Tag Archives: Environmental

Trans Mountain ordered to delay pipeline construction in B.C. bird nesting area

Bird nests delay part of TMX pipeline construction

Workers survey around pipe to start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

VANCOUVER – Environment and Climate Change Canada has ordered a halt to construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline through a forest in Burnaby, B.C., until the end of bird nesting season.

The department said the order was issued following an enforcement officer’s visit to the site prompted by complaints that nests of the Anna’s hummingbird and other migratory birds were being damaged.

“Given that it is nesting season, migratory birds are particularly vulnerable at this time,” it said in an emailed statement.

“Cutting vegetation and trees or carrying out other disruptive activities such as bulldozing or using chainsaws and heavy machinery in the vicinity of active nests will likely result in disturbance or destruction of those nests.”

It said construction is paused until Aug. 20.

The $12.6-billion expansion project is designed to triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Edmonton and the shipping terminal in Burnaby to about 890,000 barrels per day of products, including diluted bitumen, lighter crudes and refined fuel.

Sarah Ross of the Community Nest Finding Network said the group began noticing hummingbirds in the Burnaby area in February. Anna’s hummingbirds are some of the first birds to nest and arrive as early as January, she noted.

“In the small area that we’re monitoring, I’d say there’s probably a dozen nests,” Ross said in an interview. Her group is watching a third of the area pipeline builders have been told to avoid.

“We’ve been really surprised at the density of hummingbird nests in this area. It’s a really rich habitat for them. It has all the things that they need — close to clean water and has all the blossoms of the salmonberry.”

Hummingbirds arrive to feed in Leonor Pardo’s Enchanted Garden in San Francisco de Sales, near Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Fernando Vergara.

The group reported the presence of nests in the area to Trans Mountain and federal and provincial environmental authorities, she said.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said it issued orders following two on-site inspections.

It gave a verbal order on April 12, which asked the company to “immediately refrain from disturbing, destroying or taking a nest or an egg of a migratory bird” in the 1,000-metre area along Highway 1.

Trans Mountain was also ordered to immediately stop or shut down any activity, including tree trimming and cutting that may require the use of heavy machinery including bulldozers and chainsaws that could disturb and destroy nests.

About 10 days later, the department ordered the company to put up signs in the area that say no activity is allowed during the nesting period.

Trans Mountain confirmed that the order applied to a 900-metre area along the Brunette River for the duration of the nesting period.

“While Trans Mountain endeavours to conduct tree clearing activities outside of the migratory bird nesting periods, this is not always feasible,” it said in a statement.

The company didn’t respond to questions about possible added costs or how the order might set back the timing of the pipeline’s completion.

Anna’s hummingbirds and other bird species found in the area such as song sparrows, pine siskins, robins and black-capped chickadees are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

The company said it is in talks with Environment and Climate Change Canada to determine how it can mitigate the disturbance to migratory birds during the nesting period.

“Trans Mountain’s policies and procedures for the protection of migratory birds and their habitat were developed in consultation with stakeholders and communities and have been extensively reviewed by federal and provincial regulatory authorities,” it said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021.

[SOURCE]

Imperial Oil reports deaths of birds that landed on Alberta tailings ponds

In 2019 and in 2010, Syncrude was fined millions of dollars for the death of birds landing on its tailings pond.

Fort McMurray, Alta. — Imperial Oil Ltd. is reporting the deaths of 50 birds that landed on tailings areas near its Kearl oilsands project in northern Alberta.

Imperial says more than 100 birds per day, mainly grebes and shorebirds, have landed on the ponds over several days, mostly on open water.

Jon Harding, an Imperial spokesman, says some of the oily birds have been taken to a rehabilitation centre in Edmonton where they will be cleaned and assessed.

Imperial says the birds landed despite active deterrent systems including radar detection, noise cannons, eye-safe lasers, scarecrows, and long-range noise making devices.

It says the system is maintained and operated by a well-trained, experienced and dedicated team that works throughout the annual bird migration and breeding season.

Imperial says it believes exhausted birds landed at the Kearl site in spite of the deterrents because most of the natural water bodies in the area are still frozen.

“We very much regret this situation and are making every effort to protect the birds and learn from these increased landings,” Harding said in an email Tuesday.

“Our personnel, with expert third-party support, continue to actively monitor the situation and are taking all prudent steps to safely encourage the birds to avoid and move off landing areas.”

Harding said Imperial has notified industry regulators about what happened.

In January 2019, Syncrude was fined more than $2.7 million after pleading guilty to environmental charges in the deaths of 31 great blue herons at one of its oilsands mines north of Fort McMurray in 2015.

An agreed statement of facts said that Syncrude admitted that an abandoned sump pond in which the birds were found didn’t have deterrents to keep waterfowl from landing on it, even though the pond met criteria for being high risk.

Fencing and bird deterrents were then installed and the ponds were brought under Syncrude’s plan to keep wildlife away from toxic materials at its mine.

In 2010, Syncrude was fined $3 million after more than 1,600 ducks died when they landed on a tailings pond in 2008.

Syncrude was found guilty of federal and provincial environmental charges over the duck deaths.

By; The Canadian Press, May 6, 2020

[SOURCE]

Indigenous Peoples, ‘Guardians of Nature’, Under Siege

Munduruku indigenous tribe members trek through their protected lands that illegal miners had destroyed in search of gold.

From Amazon rainforests to the Arctic Circle, indigenous peoples are under siege

From Amazon rainforests to the Arctic Circle, indigenous peoples are leveraging ancestral knowhow to protect habitats that have sustained them for hundreds and even thousands of years, according to a landmark UN assessment of biodiversity released Monday.

But these “guardians of nature” are under siege, warns the first major UN scientific report to fully consider indigenous knowledge and management practices.

Whether it is logging, agribusiness and cattle ranching in the tropics, or climate change warming the poles twice as fast as the global average, an unrelenting economic juggernaut fuelled by coal, oil and gas is ravaging the natural world, the grim report found.

A million of Earth’s estimated eight million species are at risk of extinction, and an area of tropical forest five times the size of England has been destroyed since 2014.

“Indigenous peoples and local communities are facing growing resource extraction, commodity production, along with mining, transport and energy infrastructure,” with dire impacts on livelihoods and health, the report concluded.

Experts estimate that there are some 300 million indigenous people living in mostly undisturbed natural areas, and another 600 million in “local communities” straddling the natural and built worlds.

At least a quarter of global lands are traditionally owned, managed or occupied by indigenous groups, the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found.

– Pushing the boundaries –

“Indigenous peoples have truly been guardians of Nature for the rest of society,” Eduardo Brondizio, co-chair of the UN report and a professor of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington, told AFP.

Research has shown, for example, that forests under indigenous management are more effective carbon sinks and are less prone to wildfires than many so-called “protected areas” controlled by business concessions.

“We have been guardians of our lands for millennia and have deep interaction with ecosystems where we live,” said Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, a Sherpa activist from eastern Nepal.

“Our lands are among the most biodiverse on the planet.”

But nearly three-quarters of regions worldwide under indigenous stewardship have seen a decline in most measure of biodiversity and ecosystem health, the report found.

“The pressures on them continue to be enormous,” said Brondizio.

“The global economy keeps pushing the boundaries of resource extraction” deeper into indigenous territory, he said.

“Indigenous peoples have been retreating from those economic frontiers for 500 years, but get caught every time.”

Globally, the pace of deforestation is staggering.

Last year, the tropics lost an area almost the size of England, a total of 120,000 square kilometres (46,000 square miles).

Almost a third of that area, some 36,000 km2, was pristine primary rainforest.

– Timber traffickers –

In Brazil — home to nearly half of the world’s plant and animal species — landowners fell multi-storied trees to make way for soya bean crops, rogue miners pollute rivers, and timber traffickers steal valuable species.

“It is like using the goose that lays golden eggs to make soup,” said Brondizio.

The livestock industry is a double climate threat: it destroys forests to make way for grazing land and soy crops to feed cattle, and generates huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Extraction industries of all kinds have found an ardent backer in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who came into office in January.

“I am worried,” said Brondizio, who is Brazilian, noting the weakening of environmental protections and an increase in the vilification of indigenous peoples.

Everywhere in the tropics, local populations that push back against big business and their backers are at risk.

More than 200 environmental campaigners — half from indigenous tribes in tropical forests — were murdered in 2017, according to watchdog group Global Witness.

“Our global home is under threat, and Nature is in decline, all driven by an economic and political system that favours increasing consumption and growth over living in harmony with Nature,” said Aroha Te Pareake Mead, a member of the Ngati Awa and Ngati Porou Maori tribes in New Zealand.

From Amazon rainforests to the Arctic Circle, indigenous peoples are under siege. Waiapi people cross the Feliz river by barge in Amapa state, Brazil

Map showing forest cover since 2000, in the five most affected countries

Schoolchildren play on melting ice at Yupik Eskimo village of Napakiak on the Yukon Delta in Alaska, where climate change threatens entire communities

Progression of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, with total area by state.

by Marlowe Hood, Agence-France Presse posted

Trudeau Attacked From All Sides Over Pipeline Stance

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons. Photo from PMO

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons. Photo from PMO

April 12th 2016

This article was originally published by nationalobserver.com

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was criticized from all sides on Tuesday in response to a published news report that alleged he had instructed key officials to prepare a strategy to approve major new pipeline projects.

While opposition Conservative MPs criticized Trudeau in the House of Commons for not doing more to cheerlead for the oil and gas industry, a leading climate change scientist and several environmental groups reacted to the news with disbelief.

John Stone, a former climatologist with Environment Canada, and vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II, said that building more pipelines is scientifically incompatible with meeting Canada’s climate change commitments.

“If you build a pipeline, you’re going to fill it with tar sands that’s going to increase our emissions and that’s not going to allow us to meet our climate change commitments,” said Stone, in an interview with National Observer.

He said it was impossible to burn the fossil fuel reserves currently available and meet the government’s objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Industry woes

Canadian industry advocates have said that new pipelines are now more important than ever to help them reach new markets and compete with other producers from around the world. They say the needs are particularly pressing for Alberta’s oilsands producers, which face higher costs to extract oil compared to most of their competitors.

The industry has been hammered in recent months and some tens of thousands of workers have lost jobs in Alberta since the fall of 2014 when global oil prices began to plummet. The bad economic news continued on Tuesday with Calgary-based Cenovus, a major oilsands producer, announcing that it was eliminating 250 jobs as it completed a wave of layoffs.

But environmental groups, who have warned about the consequences of rising heat-trapping carbon pollution from the industry, say new pipelines – such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project to British Columbia and TransCanada Corp’s cross-country Energy East project – are not the solution.

“I think ultimately the thing I can’t get my head around is why they think these pipelines make any economic sense,” said Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager for Environmental Defence.

“If you look right now, there’s very little economic case for the construction of these projects.”

Coy and shy

In the Commons, Conservative MPs, led by natural resources critic Candice Bergen, attacked Trudeau for not doing more to promote more oil and gas expansion. Bergen also suggested that some of Trudeau’s advisors should not be trusted since have publicly taken strong positions that show they care about the environment.

“The people in Alberta are looking for a government that will proudly stand up for Canadian oil and gas, not act coy and shy when it becomes convenient for it,” Bergen said.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr responded in the Commons by stressing the importance of improving market access for producers and slamming the federal Conservatives for suggesting that projects should be approved without a federal review.

“The prime minister has said there is no contradiction between building wind turbines and pipelines,” Carr said. “He has said it is a principal responsibility of the government of Canada to move our natural resources to market sustainably. That is why we are following a process that will consult with Canadians and give people the chance to understand that in this day and age we develop the economy sustainably with one eye on the environment and the other on job creation. That is the way we will move forward sustainably.”

The criticism followed a column published by the National Post on Monday that reported the prime minister has ordered staff to draw up plans to push the pipelines through.

Finance minister Bill Morneau and others in cabinet convinced Trudeau that the pipelines must be built to achieve the government’s ambitious economic growth targets, John Ivison reported in the National Post.

Government won’t prejudge any project

Following a morning federal cabinet meeting, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna dismissed the National Post report, without explicitly denying it. She noted that the government had already announced new measures to improve the review process for pipeline projects, including efforts to improve consultations with all affected communities and First Nations peoples and a review all evidence.

“For the projects that are already under review, we have a process – a process where we will make decisions based on the facts and evidence. This includes pipelines,” she told reporters. “So I don’t know where this (National Post) story came from, but it’s not what our process is.”

McKenna said the government won’t prejudge any project. It understands that resources need to get to market, she said, but recognizes that this will only happen if it’s done in a sustainable manner.

“I don’t get the feeling that we have to do this fast. We have to do this with a process that respects science and evidence. And we must take the time to evaluate each project and that’s what we’ll do.”

B.C. and Quebec unlikely to support pipeline development

Last week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told the province in a televised plea for approval of Energy East that every Canadian benefits from a strong energy sector.

“But we can’t continue to support Canada’s economy unless Canada supports us. That means one thing: building a modern and carefully regulated pipeline to tidewater,” Notley said.

She also stressed that her government had introduced a comprehensive climate change plan that would introduce an economy-wide carbon tax, shut down the province’s coal power plants, and set a limit on the annual carbon pollution allowed from oilsands producers – Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We now have a balanced framework to develop our industry, and every government in Canada understands this issue must be dealt with. We must get to ’yes’ on a pipeline.”

Scott said it’s unlikely either British Columbia or Quebec would support pipeline development and the federal government would face a challenge to win their support.

“I don’t know how they’re going to get either of those governments onside when there’s overwhelming opposition to both projects in those provinces.”

From Quebec, Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of the environmental group, Equiterre, wrote on his Facebook page: “If the contents of this article are true, the Trudeau government will find an awful lot of people on his trail, and I will be one of those.”

The Quebec group, along with Toronto-based Environmental Defence and the Alberta-based Pembina Institute are co-hosting a reception, Thursday night on Parliament Hill, with McKenna, the federal environment minister.

The purpose of the reception is to “celebrate a new era of climate change in Canada” as well as a new alliance between the three environmental groups.

Public trust

Graham Saul, executive director of Ecology Ottawa said that if the allegations in the National Post column are accurate, it would “fundamentally undermine” the “sincerity of the Trudeau administration when it comes to climate change and environmental integrity.”

Saul’s non-profit group – a group opposed to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline – sent out letters to all local Ottawa-area Liberal MPs on Tuesday, including McKenna, who represents the Ottawa Centre riding.

The letter asked the Liberal MPs to publicly deny the allegations in the National Post column to reassure Canadians that the government hadn’t already made up its mind to approve new pipelines.

“If true, this initiative brings into question the sincerity of the federal government’s statements regarding its intention to apply a meaningful climate test to fossil fuel expansion, and to ensure that the environment is adequately taken into consideration,” Saul’s letter read.

Trudeau’s government has pledged to help Canada move toward a low-carbon economy. He has also said that the country must make strategic investments in clean growth and new infrastructure, while continuing to “generate wealth from our abundant natural resources to fund this transition to a low-carbon economy.”

As well, Trudeau gave Carr a mandate letter last November with instructions that noted that the federal government had a “core responsibility” to help get Canadian resources to market.

“But that is only possible if we achieve the required public trust by addressing environmental, Indigenous Peoples’, and local concerns,” Trudeau told Carr in the mandate letter.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, said if Trudeau wants to be a climate leader, he can’t approve more pipelines.

“I think Trudeau has a big job ahead of him if he actually wants to act on what he’s saying, and what he has said, and what he was actually elected upon.”

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/04/12/news/trudeau-attacked-all-sides-over-pipeline-stance


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First Nations’ Challenges Of Northern Gateway Pipeline To Be Heard In Court

No-Enbridge

First Nations oppose Enbridge pipeline

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Multiple legal challenges aimed at overturning the federal government’s approval of the Enbridge (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline will be heard starting Thursday.

The challenges are expected to bring new scrutiny to the government’s environmental approval process and its responsibility to consult with aboriginal groups.

Eight First Nations, four environmental groups and one labour union launched the legal actions, which will be heard at the Federal Court of Appeal over six days in Vancouver.

Their arguments include that the federal panel that reviewed the project didn’t adequately consider threats to wildlife and oceans and excluded key issues of concern to First Nations.

“There was no consultation,” said Terry Teegee, a tribal chief with the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, which represents two communities that have filed litigation.

“We didn’t participate in the Joint Review Panel process because it didn’t address the issues that we wanted, in terms of the cumulative impacts of the project as well as our title and rights.”

The government accepted the panel’s recommendations and in June 2014 approved the $7-billion project that would carry bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to British Columbia’s coast. There were 209 conditions attached to the acceptance.

Canada’s Attorney General, Northern Gateway Pipelines L Partnership and the National Energy Board are named as respondents to the challenges.

Three organizations — Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and British Columbia’s Attorney General — will make arguments as interveners.

The federal government declined to comment ahead of the hearings.

Speaking for Northern Gateway, Ivan Giesbrecht said the company recognizes traditional aboriginal land use rights and believes First Nations should share in ownership and benefits.

“Our ongoing priority is to continue to build trust, engage in respectful dialogues and build meaningful partnerships with First Nations and Metis communities,” he said.

“We know we have more work to do in this regard and we are committed to doing this work.”

Giesbrecht said the Joint Review Panel’s examination of the Northern Gateway project was among the most exhaustive in Canadian history, spanning 180 days of hearings.

But Karen Wristen of the Living Oceans Society, among the groups that filed challenges, said the panel appeared to ignore crucial evidence submitted by interveners.

Her organization’s evidence indicated spilled bitumen would sink beneath the ocean’s surface, making it impossible to recover using conventional technology. The panel’s report, however, found the environment would recover within months or years — a conclusion that Wristen said there’s no evidence to support.

She said she hopes the hearings draw attention to Canada’s “suffering” environmental assessment process.

“I think environmental assessment in this country is in deep, deep trouble at the moment,” she said. “It’s not providing the kind of in-depth scientific review that the government would have us believe it is.”

Pete Erickson, a hereditary chief with the Nak’azdli First Nation, said Enbridge was given days to present its case to the panel while he got 10 minutes to speak for his people.

He said a 2014 Supreme Court decision that gave land title to the Tsilhqot’in sets a precedent that requires the government to not only consult with First Nations, but seek their approval.

“We’ve said that under no circumstances is the pipeline ever going to be allowed in the current presentation,” he said. “We’ve decided that there’s no way we can allow it and I believe that the court will recognize that we have the right to say that.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/first+nations+challenges+northern+gateway+pipeline+heard+court/11403512/story.html#ixzz3nH5gTCjb