed serious and ongoing water quality issues, including extremely high concentrations of several toxic substances that pose a threat to aquatic life.

Water samples were collected by the Wilderness Committee from a bog at the former Spruce Point Mine site, and were assessed by an independent lab in Winnipeg. The mine, operated by HudBay Minerals until it was closed in 1993, has since been heralded by the company and by the Manitoba government as a success story when it comes to mine remediation.

After reviewing the water sample test results, MiningWatch Canada confirmed that the water was "extremely toxic and well above established guidelines for the protection of aquatic life for eleven different parameters." The copper and nickel concentrations were also found to exceed Canada's very permissive federal metal mining effluent regulations, while the concentrations of cadmium, cobalt and copper were high enough to be considered acutely lethal to fish.

View July 23, 2014 Wilderness Committee press release
View June 16, 2014 Winnipeg Sun article
View Manitoba Government document showing "rehabilitation" of Spruce Point Mine site
View Review of water sample testing results (MiningWatch Canada)
View Water Caucus Wetlands in Manitoba page
View Wilderness Committee We Need Your Help To Defend Manitoba's Parks campaign

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Keeyask Dam Gets Green Light - Manitoba Hydro Told No More 7 July 14

The Manitoba Government announced it is granting the Keeyask generating station an environmental licence despite opposition.. However, it put plans for construction of the Conawapa dam on hold on the advice of the Public Utilities Board (PUB) until "more export sales are confirmed."

In a report released Wednesday, the PUB said Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro had not made a strong enough business case for building the Conawapa dam. "The risks associated with the Conawapa project are unacceptable," the provincial regulator's report states. "It is too speculative in light of rapidly changing conditions in North American electricity markets."

"Cancelling the Keeyask project now would result in material consequences for ratepayers, because Manitoba Hydro would have to recover the $1.4 billion spent on the project to date," the PUB said. "The arrangements with First Nations would have to be terminated and significant economic opportunities lost. Manitoba Hydro's commercial reputation may suffer."

The PUB said no more money should be spent on any future generation or transmission projects -- including the proposed Conawapa mega-dam -- until the province comes up with a new plan for a clean-energy future that includes wind and solar.

The environmental license for Keeyask Generating Station with Extra conditions & requirements is on the Environment Act public registry. To date the 165 license conditions are not publiv.

View July 3, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View July 2, 2014 Global News article
View July 2, 2014 CTV News article
View July 2, 2014 CBC News article
View July 2, 2014 Manitoba Government news release
View July 2, 2014 Keeyask Generating Station License

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