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Brag Box
31 July 2015


Lake Winnipeg Aboriginal Consultations Promised 31 July 15

On June 3, 2015 Premier Greg Selinger told the Manitoba Legislature, during a question period in Estimates for Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, that Section 35 Aboriginal Consultations with communities affected by Lake Winnipeg Regulation would go forward.

Despite the Clean Environment Commission hearings about Lake Winnipeg Regulation ending in April 2015 with their report due August 2015, Section 35 consultations had not started yet. The government sent a package to about 40 communities deemed to be affected by regulation of Lake Winnipeg water levels in early 2014.

Premier Selinger made the commitment for Aboriginal Consultations in Manitoba when he held a two day event with Manitoba First Nations and his ministers, in Brokenhead June 2010. At the time a five year fund was established. Projects such as Bipole III, Keeyask Generation Station, and various mining dispositions, road building, and other projects have been subject to community consultation.

The standards Manitoba is applying to these community consultations are from 2009. No First Nation or Metis review was involved before the standards were put in place.

The same day an Assistant Deputy Minister in Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship was attending a Lake Winnipeg gathering in Brokenhead. To see the questions and his answers about Lake Winnipeg consultations see link below.

View June 3, 2015 Manitoba Wildlands Comments from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation meeting
View Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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VanCity Mutual Divests 31 July 15

Vancity has developed what it calls Canada's first mutual fund that won't invest in companies associated with fossil fuel production.

"Our members have been asking for something like this for a while now," Vancity chief operating officer Rick Sielski said in an interview. "It's a convergence around what makes sense from a risk return investment for our members while satisfying their need to really put their money where their heart and values are."

Vancity is dumping Enbridge holdings because they fall beneath its standard of a socially responsible investment, announced the credit union. According to Vancity, the mutual funds are supposed to prioritize investment in Canadian companies that are profitable, have a record of sustainable practices and are socially responsible.

Vancity made its decision to divest based on a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board on Enbridge's 2010 oil spill. At least 843,000 gallons of crude spilled into Michigan's Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.

View May 1, 2015 The Vancouver Sun article
View August 24, 2012 The Vancouver Sun article
View June 5, 2015 SolarShare article
View August 22, 2012 Huffington Post article

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Manitoba Diesel Communities Need Help 31 July 15

The governments of Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Ontario are establishing a Pan-Canadian Task Force to reduce the use of diesel fuel to generate electricity in remote communities.

This agreement comes on the heels of the Council of the Federation’s announcement of the Canadian Energy Strategy, which identified energy in off-grid communities as a priority.

In Canada, there are nearly 300 off-grid communities with a total population of approximately 200,000 people. These communities include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal settlements, villages or cities as well as long-term commercial outposts and camps for mining, fishing and forestry activities. Of these sites, approximately 175 are indigenous communities (First Nations, Innu, Inuit or Métis) with approximately 130,000 residents.

The Pan-Canadian Task Force will be chaired by Manitoba, and consist of officials from each of the provincial and territorial ministries and agencies that have policy responsibility for electricity supply in remote off-grid communities and remote off-grid aboriginal communities.

This initiative is long overdue. Forty years in fact. Communities like Shamattawa First Nation have hydro dams and converter stations in their back yard but no roads and no electricity. Forty years and no action has been taken by Manitoba Hydro or the Manitoba government.

View July 21, 2015 Ontario Government news release
View July 21, 2015 Electrical Business article
View July 22, 2015 Global News article
View August 2011 Government of Canada report

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Canada Needs Clean Energy Tech Action 31 July 15

The market for clean technology (clean tech) is already big, and it's about to get a whole lot bigger. In 2014 alone, global clean energy investments rose by 17 per cent to $380 billion. According to Analytica Advisors, the global clean tech industry reached nearly $1 trillion, with exports of Canadian clean tech industries reaching $5.8 billion or 50 per cent of the industry's revenue.

The world is undergoing an energy transformation. It is the start of a necessary shift away from the fossil fuels we depend upon today for mobility, heat, and other services, and towards clean, safe, renewable, and locally available sources that will meet the majority of our energy needs indefinitely.

This clean energy transition won't happen overnight, but it is also closer than many of us believe. In the coming few decades it will unleash profound changes in how citizens live, work, and move. Compared to many European countries and communities, we do not see a great deal of evidence of the energy transition in Canada.

"If the global economy were a baseball game, a home run would be heading straight for the clean-energy industry—but Canada hasn't even left the dugout. We've lost out on nearly $9 billion in clean-energy export opportunities in 2013 alone. We need a plan to transition our economy and reap the benefits of the growth and jobs that come with it." Sarah Petrevan, Senior Policy Advisor, Clean Energy Canada

View July 29, 2015 NRDC Switchboard blog post
View July 29, 2015 Pembina Institute article
View July 29, 2015 Pembina Institute article
View Mar 27, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View July 19, 2013 Clean Energy Canada article

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Oil Moratorium Extended On Georges Bank 24 July 15

A moratorium on oil and gas development on a large piece of Canada’s continental shelf between Southwest Nova Scotia and Cape Cod called Georges Bank will be extended for seven years, protecting the ecologically diverse waters beloved by fishermen and environmental groups in the region.

Georges Bank is perhaps best known for its abundance of haddock, halibut and scallops. The vast, shallow stretch of the sea floor is also home to rare and endangered species of whales and turtles that migrate through its nutrient-rich waters about 100 kilometres offshore.

A preliminary review is researching potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of offshore petroleum activities on Georges Bank, if permitted. Another study is assessing technologies and practices in offshore exploration, drilling and production that have been developed since the 1999 Georges Bank review.

View July 20, 2015 DeSmog Canada article
View February 11, 2015 CBC News article
View April 22, 2014 CBC News article
View May 20, 2010 The Globe and Mail article
View May 13, 2010 Nova Scotia Government article
View Nova Scotia Today's NoRigs3 Coalition page

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Mayors Meet Pope Seek Bold Climate Agreement 24 July 15

Mayors from around the world gathered at the Vatican and pledged to combat global warming and help the poor deal with its effects. Their conference was organized by the Vatican barely a month after Pope Francis' sweeping encyclical on the environment, including climate.

The two day conference was the first time it specifically invited local officials, hoping to mobilize grass-roots action and maintain pressure on world leaders for action ahead of a global summit meeting on climate change scheduled for December in Paris.

Pope Francis told the gathering that he had "a lot of hope" that the Paris negotiations would succeed, but also warned the mayors: "You are the conscience of humanity."

Pope Francis' other main priority has been to raise awareness about human trafficking. The Vatican conference is aimed at showing how both are related: The exploitation of the Earth and its most vulnerable people, with global warming often responsible for creating "environmental refugees" forced to flee homes because of drought or other climate-induced natural disasters.

View July 21, 2015 CBC News article
View July 21, 2015 The Huffington Post article
View July 21, 2015 CBC News article
View July 21, 2015 The New York Times article
View July 21, 2015 National Observer article

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U.N. Says Roundup Probable Carcinogen 24 July 15

The U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO) identified, glyphosphate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's popular weed killer Roundup as "probably carcinogenic to humans," France has taken a step to limit sales of the herbicide.

Roundup and generic versions of glyphosate are still the most widely used herbicides in the world. As of 2012, it was the top choice of New York City for killing weeds in its parks. Farmers like Roundup because "Roundup Ready" versions of crops like corn and soybeans have been modified to specifically tolerate the herbicide, allowing growers to spray Roundup widely across their fields without damaging their crops.

The United States and other international regulatory bodies have backed the safety of glyphosate when used as directed, but the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report cited studies that raised concerns about glyphosate and impacts on health.

"There are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate ... can promote cancer and tumor growth," said Dave Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. "It should be banned."

View June 15, 2015 Newsweek article
View May 2015 The Lancet article
View March 24, 2015 Mother Jones article
View March 24, 2015 Reuters article

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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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