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25 July 2014



News

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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Glen Murray Now Ontario Environment & Climate Change Minister 7 July 14

On June 24th, 2014, Glen Murray was recognised as the new Minister for the Environment and Climate Change in Ontario's cabinet. This unprecedented recognition of climate change as a central challenge, reflected by Ontario elevating climate to a dedicated cabinet position, should mean Ontario will put a price on the pollution that drives global warming. Charging polluters for pollution encourages businesses to reduce their costs, become more efficient, and consume fewer fossil fuels.

Putting a price on carbon is the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions and has been recommended by groups as diverse as National Round Table on Environment and Economy and, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It would also allow for reducing the tax burden on other areas such as income, something businesses and individuals alike would welcome.

Glen Murray is former Mayor of Winnipeg. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Toronto Centre in 2010.

In August 2010, he was appointed to the provincial cabinet as Minister of Research and Innovation. Murray was re-elected in October 2011, and appointed Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. He resigned from cabinet on November 3, 2012 in order to run as a candidate in the 2013 Ontario Liberal Party leadership election. Glen Murray became Ontario Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure on February 11, 2013 for the Liberal Party of Ontario.

View July 3, 2014 Environmental Law and Litigation article
View July 2, 2014 The Star article
View June 25, 2014 Open letter to Glen Murray, Ontario's first minister of climate change
View Reports produced by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
View Bill 6, Great Lakes Protection Act, 2014

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Killing Libraries Kills Democracy: Libricide 7 July 14

The closure of some of the world's finest environmental libraries by the Harper government has destroyed irreplaceable collections of intellectual legacy. This fits a larger pattern that includes the gutting of the Fisheries Act, the muzzling of scientists, the abandonment of climate change research and the dismantling of countless research programs, including the world famous Experimental Lakes Area. All these examples indicate that the Harper government strongly regards environmental science as a threat to resource exploitation.

The Harper government has, since 2006, moved to control and prevent free flow of scientific information in Canada, particularly when that information reflects undesirable consequences from industrial development.

Many in the scientific community in Canada have compared the destruction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) research libraries across Canada and the attacks on environmental scientists to the book burnings of 1930s Nazi Germany.

Dalhousie University biologist Jeff Hutchings calls the closures "an assault on civil society."

View January 29, 2014 The Argus article
View January 13, 2014 The Star article
View January 7, 2014 Bones for War article
View January 4, 2014 Boing Boing article
View January 3, 2014 Huffington Post article
View December 27, 2013 Climate Science Watch article
View December 23, 2013 The Tyee article
View May 2013 Academic Matters article

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Public Utilities Boards Says NO to Manitoba Hydro Plan 7 July 14

Manitoba's Public Utilities Board (PUB) issued its report, and the Manitoba government has released the report that reviews Manitoba Hydro's development plan. Hearings were held over three months. This was the first time a ‘Needs for and Alternatives to' review of Manitoba Hydro projects has been conducted, with at least some of them yet to be approved.

The PUB recommendations (pg 249 of the report) start with a clear recommendation that the Manitoba government not approve Manitoba Hydro's proposed preferred Development Plan."

Acknowledging the in service date for the Keeyask Generation Station is perhaps 5 years early based on domestic energy need within Manitoba, the PUB recommends that "Manitoba Hydro proceed with the construction of the Keeyask Project to achieve a 2019 in service date."

Despite there already being 4 transmission interconnections between Manitoba and the United States customers for Manitoba Hydro, the PUB recommended that "the Manitoba government authorize Manitoba Hydro to proceed with the 750 MW US transmission interconnection project for 2020 in service date."

About the Conawapa Generation Station, the PUB recommended that the government of Manitoba not approve construction of the Conawapa Project and the North South Transmission Project. The PUB stated, ‘nor should existing sunk costs become a justification for Conawapa."

Rate-payer impacts are subject of another 3 PUB recommendations to government. In its closing the PUB report indicates it is "now time for to determine and build a more diversified (energy) resource portfolio" Solar and wind energy should be an integrated part of the future of Manitoba's energy portfolio, according to the PUB report.

View June 2014 Public Utilities Board NFAT Report
View Manitoba Wildlands Keeyask Generation Station page
View Manitoba Wildlands Bipole III transmission project page
View Manitoba Wildlands Bipole III hearings page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Hydro Projects page

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Lake Winnipeg Regulation Resolution from Manitoba Chiefs 27 June 14

Manitoba First Nation Chiefs have issued a resolution to provide the Manitoba government with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' position regarding the Clean Environment Commission hearings to review regulation of Lake Winnipeg for forty years.

To date no permanent licence or permit is in place for regulation of Lake Winnipeg, or operation of JenPeg. The same is true for other infrastructure in the Manitoba Hydro system.

No environment licence for regulation of the Lake is in place currently, or anticipated as a result of the hearings. The CEC will be guided for the hearings by the reference from Minister Mackintosh, which is posted on their website. Their recommendations will pertain to regulation of Lake Winnipeg under the Water Power Act.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs resolution shows concern for the delay since 2011, and the urgent need for a transparent and thorough review after forty years regulation of Lake Winnipeg, and expects attention to the rights of many First Nations affected by regulation of the Lake.

The Chiefs state: "the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs expect Premier Selinger and Minister Mackintosh to make sure that full public hearings, with participant funding, independent experts and access to information regarding 40 years of regulation of Lake Winnipeg to be available to all parties, be conducted for regulation of Lake Winnipeg, and regulation of Jenpeg."

The Chiefs further state:" Executive Council (cabinet), Manitoba Hydro, and the Premier and Minister Mackintosh must be reminded and advised that Aboriginal constitutional rights, inherent, treaty, and agreements with the Crowns and the utility must be upheld through the stages of review, analysis, and CEC proceedings and hearings."

To date there are no details of the CEC's process for hearings, identifying participants, or participant funding. There will be a CEC tour of communities affected by the regulation of the Lake, held prior to the Winnipeg hearings. The AMC resolution link is provided below.

View Manitoba Clean Environment Commission Lake Winnipeg Regulation -- Manitoba Hydro page
View Manitoba Government Lake Winnipeg Regulation page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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Canadian Supreme Court Recognizes First Nation Land Title 27 June 14

The Supreme Court of Canada has granted declaration of aboriginal title to more than 1,700 square kilometres of land in British Columbia to the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, the first time the court has made such a ruling regarding aboriginal land.

The unanimous 8-0 decision released Thursday resolves many important legal questions, such as how to determine aboriginal title and whether provincial laws apply to those lands. The decision, written by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, also has implications for future economic or resource development on First Nations lands.

"British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot'in through its land use planning and forestry authorizations," the 81-page decision states.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, was with Chief Roger William, who brought the case, and other Tsilhqot'in chiefs when they learned of the top court's decision, and said the mood in the room was "absolutely electrifying."

"We all heard the decision at the same moment, and the room just erupted in cheers and tears. Everybody is absolutely jubilant. It's very emotional," Phillip told CBC News.

"It only took 150 years, but we look forward to a much brighter future. This, without question, will establish a solid platform for genuine reconciliation to take place in British Columbia."

"I didn't think it would be so definitive," Phillip added. "I was actually prepared for something much less. It's not very often that I'm without words, and I'm quite overwhelmed at the moment."

The decision rejected the narrow view of what qualified for protection under aboriginal rights from a 2012 ruling by the B.C. Court of Appeal. While the lower court had said aboriginal groups must be able to prove intensive historical use of a specific site, Thursday's decision accepts a broader set of criteria particularly important for the Tsilhqot'in, a historically "semi-nomadic" people.

Indigenous groups must now prove a looser definition of occupation, continuity of habitation on the land, and exclusivity in an area in order to be granted a title.

The Supreme Court of Canada currently has other similar cases to rule on, with the June 26th decision as a precedent. Analysis is beginning as to how this decision affects both provincial and federal governments and First Nations across Canada.

View June 26, 2014 CBC News article
View June 26, 2014 Common Dreams article
View June 26, 2014 Financial Post article
View June 26, 2014 Global News article
View June 26, 2014 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network article
View June 26, 2014 Rabble.ca article
View June 25, 2014 The Star article

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Manitoba Surface Water Plan Out For Comments 27 June 14

Manitoba recently announced its first comprehensive Surface Water Management Strategy. A multi-year surface water management investments to protect Lake Winnipeg and mitigate flood and drought damage, Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced.

"Manitoba faces three water woes: excessive nutrient loading of waterways that is harming Lake Winnipeg, damage from flooding and the risk of drought," said Minister Mackintosh. "All three can be mitigated with a new, sustainable approach to managing drainage and investing in flood control infrastructure."

About 75 per cent of original wetlands in Manitoba have been drained since industrial development began on the prairies, much of that in areas such as the Red River basin, impairing the natural ability of waterways to retain, release and refresh water over time, Minister Mackintosh said, adding this strategy seeks to end further loss of the benefits that wetlands provide and includes a plan to overhaul drainage licensing that would streamline approvals for routine drainage while protecting seasonal wetlands.

Public comments are being requested until December 31, 2014, through the government web site.

View Manitoba's Surface Water Management Strategy
View June 11, 2014 The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce article
View June 11, 2014 Winnipeg Free Press article
View University of Manitoba Innovative surface water and nutrient management initiatives on farm page
View Manitoba Government Towards Sustainable Drainage page

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014