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15 April 2016


Manitoba Minnesota Transmission EIS Released 3 July 15

US State and federal agencies, on June 19, 2015, released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Great Northern Transmission Line, setting the stage for public meetings, comments and later hearings on the proposal by Minnesota Power to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line from the Canada-U.S. border to Minnesota's Iron Range.

Minnesota Power is proposing to build an approximately 220-mile long, 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line that would cross the international border in Roseau County, and would connect to the intended Manitoba transmission line project based on Manitoba Hydro's preferred route.

In Manitoba a scoping document to frame the EIS contents was released in mid 2014. The final preferred route for the transmission line, which is intended for export of Manitoba Hydro energy, was announced after three rounds of public engagement. The Manitoba EIS, to be released in late summer 2015, will need to match contents with the recent licences issued for significant transmission projects in Manitoba.

As an international project, and with the recent precedents of Clean Environment Commission hearings for the Bipole III transmission project, Manitoba's cabinet will issue a formal reference to the CEC in fall 2015. Manitoba's Environment Act requires these steps. Two other sets of transmission were included in the mandate for recent CEC hearings.

View June 26, 2015 Minnesota Power news release
View The Great Northern Tranmission Line EIS website
View MMTP Draft Environmental Impact Statement
View Manitoba Public Registry file 5750.00
View Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project
View Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project page

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Peat Mining Ban Lifted In Manitoba 3 July 15

The Government of Manitoba has ended its four year moratorium on peat mining.

"There is only one way to keep Manitoba peat from accelerating climate change: leave the peat in the ground," provincial Wilderness Committee campaign director Eric Reder said in a statement.

According to The Wilderness Committee, Manitoba's peat lands are the province's best natural defence against global warming, as the peat absorbs significant amounts of climate-changing carbon. When those lands are bulldozed, drained and harvested, the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.

“Peat land bogs take thousands of years to form and store vast quantities of carbon. Mining these peat bogs releases all of that stored carbon,” says David Nickarz, Green Party of Manitoba advocate for Conservation and Water Stewardship. “This is a step in the wrong direction.”

Globally, peatlands are the world’s most important terrestrial carbon sink, making them one of the greatest climate change mitigation tools available. Peat mining releases this vast carbon store into the air and stops the area from sequestering new carbon. Peat mining further affects local water quality, and removes a distinct ecosystem that houses many unique species.

Industry claims that, peat bogs will be restored to their natural state. Peat bogs are often reclaimed into a type of wetland or agricultural land which, while better than nothing, is of lower ecological quality than the original bog. Reclamation also cannot undo the loss of the carbon stored in the original bog. Despite new legislation and Peat Strategy, the required public registry is not in place.

View June 30, 2015 The Green Party of Manitoba article
View March 25, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View February 25, 2013 Manitoba Government news release
View Manitoba Wildlands Peat Mining in Manitoba page

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Clean Drinking Water In Canadian Cities? 3 July 15

The topic of unsafe drinking water is usually associated to the developing world. In Canada, regular recurrences of boil-water advisories, and widely publicized outbreaks in towns like Walkerton and Kashechewan have shown, even in Canada, clean water cannot be taken for granted. Increased scrutiny caused by such issues has resulted in widespread criticism of the uneven drinking water regulation among Canada’s provinces and territories.

In Canada, it is left to each province to decide how many tests each of its municipalities should do - a system Health Canada said makes sense based on which contaminants are relevant in any particular region.

"They should be testing for everything, maybe not all the time, but at least on a periodic basis, rather than never testing for them at all," said Eva Pip, a University of Winnipeg professor specializing in water quality and toxicology.

CBC asked 18 cities in every province and territory to provide a list of the health-related contaminants they test in their water supplies. Only one — Ottawa — tests for all 75 substances found in Health Canada's published guidelines for Canadian drinking water.

Some cities, like Calgary, Edmonton and Halifax, test for all but one of the substances in the guidelines. Quebec City tests for 62, Regina 52, Winnipeg 49, St.John's 26 and Iqaluit just tests for 20.

View June 19, 2015 CBC News article
View June 19, 2015 Water Technology article
View March 13, 2015 CTV News article
View September 10, 2012 The Globe and Mail article

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Manitoba Hydro Selects US Transmission Route 30 May 15

Manitoba Hydro has released its preferred route for the new 500 kv alternating current transmission system approved by Manitoba's Public Utilities Board (PUB) after its 2014 review of the utility's development plan. The PUB approval is not part of the public reviews or regulatory licensing process.

The Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) would start at Dorsey Station west of Winnipeg, move along lines through the south side of Winnipeg, connect at the Louis Riel Station east of Winnipeg, and travel south east of the Red River and Highway 59 to Minnesota. The MMTP connects to a similar transmission project in Minnesota.

The region of Manitoba this new transmission line would cross includes several towns, primary and secondary highways, farmland, public lands, and private lands. The selected route will use some existing rights of way, but also crosses a lot of private land.

Several First Nations are affected by the transmission project, due to constitutional and treaty rights, for both current and historical land uses in the region. Treaty land entitlement options are also relevant in the region. Aboriginal consultations with affected communities are also required, and could start as soon as fall 2015.

View Public Registry File for Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project
View May 5, 2015 Letter directing Manitoba Hydro to make updates to the MMTP Scoping Document
View Manitoba Hydro MMTP website
View Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project page

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Ocean Cleaning System To Launch 2016 29 May 15

Earth’s oceans are overloaded with plastic bags and other kinds of synthetic debris, which can be deadly for aquatic animals and detrimental to the marine environment. According to a 2014 study there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 269,000 tons dispersed in oceans! This pollution is estimated to harm 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals and 1,000,000 ocean animals each year.

In 2013, Boyan Slat,founder and CEO of Dutch-registered nonprofit organization The Ocean Cleanup, developed a trash collector which was promised to clean up the world’s oceans. Slat recently announced that this ambitious project is going to be deployed in 2016.

The system will span 2000 meters, becoming the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean (beating the current record of 1000 m held by the Tokyo Mega-Float). It will be operational for at least two years, catching plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the deployment location of Tsushima island. Tsushima island is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source.

“Taking care of the ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it is also an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.

View May 29, 2015 Al Jazeera America article
View May 20, 2015 The Ocean Cleanup article
View May 29, 2015 The Mind Unleashed article
Watch June 6, 2014 The Ocean Cleanup video
View December 13, 2014 National Geographic article
View September 11, 2013 The Mind Unleashed article

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Manitoba Not Ready For Climate Change 29 May 15

A water security expert says climate change will have dire consequences on Manitoba's infrastructure and consequently its economy, unless something changes. Bob Sandford, EPCOR Water Security Research Chair at United Nations University, began working to help solve water-related climate issues in Manitoba a decade ago. His first focus was on Lake Winnipeg — now his focus is the province's infrastructure.

"You see that there are larger changes to the hydrologic cycle that are causing more frequent flooding, greater storms and causing greater infrastructure damage. We are of the view that this could have serious economic consequences for the province, so our meeting today is about how we deal with those matters,"

Sandford spoke to the Threatened Infrastructure conference Thursday, May 7th, in Winnipeg, hosted by the Manitoba Capital Region.

The 2011 flooding in Manitoba, which damaged homes and displaced hundreds, cost more than $1 Billion to fight, and that does not include massive post-flood damages that are still being tallied. Manitoba needs a plan to mitigate climate change impacts.

View May 7, 2015 CBC News article
View May 17, 2015 CBC News article
View David Suzuki Foundation Economic impacts page
View 2011 NRTEE report

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John Kerry Now Arctic Council Chair 29 May 15

At a reception to celebrate U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the urgent need to curb Arctic and global climate change.

Kerry stressed the consequences of unchecked climate change for people in the Arctic and around the planet. In his address to Arctic nation ministers, members of Congress, and other policymakers, Kerry said that the Arctic “is not just a picturesque landscape. It’s a home. It’s a lifestyle. It has a history.”

Arctic communities, he said, are “4 million strong living there for centuries, and believe me, they are an essential part of everything that is critical to the region.”

Ministers from eight Arctic states and leaders of Arctic Indigenous Peoples met in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, marking conclusion of Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship and the beginning of United States’ Chairmanship. Ministers signed the Iqaluit Declaration 2015, which highlights the accomplishments of the Arctic Council during Canada’s Chairmanship (2013-2015) and guides the work of the Council under the Chairmanship of the United States(2015-2017).

As Arctic Council Chairman, Kerry has a rare opportunity to build momentum for a strong outcome in Paris climate negotiations. Kerry has already started to take advantage of this opportuniy, by making climate change a central focus of his Arctic Council chairmanship. He plans to expand access to renewable energy technologies in the Arctic, and press for full implementation of the Framework for Enhanced Action to Reduce Black Carbon and Methane Emissions, adopted at the April 2015 Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Inqaluit, Canada.

View May 26, 2015 Think Progress article
View April 24, 2015 Arctic Council news release
View April 24, 2015 Iqaluit Declaration 2015
View December 18, 2014 NPR article
View August 22, 2014 Climate Progress article

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Fossil Fuel Subsidies Fuel Climate Change 22 May 15

Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. This $5.3 trillion is also contributing to millions of deaths, heart attacks, asthma cases, and other health effects of local air pollution in the United States and countries around the world.

Nicholas Stern, an eminent climate economist at the London School of Economics, said: “This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”

“These [fossil fuel subsidy] estimates are shocking,” said Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s head of fiscal affairs and former finance minister of Portugal. “Energy prices remain woefully below levels that reflect their true costs.”

View May 21, 2015 The Guardian article
View May 21, 2015 The Nation article
View May 19, 2015 The Common Sense Canadian article
View May 19, 2015 CBC News article
View May 18, 2015 International Monetary Fund report
View May 18, 2015 Financial Times article

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Solar Industry Growing Fast - IRENA Report 22 May 15

Canada has built a global reputation as an energy superpower, based on abundant traditional energy resources, an export oriented industrial sector and first-class research facilities. While it’s easy to take these strengths for granted, a whole new set of factors is driving the global energy industry in different directions.

Rising demand for energy, together with the cost of replacing the country’s aging generation facilities, gives Canada the opportunity to push forward with renewable energy to help create a stronger, more diversified and modern energy system.

The sun’s ability to generate energy when it’s needed most (and when it is most expensive) – during the day – is what makes solar energy unique and attractive. Solar energy reduces reliance on expensive conventional sources of energy to meet peak demand, but also the need to maintain and carry costs of backup power like natural gas “peaking” plants. Additional cost savings are realized because solar energy is consumed where it is produced – individual buildings can generate heat or electricity from a rooftop or wall-mounted application.

Canadian solar resource is world-class. Much of Canada has superior solar resources to Germany, the global leader in solar technology, an indication of the phenomenal potential of the solar industry in Canada.

View Solar Energy Industries Association research
View 2015 International Renewable Energy Agency report
View March 10, 2015 Scientific American article
View July 26, 2014 The Globe and Sun article
View April 24, 2014 CleanTechnica article

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Harper Government Announces More Emission Goals 22 May 15

May 15, 2015, Canada’s Harper government announced it will cut carbon pollution by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This proposed target would be achieved five years later than the United States, relies on questionable carbon accounting practices in the forestry and land use sectors, includes international offsets to compensate for growing oil sands emissions rather than regulating the country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and would emphasize regulations of methane and nitrous oxide rather than the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

The 2030 emissions target was submitted to the United Nations as part of preparations for a UN Climate summit to be held in Paris in December where nations aim to conclude a new binding global climate agreement to avert the worst impact of global warming.

“A target consistent with the scientific consensus would see Canada commit to cutting carbon pollution nationally by at least one third by 2025 (35% below 2005) combined with $4 billion annually in international climate finance by 2020 that would aim to generate global reductions equivalent to Canada’s remaining greenhouse gas emissions, ” says Steven Guilbault, Equiterre.

‘Over the last few years our federal government has made various climate change commitments – while Canada’s emissions keep increasing. Action is overdue,’ commented Gaile Whelan-Enns, Manitoba Wildlands Director and Climate Action Network Board member.

View May 15, 2015 Pembina Institute article
View May 15, 2015 Climate Action Network Canada article
View May 15, 2015 CBC News article
View May 15, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View April 12, 2015 Toronto Star article
View April 11, 2015 Global News article

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Solar's New Promise from Canada 8 May 15

At age nine, Eden Full had already built herself a solar powered car. Now 23 years old, she is an accomplished inventor who has dramatically increased the effectiveness of solar panels, landing her on Forbes' 30 Under 30: Energy list three years in a row.

As Full got into engineering as a teen, she noticed the influence of the oil and gas industry. A high-school trip to the Arctic – a "visceral, physical" experience where she saw climate change harming polar bears first-hand – sealed her commitment.

The result is the SunSaluter, a low-cost device that makes solar panels track the movement of the sun using water bottles and gravity. The SunSaluter increases energy output by 40 per cent while producing clean water. The device uses water-filled bottles that drip through a filter, becoming lighter, and causes the solar panel to adjust its angle, tracking the sun during the course of a day.

The SunSaluter aims to increase energy and clean drinking water accessibility to off-grid communities, and thus mitigate environmental and health implications from traditional energy and water sources.

The SunSaluter has won the Westly Prize, the Mashable-UN Foundation Startups for Social Good Challenge, second prize at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, and the grand prize at the Staples-Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Visit Sunsaluter website
View May 7, 2015 The Huffington Post article
View May 7, 2015 CBS News article
View 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report

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NDP Sweeps Alberta Election 8 May 15

Decades of petroleum politics went up in flames when NDP Leader Rachel Notley carried her party into power in Alberta with an New Democratic Party majority government.

Under an NDP government, resource extraction will be based on scientific research rather than “the outcome of a lobbyist meeting on a golf course somewhere,” Notley told reporters during the campaign.

This NDP election victory in Alberta is a shake-up with ramifications across the country, Notley is committed to tougher provincial action against climate change and a new approach to pipeline mega-projects.

“For the first time, we’re thinking seriously about how Alberta can be part of the climate solution,” said Keith Stewart, head energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. It’s one of many groups that opposed new pipelines from Alberta on the grounds that expanded oil sands production will add to the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

“With this election, Albertans have voted for change — and that change includes improving Alberta’s environmental record and its approach to climate change.” Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, stated in response to the outcome of the Alberta election.

View May 6, 2015 CBC News article
View May 5, 2015 Pembina Institute media release
View RAchel Notley's 2015 Election Platform
View May 5, 2015 Toronto Star article
View May 5, 2015 The Globe and Mail article

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014