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26 September 2014



News

Hydro to Build Conawapa Dam - CEO Says So 26 September 14

Manitoba's Public Utility Board(PUB) held hearings over four months in 2014 to review Manitoba Hydro's development plan. The PUB grudgingly agreed to the Keeyask dam being built, largely based on the significant amount already spent on the project. The Clean Environment Commission report regarding its Keeyask hearings came out after the PUB was finished its review, and Keeyask received its environmental licence during summer 2014.

The Manitoba government, according to CEO Thompson, accepted 14 of the extensive recommendations in the PUB report. including the recommendation to not build Conawapa.

During the annual Crown Corporation Committee meetings of the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday September 24, Hydro CEO Scott Thompson referred repeatedly to the future Conawapa project during his answers to questions from Opposition MLAs.

"The construction power station at Keewatinoow, the northern converter station, was put in service in July, and as I'd mentioned, site preparation is well under way"

The northern converter station, inside the Bipole III licence is for Conawapa, not for the Keeyask project, which will utilize an upgraded existing converter station. Continuing to build the northern converter station is essentially building for the Conawap generation station. This is occurring regardless of the PUB review and recommendation to government.

The additional $ 1 Billion cost for Bipole III, for a total of $ 4.6 Billion, which Manitoba Hydro announced recently, would be significantly less if the Conawapa converter station was not built.

View more information on Manitoba Wildlands Manitoba Hydro Projectspage
View September 24, 2014 The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations transcript
View Jon Gerrard's Blog
View Manitoba Government Public Utilities Board NFAT documents
View Manitoba Government Public Utilities NFAT Report

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People's Climate Action: Canadian Scientists Act 26 September 14

A group of prominent Canadian academics has signed a letter that says the nation is "running a sustainability deficit" when it comes to climate change. "Unlike budgetary deficits, it does not seem to preoccupy our politicians," said the letter, penned by at least 53 frustrated scientists and academics in advance of the People's Climate March held in New York City and many other centres around the world on Sunday.

"On Sept. 21, more than 1,000 events around the world were planned to demand stronger action on climate change, echoing New York's People's Climate March. As Canadian researchers who study climate change and sustainability, we strongly support this global mobilization.

Canada is running a sustainability deficit. Unlike budgetary deficits, this does not seem to preoccupy our politicians. Canada has repeatedly missed its own climate change emission reduction targets. Last January, Environment Canada acknowledged that Canada won't meet its least ambitious target to date, proposed in 2009 as part of international climate negotiations coined the Copenhagen Accord."

View September 23, 2014 United Nations Environment Programme article
View September 20, 2014 DeSmog Canada article
View September 16, 2014 The Gazette article
View May 8, 2013 Daily Kos article
View May 8, 2013 CBC News article

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Burnaby Defiant In Face of Kinder Morgan Pipeline 26 September 14

In a huge win for the City of Burnaby's legal battle to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the National Energy Board (NEB) struck down the company's application to forbid Burnaby city staff from blocking the pipeline company's test drilling on Burnaby Mountain.

The NEB's federal decision made public September 25th means Kinder Morgan will not proceed with its pipeline test drilling work in a protected forest area of Burnaby Mountain, until the company returns with a much larger legal offensive, with thorny constitutional implications. This legal battle could have a huge ripple effect for pipeline projects across Canada. Deciding if local city governments, and not just the federal Harper government, can have a say in oil pipeline approvals.

Protesters flocked to Burnaby Mountain on Saturday, September 13 to oppose Kinder Morgan’s survey, which was investigating how to triple their pipeline operation in Burnaby. Kinder Morgan was conducting the survey despite the city’s opposition to the project.

View September 25, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
View September 25, 2014 National Energy Board Ruling
View September 19, 2014 CBC News article
View September 17, 2014 CTV News article
View September 4, 2014 Vancouver Observer article
Visit Burnaby Pipeline Watch website

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UN Climate Summit 2014 26 September 14

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition. The Summit will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors. The Summit’s aim is to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015. The new climate agreement must limit the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

The UN Climate Summit was be about action and solutions focused on accelerating progress in areas that can significantly contribute to reducing emissions and strengthening resilience – such as agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, pollutants, resilience and transportation.

The Summit is not part of the UNFCCC negotiating process. By promoting climate action, it aimed to show that leaders across sectors and at all levels are taking action, thus expanding the reach of what is possible today, in 2015, and beyond.

Visit UN Climate Summit 2014 website
View September 23, 2014 CBC News article
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Mayors at UN climate summit announce pledges towards major carbon cuts in cities
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Leaders at UN summit take steps to ensure food security for 9 billion people by 2050
View September 23, 2014 United Nations article, Investors commit to decarbonize $100 billion in investments
View September 21, 2014 People's Climate March press release

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Bipole III Now $1 Billion More Expensive 19 September 14

Manitoba Hydro says its new estimate for the BiPole Three project is $4.6 billion, up from $3.3 billion in 2011 and its original figure of $2.2 billion in 2007. Public hearings were held in 2012 and 2013, with environmental licence issued in 2013. Appeals of that licence, including to Cabinet, ended recently, with all appeals rejected.

The Crown corporation says converter station technology is the main reason for the price jump -- businesses that submitted bids are not planning to use new types of converters that are normally used for shorter routes. Hydro CEO Scott Thompson says the extra cost will be paid over many years and will only mean an extra $4 a year for the average residential customer.

The Conawapa converter station is in the Bipole III licence. Based on Public Utility Board recommendations, it is no longer needed. The Riel converter station, being built on the east side of Winnipeg, is also in the Bipole III licence.

“Manitoba Hydro always tells us about higher capital costs after the environmental licence is in place. The same thing happened with Wuskwatim generation and transmission capital costs,” said Gaile Whelan Enns, Manitoba Wildlands director.

View September 18, 2014 CTV News article
View September 18, 2014 CBC News article
View September 18, 2014 Winnipeg Sun article

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Beekeepers Sue Chemical Companies Over Pesticides 19 September 14

Saturation point. Too many chemicals covering too much of the arable lands we used for growing food. This is what is going on and why bees are dying. Too many chemicals being used over too long a period have saturated the environment and the overuse of pesticides has created a convergence of chemical factors in bee habitat.

Canadian beekeepers are taking chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta to court alleging their pesticides – neonicotinids in particular – are responsible for the massive outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder in the last few years.

Think of it like the way alcohol works in the human body. Too much alcohol over too long a period of time and the human body begins to shutdown. This is essentially the same thing that is happening to the bees, except the pesticides in the environment have built up and are causing havoc with bee colonies.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.

A survey conducted by the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists found that of 100,000 Ontario honeybee colonies wintered in fall 2013, over 58,000 were dead or unproductive in spring 2014. Even taking a conservative estimate of 20,000 bees per hive, this means that over a billion bees died in Ontario this past winter.

Visit Ontario Beekeepers Association website
View Amended Statement of Claim
View September 11, 2014 Norfolk News article
View September 5, 2014 CBC News article
View September 3, 2014 CTV News article
View September 3, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View May 27, 2014 CBC News article

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North America Birds Now In Danger 19 September 14

Two recent studies explain in great detail that the bird population of North America is at dire risk of being substantially impacted by the creeping inevitability of climate change. Released Monday, September 8th by the National Audubon Society, the Birds and Climate Report uses seven years of research to examine the effects of climate change on 588 bird species. The second, "State of the Birds 2014," is a wider overview of America's avian health released Tuesday, September 9th by a 23-member coalition of federal agencies, universities and conservation groups.

Climate Change. We have heard a lot of talk about it. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) defines climate change as any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which defines ‘climate change’ as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’.

Volcanoes are a very good example of sudden and dramatic climate change catalysts. Humans have been recognized by the scientific community as perhaps the largest ever climate change catalyst the Earth has ever seen.

What does it all mean? Perhaps we should ask the birds that inhabit North America and that are dependent on insects for food. Insects require certain type of habitat to survive with regards to their own food needs. Habitats without an abundance of pesticide and chemical saturation. Birds need water. What happens when water sources change? When food sources are no longer in normal locations?

View September 10, 2014 Mother Nature Network article
View The Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report
View Nature Canada report: State Of The World's Birds
View World Meteorological Organization press release

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Lake Winnipeg Regulation - Hearings 2015 19 September 14

The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has been tasked with holding public hearings about the regulation of Lake Winnipeg water levels, and the issuing of a permanent licence to Manitoba Hydro to regulation water levels in the lake.

Last week the CEC announced that CEC hearings are moved back into 2015. This commitment for hearings is from Premier Sellinger. He made the commitment in January 2011, and then confirmed it again in a press release in July 2011. Terms of reference for the hearings have been in place since 2012.

Except these will be hearings without cross examination, without funding for participants legal counsel, without funding for independent experts who are part of participant teams, and without review of what Manitoba Hydro is providing as technical information. Early in 2015 the CEC will visit affected communities. And then there will be short hearings in Winnipeg. Then the CEC reports to Cabinet in 120 days after end of the hearings.

One has to ask - why the exclusion of outside information? No cross examination? No funding of participants in a supposedly 'public' process? No review of the information Manitoba Hydro is providing? We are talking about the same public utility right? The one owned by the people of Manitoba? What this boils down to is Manitoba Hydro not wanting any criticism of its use of Lake Winnipeg as a reservoir - and Hydro wanting a permanent licence so it can carry on believing it's assumption that artificially controlling the levels of such a large body of water could not possibly affect the health of Lake Winnipeg or cause the flooding of communities around the lake.

View more information on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page
View Manitoba Wildlands Lake Regulation Brief
View September 9, 2014 Yahoo! Canada News article
View February 5, 2013 CTV News article
View Living Lakes Canada information page
View Manitoba Government Lake Winnipeg Action Plan
View State of Lake Winnipeg: 1999 to 2007 Highlights

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Canada's Energy Strategy - Full of Words 5 September 14

The Premiers of Canada have all gone back to their respective provinces and what exactly will be the actions set in motion from all that talk? Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz hosted Canada's Premiers and their delegations for the 55th Annual Premiers Conference. The meeting took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island during the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference.

The Vision set forth at the conference - "Canada is a global leader in providing a secure, sustainable and reliable supply of energy that is delivered with a high standard of environmental and social responsibility, consistent with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to continued economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians."

While the vision statement puts a good foot forward it belies the reality Canada and the provinces really do face. Canada is not a global leader in supplying a reliable source of energy that is delivered with a high standard of environmental and social responsibility. This is hypocrisy - environmental and social responsibility are missing. Add to this the dismissal of Northern communities and concerns expressed by people across Canada about pollution from the Tar Sands.

Reduction of greenhouse gases has not happened, Canada is falling far behind the Kyoto Protocol projections, and in Manitoba there is no monitoring system and no reporting system to confirm or track reduction in greenhouses gases.

Prosperity for all Canadians? Tell that to all the First Nation communities whose rights have been trampled in the pursuit of profits as the federal and provincial governments to satisfy industry's thirst for easy money from energy and resource extraction without the consent of the First Peoples of Turtle Island.

View September 2, 2014 DeSmog Canada article
View August 29, 2014 The Council of the Federation Communique
View August 27, 2014 The National Post article
View Assembly of First Nations Honouring Earth page
View National Aboriginal Health Organization Resource Extraction Papers
View October 2008 National Aboriginal Health Organization report

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Imperial Metals - Polley Mine Disaster 5 September 14

The Mount Polley Mine disaster was a watershed event - pun intended- the likes of which the Canadian government and especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper certainly were not ready for. Swimming upstream against such an obvious breach of public trust is something to behold.

It's been over 3 weeks since the disaster began on August 4th and the breach in the tailings pond dam hasn't been plugged yet by Imperial Metals. Heavy metal laden sludge is still flowing down Hazeltine Creek to Quesnell Lake. Imperial Metals is getting away with discharging the contaminated water into Quesnel.

"The government isn't inspecting the mines, and the mining companies know it," said Glenda Ferris, a longtime advocate for environmentally safe mining in British Columbia. A landowner near Houston, BC, she lives beside the now-closed Equity Silver mine, which dumped acid-generating tailings waste into the environment in 1982.

The province of British Columbia has signed a letter of understanding with the Williams Lake Indian Band and the Soda Creek Indian Band to work in partnership on all aspects of the Mount Polley breach. The bands have said they’ll push for meaningful mining industry reform. Mining Water Canada says original estimates of the volume of the breach were ‘crude’. Imperial Metals is now admitting to 70 percent more discharge.

The Tsilhqot’in National Government, also based in Williams Lake, issued a statement Tuesday calling for better benefit-sharing for First Nations on major projects.

According to Elections BC's contributions registry, Imperial Metals and its various B.C. mine subsidiaries -- Mount Polley Mining Corp., Red Chris Development Co. and Huckleberry Mines Ltd. -- donated a total of $277,120 to various political parties and candidate campaigns since 2003. Out of that quarter-million in partisan financing, $233,710 went to the BC Liberals or its candidates, representing more than 84 per cent of its contributions.

Conflict of interest and lack of proper monitoring of the Mount Polley Mine are a toxic combination and together are sending ripples through the entire industry in Canada.

View September 4, 2014 Climate Progress article
View September 2014 Common Ground article
View August 30, 2014 Vice Article
View August 30, 2014 The Council of Canadians article
View August 13, 2014 The Guardian article
View August 13, 2014 Canada.com article
View August 13, 2014 Rabble.ca article
View August 6, 2014 Vancouver Sun article
View August 4, 2014 CBC News article

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Multiple Environment Reviews Summer 2014 25 July 14

The Manitoba NDP government has several public reviews going on during summer 2014. These include park management plans, a peatlands strategy for the province, and the appeal period for the Keeyask generation station licence. The steps for the Lake Winnipeg regulation review hearings are also starting.

Manitoba Wildlands is providing information about these reviews as most have not be announced in a government press release, and others are difficult to find on the government website. See our news item about the two reviews of the Manitoba Environment Act. See links below for information about these current and ongoing reviews.

Manitoba’s Peatlands Stewardship Strategy was released in early summer 2014, and it is under review until August 1, 2014. There is no information on the Manitoba Conservation website (see links below) as to filing public comments or the end of this public review period.

The deadline for appeal of the environment licence for the Keeyask Generation Station is August 2, 2014. Comments are sent to the licensing branch of Manitoba Conservation.

The regional cumulative effects assessment (RCEA) of Hydro generation on the Nelson, Burntwood, and Churchill rivers water basin is ongoing. The Manitoba Conservation public registry has a file and page for these materials. The CEC made a recommendation for this RCEA in its Bipole III report to the minister.

The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) is planning its hearings and community visits about the Regulation of Lake Winnipeg. The overdue filing from Manitoba Hydro is now due July 31, 2014.

View Manitoba Government Tomorrow Now page
View Manitoba Peatlands Stewardship Strategy
View The Peatlands Stewardship Strategy report
View Regional Cumulative Effects Assessment – Hydro system – Public Registry
View Lake Winnipeg Regulation review CEC hearings. Terms of Reference and Manitoba Hydro filing
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Governments page

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Manitoba Environment Act Subject of Two Reviews 25 July 14

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship recently announced its review of the province’s environment act, with email notices and posting on its pubic registry. A September 30, 2014 deadline has been set for public comments and recommendations about changes to the Act. No press release announced this review to the public. The Director of Licensing under the Environment Act is directing the government’s review of the Act.

Hundreds of installations, plants, mills, and factories in Manitoba were provided ‘grandfathered’ status under the Act, where they do not have an environment licence. Today’s standards in environmental assessment, public access to information, and responsibilities of the proponent for a development are dramatically different.

The Manitoba Law Commission has been involved in its review of Manitoba’s Environment Act since late 2013. Starting with a discussion paper and public event in January 2014, the Commission has conducted interviews with organizations and communities who are knowledgeable about the Act, and reviews, proceedings, hearings, and appeals under the Act. Written submissions can be provided to their offices. Their review and decisions on recommendations for the Act will continue through fall 2014 when they will be provided to the government of Manitoba.

To submit comments to Manitoba Conservation use this email address: publicregistry@gov.mb.ca.

View Manitoba Law Reform Commission projects
View Manitoba Government discussion paper
View Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship news
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Governments page

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014