87% of B.C. Grizzly Deaths Due to Trophy Hunting

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‘Nothing Has Changed’: B.C.’s Botched Oil Spill Response Haunts First Nation

On October 13, just after 1 a.m, and only eight months after British Columbia signed the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements — set in place to protect the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest — the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat ran aground near Bella Bella.

Even though the 10,000-tonne fuel barge the tugboat was pushing was empty, the wreck managed to release more than 100,000 litres of diesel into the heart of the Heiltsuk First Nation’s traditional territory.

Now, six months after the American tug-barge on route from Alaska ran aground, the Heiltsuk First Nation has released a 75-page report on the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill that exposes the failures of Canada’s oil spill response system and a refusal from both the government and the company to share information with those affected by the spill. Read more.

87% of B.C. Grizzly Deaths Due to Trophy Hunting, Records Reveal

Eighty-seven per cent of grizzly bear deaths in B.C. are attributable to trophy hunters, who have killed 12,026 grizzly bears since the government began keeping records in 1975, according to data obtained by David Suzuki Foundation.

In 2016, 274 grizzlies were killed — the vast majority of which (235) were killed by trophy hunters. B.C. currently sanctions a legal trophy hunt by both resident and foreign hunters. Non-resident hunters killed almost 30 per cent of the grizzlies in the 2016 hunt.

The trophy hunt has become a hot election issue with the NDP and Green Party vowing to end the hunt if elected. An Insights West survey conducted in the fall of 2016 found 91 percent of British Columbians are opposed to trophy hunting. Meantime, the B.C. Liberals are the party of choice for international trophy hunters — who donated $60,000 to the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. to help prevent an NDP win. Read more.

Three Ways to Improve Alberta’s Toothless Energy Regulator

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is Alberta’s one-stop regulatory body for the oil and gas industry. When it was created in 2013 by the merging of the former Energy Resources Conservation Board and parts of Alberta Environment and Parks, the AER made bold claims about transparency, enforcement and becoming a “world-class” regulator.

Unfortunately, the AER has failed to live up to its promises. The AER has shown over and over again that it is either unable or unwilling to enforce its own laws, directives and orders. The AER has become a toothless regulator. As a public interest lawyer I see first-hand how the AER’s failures affect Albertans. Read more.

B.C. Government Scientists Say Staff Cutbacks, Outsourcing and Political Interference Threaten Public Health and Safety

Contracting out scientific work to non-government professionals, while cutting back on ministry scientists and experts, is threatening the B.C. government’s ability to make decisions based on sound science, says a highly-critical report released by the Ottawa-based group Evidence for Democracy.

The report, based on a survey distributed to 1,159 B.C. government scientists in 10 ministries, found that almost half of the 403 who responded to 64 questions believe that political interference is compromising their ministry’s ability to develop laws, policies and programs based on scientific evidence and that decisions are often not consistent with the best available scientific information. Read more.

Canada Has the Longest Coastline in the World. Guess How Much of it is Protected?

The federal government recently created two marine protected areas in the Pacific region and has committed to increase ocean protection from one per cent to 10 by 2020. But will this be enough?

Canada has the longest coastline of any nation, but our country doesn’t end at its ocean shores. With a 200-nautical-mile economic zone and international obligations, Canada is responsible for almost three million square kilometres of ocean, an area roughly the size of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.

Although that’s a big area, thinking of the ocean in square kilometres is just skimming the surface. The ocean isn’t just a cold, wet seascape blanketed by howling winds. Below the surface, life thrives throughout the water column, top to bottom, warm or cold, winter or summer. Read more.

What You Need to Know About Fracking In Canada

Back in 2007, when Alberta landowner Jessica Ernst filed her lawsuit over water contamination from the hydraulic fracturing of shallow coal seams near her property, most Canadians had never even heard of “fracking.” Ten years later, nearly everyone has at least heard of the controversial process of accessing oil and gas deposits.

To some, it’s an economic saviour. To others, it’s a threat to fresh water and yet another step toward climate change catastrophe. But many others don’t know what to think, especially when some provinces embrace fracking while others put a freeze on the practice. To help you sort it out, we’ve put together this primer on what fracking really is, where it’s happening in Canada and what’s known (and not known) about the risks to the environment and human health. Read more.

B.C. Rejects Request for Inquiry into Mining Practices

Widespread criticism of B.C.’s mining rules is undeserved according to Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, who has turned down a recommendation from the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre for a judicial inquiry into mining regulation.

“Given the significant changes this government has made to how mining is undertaken and overseen in British Columbia... Government categorically disagrees that a Commission of Public Enquiry (sic) into the Province’s mining industry serves the taxpayers of B.C.,” Bennett wrote in a letter to the ELC.

The response has exasperated Calvin Sandborn, ELC legal director, who said the rejection is likely to cost B.C. taxpayers dearly because of immense costs of mine reclamation where environmental damage has been caused by poor government oversight and minimal enforcement of the polluter-pay principle.r0

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