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Canada World Water Day 2015 20 March 2015

March 22 is World Water Day - a day to celebrate and protect water. In 2012, the Harper government gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act and removed protections from 99 per cent of lakes and rivers in Canada. The government also specifically exempted pipelines projects from this act, leaving waterways vulnerable to pipeline spills.

There are thousands of Canadians who cannot safely drink the water out of the taps in their homes. In some extreme cases, they may not even have indoor plumbing. The worst part is that for many, help isn’t on the way.

Canada lacks a national water law and rigorous, enforceable water quality standards. Instead, it relies on an uneven patchwork of provincial water policies and regulations to protect drinking water. This means that from coast to coast to coast, our drinking water is not available or equally protected. While most major Canadian cities have relatively sophisticated water treatment facilities, many rural, low-income, or First Nations communities lack such infrastructure and rely on untreated or minimally treated water.

World Water Day is a day to make sure Canada does better.

View March 20, 2015 The Chronicle Journal article
View March 19, 2015 Ecojustice article
View March 19, 2015 Environmental Defence article
View March 16, 2015 Drayton Valley Western Review article
View March 14, 2015 The Council of Canadians article

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Lake Winnipeg Hearings Open in Winnipeg 13 March 2015

The Clean Environment Commission northern and rural tour for community consultations regarding regulation of Lake Winnipeg and the request for a final licence moved to Winnipeg March 9, 2015. The licence would be back dated under the Water Power Act, to 1976, and run for 50 years until a renewal is needed.

Three weeks of hearings are booked during March, with a return to the hearing in Winnipeg after Easter. During the January and February tour several sessions were held in First Nations communities.

Manitoba Hydro’s Panel presented its highlights from their formal filing during summer 2014. The utility’s position is that there are no impacts to the Lake from making Lake Winnipeg a reservoir for 40 years, and that all the impacts are downstream, north of Lake Winnipeg inside the hydro system.

All exhibits, reports, transcripts from the Lake Winnipeg Regulation hearing are posted on the CEC website.

View Manitoba Clean Environment Commission Hearings page
View more on Manitoba Wildlands Lake Winnipeg page

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Site C Dam is Damned 13 March 2015

Harry Swain, chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada's largest current infrastructure project says the B.C. government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision.

The B.C. government was wrong to approve construction of the $8.8-billion Site C dam project without an independent examination of cost and need, says Swain. Some of the questions that still need to be answered, according to Swain, include the real cost and availability of alternatives, how B.C. should use its Columbia River rights, how British Columbians will react to increased electricity prices (which could decrease demand) and how the province’s liquefied natural gas industry will develop.

Site C would be a hydroelectric facility on the Peace River, seven kilometres south of Fort St. John. A newly created reservoir would be about 83 kilometres long and two-to-three times wider than the current river, flooding 5,550 hectares of land. Current estimates are it would take eight years and $8.5 billion to build the facility.

Farmers, ranchers and First Nations have all objected to Site C, which was rejected thirty years ago.

View March 12, 2015 The Common Sense Canadian article
View March 11, 2015 DeSmog Canada article
View March 10, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View December 19, 2014 CBC News article
View December 16, 2014 Huffington Post article
View Wilderness Committee Stop The Site C Dam page

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Manitoba Climate Plan Consultations Underway 13 March 2015

In 2012 the Government of Manitoba released TomorrowNow—Manitoba’s Green Plan, which includes commitments to update its climate change plan and create the first green economy action plan for Manitoba. As an initial step in this process, the province has asked the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to host a series of consultation sessions with key stakeholders on climate change and the green economy. Each meeting will focus on a specific sector, and will seek an open dialogue on Manitoba’s new climate change and green economy action plan discussion paper.

Climate change threatens social, economic and environmental systems on a global scale. Governments at every level are seeking to increase climate resilience, lower vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, implement adaptive actions and participate in the newly emerging green economy. Manitoba is no exception.

The next Manitoba climate change plan will integrate both adaptation and mitigation strategies, with an increased focus on adaptation. It will be important for the coming plan to consider the adaptation impacts of mitigation actions (and vice versa), as well as identify areas where co-benefits can be achieved and negative side effects avoided regarding mitigation or adaptation actions.

To date Manitoba is not counting and reporting emissions for any site or source less than 100,000 tonnes per year. Manitobans are encouraged to go online and respond to the discussion paper.

View January 2015 International Institute for Sustainable Development background paper
View TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan
View International Institute for Sustainable Development action page
View June 6, 2014 Manitoba Government news release

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Premiers to Meet on Climate Change - Be There 6 March 2015

Canada’s Premiers are going to Quebec City in April to talk about climate change. Plans are underway for a large, festive and family friendly demonstration on April 11, 2015, the Saturday before the Premiers meet. The Premiers of Canada’s provinces (Council of the Federation) will hear and see a simple message: Yes to climate protection, No to expanding Canada’s tar sands and pipelines, Yes to just, green, renewable energy.

Organizations across Canada are being lead by Quebec’s environmental movement and include: labour, faith, and environmental organizations who are endorsing the April 11, 2015 mass demonstration in Quebec City. Endorsers include Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Canada. See link to endorsers list below.

The organizers and endorsers want us all to think about our situation: We cannot protect the climate while supporting extreme energy projects like the tar sands and the pipelines that enable them.

View Act on Climate website
View Act on Climate blog post
View Act on Climate Endorsers list

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Two Environment Act Reviews - No Results 6 March 2015

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship announced that it would conduct a review of the Manitoba Environment Act, and released a discussion paper. Public comments closed in September 2014. The public registry, as of February 4, 2015, contains the materials, and sets of public comments returned.

The Manitoba Law Reform Commission began its review of the Manitoba Environment Act in summer 2013, with a public launch workshop in January 2014. The stated objective of their review was to review “Manitoba’s Environmental Assessment and Licensing Regime.” The Commission undertook in person interviews that were extensive, combined with their own research. They posted their report for public comments, ending March 6, 2015.

Manitoba Wildlands submitted a combined set of comments and recommendations regarding the Environment Act, environmental assessment, and licensing regime in Manitoba in September, 2014. The aim was to respond to both the Law Reform Commission and Manitoba Conservation reviews. To date it is not clear how the Manitoba Wildlands recommendations and comments will be applied to decisions about updating the Environment Act in Manitoba. The specifics of the mandate for the two reviews have not been made public.

Changes in laws in Manitoba go through a public hearing review process each year in June, through a committee of the Legislature. There are no amendments, or draft legislation available at this time.

View January 2015 Manitoba Law Reform Commission Report
View Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Public Registry File # 5711
View Manitoba Wildlands October 2014 Manitoba Environment Act review comments

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Fracking Sand to Come from Manitoba 6 March 2015

As oil prices rise and fall, producers search for means to increase production in existing wells, and exploit new oil and gas fields, This trend to maximize production has caused an unprecedented demand for hydraulic fracturing sand (frac sand).

Frac sands are used as a proppant, or sized particles mixed with fracturing fluid to hold fractures open after a hydraulic fracturing treatment. This treatment, known as hydrofracing, is the forcing of a concoction of frac sands, viscous gel and other chemicals down a well to prop open fractures in the subsurface rocks thus create a passageway for fluid from the reservoir to the well.

Toronto-based Claim Post Resources Inc. is fast becoming a provider of premium white silica sand proppant to the oil and gas industry in the U.S. and Canada. Claim Post Resources, Manitoba center is near Seymourville on the southeast shore of Lake Winnipeg, some 200 km northeast of Winnipeg. Immediately east of the property is the Hollow Water First Nation, adjacent to Lake Winnipeg.

Manitoba will be adding another project that increases climate change, the development of frac sands for hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a method of extracting liquid natural gas that causes earthquakes and contaminates aquifers and drinking water.

View July 30, 2014 The Northern Miner article
View July 12, 2013 Winnipeg Free Press article
View Victory Nickel Inc. Frac Sand at Minago page
Visit Claim Post Resources Inc. website

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Obama Vetos Keystone XL Bill 6 March 2015

President Barrack Obama only vetoed a bill from Congress that would have forced approval of the pipeline project. Hhe did this because he wants to retain the power to make the Keystone decision himself and this can still go either way.

The TransCanada Corp pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Canadian oil sands crude to Nebraska en route to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf. It has been pending for more than six years.

Obama, who rejected the bill hours after it was sent to the White House, said the measure unwisely bypassed a State Department process that will determine whether the project would be beneficial to the United States.

"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," he wrote in his veto message.

In a message to President Barack Obama, Robert Redford, actor, director and trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council shared some insights; ‘President Obama was right to veto a bill that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – and the Senate was right to vote Wednesday to let the veto stand. That bill was not in our national interest: it was political payback to big oil.’

View 350.org's response to President Obama’s veto
View March 4, 2015 MSNBC article
View February 25, 2015 Huffington Post article
View February 25, 2015 Democracy Now! article
View February 24, 2015 Rolling Stone article
View February 24, 2015 The Washington Post article
View February 24, 2015 The Hill article

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Ontario Choosing Climate Leadership 20 February 2015

A strategy paper from Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray says a carbon pricing system “is the most cost-effective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Following the release of a climate change strategy discussion paper on Thursday February 12th, Environment Minister Glen Murray told reporters his ministry will take the next several months to craft a carbon pricing policy. Whether that will be a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax remains to be seen.

Engaging the public in a conversation about climate change builds on Ontario's recent achievements including closing coal plants, curbing the use of cosmetic pesticides and protecting 1.8 million acres of land. These initiatives have resulted in fewer smog days and cleaner water.

Ontario’s role in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) and First Minister’s Conference with respect to climate change will be known this Spring.

View Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper 2015
View February 13, 2015 Association of Corporate Counsel article
View February 12, 2015 CTV News article
View February 12, 2015 The Star article
View February 12, 2015 NorthumberlandView.ca article
View January 20, 2015 The Brock Press article

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Boreal Summit - White Elephant 20 February 2015

A provincial government summit on the future of the Boreal Forest in Manitoba was held in The Pas February 17th. Representatives of First Nations, government, northern communities and conservation groups gathered in Opaskwayak Cree Nation to discuss development and protection of the boreal forest.

Around 60 people attended this invite only summit. Only one Chief attended – Ron Evans from Norway House. All other First Nation representatives were councilors and proxies. Several environmental organizations attended as did the Honourable Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Conservation. The Honourable Eric Robinson arrived late in the day.

Before the summit a poll of Manitobans was released showing an apparent 88% in favour of protecting 50% of the remaining boreal forest in Manitoba. An invite only summit cannot define nor constitute community engagement or provide open dialogue for proper protection and conservation of the boreal forest in Manitoba.

Manitoba Wildlands hopes our government keeps its commitments regarding establishment of parks and protected areas. Our boreal regions are under-represented in Manitoba’s Network of Protected Areas.

View February 19, 2015 Thompson Citizen article
View February 17, 2015 Manitoba Government news release
View February 17, 2015 Market Wired article
View June 16, 2014 Global News article
View June 16, 2014 CBC News article

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NEB Loses All Credibility Ignoring Climate Change 20 February 2015

More than 100,000 messages from people across Canada were hand delivered today to the National Energy Board's (NEB) office in Calgary demanding climate change be included in the NEB's review of the Energy East tar sands pipeline. With participation from 350.org, Leadnow.ca, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace & Avaaz, it is the largest petition ever delivered to the National Energy Board.

"Peter Watson, the head of the NEB, needs to listen to the tens of thousands of Canadians demanding the huge climate impacts of the Energy East tar sands pipeline be included as part of the pipeline review," said Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

The Energy East pipeline would transport 1.1 million barrels per day of toxic tar sands oil from Alberta to the Atlantic Ocean, traversing at least 90 watersheds and 961 waterways between Alberta and New Brunswick—including some protected by Indigenous treaty rights.

Recent changes to Canada's environmental review processes, including the language of the National Energy Board Act, mean that only people who the NEB considers to be "directly affected" by the pipeline and The who choose from a pre-determined list of issues are allowed to provide input into the review. Climate change is not on the list of issues, although participants are invited to share their concerns related to marine shipping.

View February 4, 2015 Toronto350.org article
View February 2, 2015 The Council of Canadians article
View December 11, 2014 The Star article
View November 25, 2014 CBC News article
View August 21, 2014 The Globe and Mail article
View July 29, 2014 City of Vancouver article

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Manitoba Hydro Denied Rate Hikes 7 February 15

Manitoba Hydro said in its general rate application it wants to finalize a 2.75 per cent interim rate increase that was effective May 1, 2014, and a further interim 3.95 per cent rate increase, effective April 1, 2015. It also wanted the PUB to approve a further 3.95 per cent rate increase effective April 1, 2016.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) said it was "extremely reluctant" to be asked to approve a rate increase for next year in such a period of volatility. The PUB also recommends that the Manitoba government subject Hydro’s plans to build the Bipole III transmission line and two new generation stations, Keeyask and Conawapa, to a review by an independent panel.

The full decision, available on PUB’s website, can be seen as a public rebuke of Hydro’s plan to spend $20 billion over the next decade -- a plan supported by the Selinger government -- and the risk it poses to Manitobans.

Hydro said in its application it needs the rate increases at double the rate of inflation over the next two years to help ensure its financial integrity under its $20.1-billion development. Ratepayers help pay for the construction of the Keeyask dam, the Bipole III transmission line, the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) and other upgrades to the electricity distribution system.

To put it in very basic language, Manitoba Hydro wants to raise its rates in order to be able to pay for its already substantial debt and stay afloat as a business while it builds Bipole 3, Keeyask and MMTP.

View January 29, 2015 The Carillon article
View January 25, 2012 Mondaq article
View January 17, 2012 Winnipeg Free Press article
View January 16, 2015 Manitoba Hydro General Rate Application
View Manitoba Hydro 2014/15 Interim Rate Application Information Requests of The Public Utilities Board of Manitoba

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