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Obama Challenges Sounds Alarm on Climate Change 4 September 15

Speaking to representatives of numerous governments at the GLACIER Conference of Arctic nations in Anchorage, Alaska, Obama made extremely blunt statements about how bad climate change is going to get if we don’t do something about it, and criticised the slowness of governments to act thus far.

"We’re not moving fast enough. None of the nations represented here are moving fast enough," Obama said, sounding like your loving but constantly disappointed uncle in one of his rare moments of anger:

"This is within our power. This is a solvable problem if we start now. We’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally, and within each of our own body politics, that we may have the political will – finally – to get moving.

"The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the (climate) deniers is passed. The time to plead ignorance is surely passed. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island. If we were to abandon our course of action ... we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.

"Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that – any so-called leader who doesn’t take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke – is not fit to lead."

View September 2, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View September 1, 2015 Junkee article
View September 1, 2015 NBC News article
View August 31, 2015 The New York Times article
View August 26, 2015 Renew Economy article

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Energy East Risks Too Great 15 August 15

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says the environmental risks of the $12-billion Energy East pipeline project outweigh the potential benefits, and warns it will drive up natural gas prices.

"What we have found is there is an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the project and the expected benefits for Ontarians," said OEB vice-president Peter Fraser as he released a report on Energy East.

TransCanada's Energy East pipeline project would convert an up to 40-year-old natural gas pipeline to carry crude oil from Alberta to Ontario, connecting it with new pipeline through Quebec and on to Saint John, New Brunswick. It would be the largest oil pipeline in North America, transporting 1.1 million barrels of oil every day – primarily for export. After 15 months of consultations with people in communities along the Ontario route of the pipeline, the Ontario energy board found residents are worried about leaks.

"The top concern expressed was the risk of an oil spill as the pipeline runs near or across many waterways," Fraser said. "Our advice is that for the existing pipeline, when it is too close to environmentally sensitive areas, it should be rerouted unless it can be justified by TransCanada as necessary."

Greenpeace welcomed the OEB's conclusion that the risks of the pipeline project outweigh the benefits. "Given the new realities of low oil prices and a global push for action on climate change, this project is high risk and low reward for the entire country and not just Ontario," said Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart.

View August 13, 2015 The Hamilton Spectator article
View August 13, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View August 13, 2015 Star 93.3 article
View June 12, 2014 The Council of Canadians report
View August 1, 2013 CTV News article

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Obama's Clean Power Plan 15 August 15

Hundreds of businesses including eBay, Nestlé and General Mills have issued their support for Barack Obama's clean power plan, billed as the strongest action ever on climate change by a US president.

Obama's emission reduction Clean Power Plan is designed to cut emissions from power plants and is being strengthened in terms of the long-term emission reduction ambition proposed by the U.S. president in 2015. His plan in the short-term is a concession to states reliant on highly-polluting coal.

White House adviser Brian Deese said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules represented the "biggest step that any single president has made to curb the carbon pollution that is fuelling climate change". The US is the world's second biggest carbon emitter after China.

Describing the rules of Obama's Clean Power Plan, as very important, Lord Stern, the author of an influential reviews of the economics of climate change, said: "It shows the determination of the world's richest country to maintain better economic growth while also cutting greenhouse gas pollution. President Obama has recognised in particular the enormous damage caused by pollution from the burning of coal in power stations."

View August 3, 2015 Climate Progress article
View August 3, 2015 The Guardian article
View August 3, 2015 The Tree report
View August 3, 2015 The White House press release
View United States Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants page

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Time To Cap Blowout Irresponsible 15 August 15

June 2015, Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq signed off on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's assessment of Shell Canada's Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project off the coast of Nova Scotia

Shell Canada's spill containment plan, accepted by the agency, says it can have a primary capping stack in place within 12 to 21 days after a blowout off southern Nova Scotia.

Leona Aglukkaq's decision to approve an offshore drilling plan from Shell that allows up to 21 days to contain a subsea blowout, despite the U.S. requiring the same company to cap blowouts within 24 hours is both unthinkable and irresponsible.

The most recent U.S. ruling in Alaska — where Shell wants to conduct an exploratory drilling project - requires a capping stack to be on hand for a blowout within 24 hours.

WWF-Canada works to ensure offshore oil and gas activities in Canadian waters are carried out in a safe and responsible manner, and supports the U.S. decision to require a capping stack be onsite within 24 hours of a blowout.

"The Shelburne Basin is next to some of Canada's richest fishing grounds and supports endangered marine wildlife including right whales, blue whales and leatherback turtles. Allowing up to 21 days to cap a blowout off the coast of Nova Scotia could have a devastating impact on the province's marine environment, its fisheries and the people who depend on them.' Said WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller: "Canada needs to put regulations in place that ensure development does not come at the expense of the environment."

View August 7, 2015 World Wildlife Fund Canada article
View August 6, 2015 CBC News article
View August 5, 2015 CTV News article
View August 5, 2015 CBC News article
View April 17, 2015 CBC News article

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Second Lake Winnipeg Channel: No First Nation Consent 15 August 15

It's been four years since residents along Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin were flooded out. A record level flood on the Assiniboine River forced the Portage Division to divert more water into Lake Manitoba causing lake levels to rise. Lake St. Martin, Little Saskatchewan, Dauphin River and Pinaymootang First Nations were the hardest hit by the flooding along the Assiniboine River in 2011.

Manitoba First Nation leaders are angry with a $495-million plan to build flood outlets, arguing that governments still haven't dealt with damages from the 2011 flood that displaced thousands of First Nations people. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says while it's not opposed to flood diversion projects, the provincial and federal governments should help flood victims — some of whom are still out of their homes, four years later — before spending money on new projects.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak sent a letter to Premier Greg Selinger Tuesday, August 11, 2015, advising him the AMC would not support the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project and invited him to address the organization.

The response from Nepinak and the affected First Nations comes less than two weeks after the federal government announced $165 million -- and the province $330 million -- to fund the channel project.

"What you can see by packaging the federal money with the provincial money and announcing a half-a-billion-dollar investment it's a politically expedient way to try to shore up votes," Nepinak said Wednesday at a rally outside the Legislative Building. "The tragedies that have unfolded here in the Interlake, they're more than a politically expedient matter to be dealt with at the whim of politicians."

"The federal government, the provincial government are going to try and put a channel through without settling outstanding claims lawfully owed to our communities. We're not going to stand for it," Nepinak said.

The affected First Nations seek full compensation payments for 2011 damage before any more water engineering projects. Manitoba government commitments for environmental studies and aboriginal consultation remain outstanding for both channels.

View August 12, 2015 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network article
View August 12, 2015 Winnipeg Sun article
View August 12, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View August 12, 2015 CBC News article
View July 31, 2015 CBC News article
View July 31, 2015 CTV News article
View September 18, 2014 CTV News article

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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 Wildlands2002-2014