November 30, 2013

My Heart Goes Out to DFO Staff

As more and more bad news about Canada's politically hamstrung Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and new implementation of the recently gutted Fisheries Act and its new regs comes my way, I just want to say that I really feel for the fine, upstanding, hardworking DFO staff that I know and work with as a volunteer, on the ground, and in the community. I wish them well as they struggle to protect the fish, wildlife and habitat that I know they love, under the present uncaring political regime.

I guess that sentiment may put me on Harper's "terrorist environmentalist" list. So be it. I've probably been on it for years already anyway, just for volunteering as a streamkeeper, and caring about biodiversity in my community.

Posted by Paul at 10:38 PM

November 21, 2013

MP 'Stunned' as Canadian Govt Ignores Own Research, Yet Again

I normally don't post letters written by MPs of any party on my blog, but this one by Nathan Cullen hit too close to home. As a longtime volunteer streamkeeper, I certainly understand his frustration. I've highlighted one paragraph in particular to start off this post:

"It is particularly stunning given that the report, submitted to the panel last week, was authored by a federal government agency, and yet the federal government is now saying it refuses to take into account its own information when ruling on this project. It begs the question of why we even have a federal government agency devoted to ensuring the health and viability of our fisheries and our waters when the research and recommendations they produce are ignored by the very same federal government."

[note that Joe Oliver is the Minister of Natural Resources and Gail Shea is the acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]

Open letter to Joe Oliver and Gail Shea regarding humpback whale protection

21 November 2013


Dear Ministers,

This is an open letter regarding the 21 October 2013 report, entitled Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Canada, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a recovery strategy for humpback whales in Canada. As you are likely aware, it is part of the DFO’s mandate to help this species recover from a century of whaling that nearly drove the species into extinction. The report identified four areas of “critical habitat” for humpbacks, one of which is at the mouth of the Douglas Channel, the gateway from Kitimat to the Pacific Ocean. The report also identified vessel traffic and toxic spills as two of the greatest threats to the recovery of this species.

Thus, it was with shock and dismay I recently learned of the decision by the federal joint review panel for the Northern Gateway project to ignore the report as evidence in its ruling, as though vessel traffic and the potential for toxic spills were not two of the primary environmental concerns surrounding this proposal.

It is particularly stunning given that the report, submitted to the panel last week, was authored by a federal government agency, and yet the federal government is now saying it refuses to take into account its own information when ruling on this project. It begs the question of why we even have a federal government agency devoted to ensuring the health and viability of our fisheries and our waters when the research and recommendations they produce are ignored by the very same federal government.

The purpose of the joint review panel hearings is to weigh the available scientific evidence in determining whether this project will negatively impact habitat and endangered species. The purpose of the work of the DFO is to ensure that information is considered when the government is weighing projects which will impact habitat and endangered species. The decision by the JRP to ignore the DFO report is not only wasteful indifference; it’s a double-play failure and abrogation of the duty of both of your departments to protect endangered species and our natural environment.

I wish I could feign some measure of surprise on this matter. But like many Canadians, I have come to see this kind of negligence as not only a passing tendency of the Conservative government but as a very intentional aspect of the government’s resource and environmental policy.

When the government of Canada ignores its own science on endangered species protection, it’s no wonder why Canada has lost all credibility on environmental stewardship among both its own citizens and the international community.


Nathan Cullen
MP Skeena—Bulkley Valley

Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

City of Burnaby Presentation on Proposed Pipeline Expansion

The City of Burnaby's Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee was briefed by City planning staff a week or two ago on the ramifications of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline proposal.

Mayor and Council have directed that the presentation be delivered to all City committees, and I saw an updated version last night before an Environment Committee meeting.

Mayor and Council basically oppose the proposed KM TMP expansion, for several reasons. I'll try to recall some of the highlights of the presentation:

1) From an original plan to approximately double TMP capacity, the latest proposal is to triple it.

2) The terminus in Burnaby would triple Aframax tanker berths from 1 to 3.

3) The original proposal called for nearly all, if not all, new capacity to be built on the original right of way (ROW). The latest proposal calls for significant sections to be built in new ROWs, and it appears that parts of all of the proposed routes within Burnaby would run through residential and park/conservation areas.

4) The tank farm in Burnaby would expand dramatically in capacity. If I recall correctly, the capacity would be the highest of any tank farm along the entire route from, and including, Edmonton.

5) The added pipeline now appears to be designated nearly all for heavy crude, whereas previously a mix of products was proposed.

6) Nearly all, if not all, of the additional capacity is designated for export, and there are not even guarantees that the present Chevron refinery in Burnaby would get product (my understanding is that it has resorted to getting some product by rail shipment to keep itself at an efficient level of operation).

7) When you add up all the various levels of spills insurance provided by various organizations, they total $1.3 billion, and just one even partial Aframax tanker spill could be well over that amount. Any cleanup/compensation that exceeds $1.3 billion means that taxpayers pick up the tab.

8) The KM proposal calls for the City of Burnaby Fire Department to be first responders to any spill, fire, etc. The FD is saying they don't have the capacity, and that they are not told ahead of time what product is moving through the pipe at any particular time.

9) Burnaby already has experience with a significant KM spill (pipeline penetrated by backhoe) that was ruled as the fault of KM and a contractor, and was basically due to human error in conjunction with poor maps.

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/pipeline/2007/p07h0040/p07h0040.asp

Posted by Paul at 12:14 PM