Read this story form the Daily Telegraph on the concerns being raised by German brewers over the effects of natural gas fracking on the water they use to make beer. (May 23, 2013)
The Brauer-Bund beer association is worried that fracking for shale gas, which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into the ground, could pollute water used for brewing and break a 500-year-old industry rule on water purity.
Germany, home to Munich's annual Oktoberfest - the world's biggest folk festival which attracts around 7m visitors - has a proud tradition of brewing and beer drinking.
Under the "Reinheitsgebot", or German purity law, brewers have to produce beer using only malt, hops, yeast and water.
"The water has to be pure and more than half Germany's brewers have their own wells which are situated outside areas that could be protected under the government's current planned legislation on fracking," said a Brauer-Bund spokesman.
Watch this report by Global TV's Jas Johal, digging deeper into Premier Christy Clark's controversial Liquefied Natural Gas scheme. (May 1, 2013)
The Council of Canadians, along with the Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory, released a report this week examining the threat that a proposed Canada-EU free trade deal would have on a community’s ability to implement fracking regulations and fracking bans on both sides of the Atlantic. Canada began negotiations with Europe on the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) in 2009 and hope to conclude the agreement by this summer. As Canadian negotiators visit Brussels this week to continue negotiations, the report warns the proposed investment protection clauses in the agreement would jeopardise governments’ ability to regulate or ban fracking.
Read this story from the Canadian Press on Monday's televised leaders' debate in the lead-up to BC's May 14 provincial election. The NDP's confusing position on fracking featured prominently. (April 29, 2013)
Green Party Leader Jane Sterk quizzed both Clark and NDP Leader Adrian Dix on their environmental policies and Conservative Leader John Cummins trolled for votes by pointing out the Liberals weren’t likely to win the election so casting a vote in his direction would send a message.
But the most hard-fought exchanges were between Clark and Dix, as they traded barbs over whose economic platforms were likely to leave the province in better shape.
The HST “damaged every business on the way in and on the way out,” Dix charged, throwing out early the issue that did more than any other to damage Liberal fortunes in the province and prompted former premier Gordon Campbell to resign.
Clark responded that she had kept a commitment to give British Columbians a say in the matter and instead tried to focus the discussion on what the Liberals regard as an NDP platform that does nothing to create jobs.
The NDP has made skills training a focus of its platform, saying the Liberals have cut money for those programs.
“Instead of investing in skills training, the government has cut skills training,” Dix said.
Retorted Clark: “In your plan, Mr. Dix, you’re talking about training people and giving them the education they need to go find jobs in Alberta.”
As the midway point of the election campaign dawns Tuesday, the television debate raised the stakes.
In the lead-up to the television appearance, the Liberals attempted to pin Dix on his party’s stance on natural gas fracking, noting that while Dix has promised to allow fracking to continue while a review takes place, one of his candidates has instead promised a two-year moratorium.
Such a moratorium, the Liberals say, would dash the province’s hopes of the jobs and economic growth that would come with a head start in the worldwide race to develop liquefied natural gas.
The NDP, in turn, seized on a comment made by Clark last week during an all-leaders’ radio debate, when she was asked why her government cancelled funding to an arms-length body that conducted evaluations of drugs for PharmaCare.
Dix’s news conference on the Therapeutics Initiative was overshadowed by comments made by Charlie Wyse, the NDP candidate in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, who said his party wants a moratorium on fracking.
“The position of the NDP is that there will be a moratorium put on fracking for the next two years while the science will be brought together to find out the effect, if anything, that fracking has on the water table,” Wyse said during an all-candidates’ meeting Friday. A recording of his comments was provided by the Liberals.
Dix said simply Wyse misspoke.
“We don’t support a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. We do support a review,” Dix said.
“We are concerned around issues of water use and we will conduct (such a review) should we be elected based on the science. That’s been there for a number of years. There won’t be any moratorium. We’ll be awaiting the results of that review.”
The Liberals have repeatedly pointed out what they say are discrepancies between the NDP’s official platform, as outlined by Dix, and what some of his candidates have said in the past.
They point to George Heyman, the former executive director of Sierra Club B.C., who was opposed to fracking and is now the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fairview. Heyman has said he now adopts the NDP position.
NDP energy critic John Horgan said earlier in the campaign that though a moratorium is not what the NDP is pursuing, “you don’t put in place a review if you’ve predetermined the outcome,” and he noted he has not seen any evidence to suggest a moratorium is necessary.
Read this story from The Kamloops Daily News on Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis' recent presentation in the community, titled "WATER + POWER: The Future of BC's Energy, Environment and Democracy." The event drew a crowd of a hundred to the Desert Garden Seniors' Centre Tuesday night. (April 24, 2013)
B.C. isn't confronted with just two pipeline proposals but a matrix of energy-related developments crisscrossing the province and amounting to an unprecedented drain on finite water resources, Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis told a gathering on Tuesday night.
That means voters need to familiarize themselves with B.C.'s position in what they referred to as the "carbon corridor" vision for Western Canada.
"I think we're literally at a watershed point in our province," Mair said, adding that the course of events in recent years has changed his views. The former Kamloops lawyer, MLA, author and radio commentator has been collaborating with Gillis, a documentary filmmaker.
They maintain an online environmental journal called The Common Sense Canadian, based on their belief that mainstream media are not telling the full story of B.C.'s systematic environmental degradation.
And they've hit the campaign trail to spread their message to Interior residents in the run-up to May 14.
"I'm not here shilling for any political party," Mair said. "I'm campaigning because I'm an old man and I think we're literally at a watershed point in our province."
With this election, voters have a last chance to alter the course of the province's energy developments — including pipelines, the proposed Site C dam and independent power projects — to ensure that economics don't undermine the essential quality of life, he said.
Gillis said there has been little mention of the full costs of the vision for liquefied natural gas development in B.C.'s northeastern corner, touted as a long-term solution to provincial debt.
"We believe there are a lot of holes in this theory and also a lot of tradeoffs," said Gillis, whose family farmed in the Peace for a century before it was flooded in 1966. "It's going to be a boondoggle. It's going to be highly subsidized and it's not going to work."
Hydraulic fracturing used to extract the gas poses environmental risks, uses vast amounts of water and is energy-intensive on its own, he said. He showed clips from Fractured Land, a film he's producing on the issue, suggesting strong community resistance to the energy agenda.
Read more: http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20130424/KAMLOOPS0101/130429938/-1/kamloops/power-projects-said-to-undermine-future
Read this story from The Vancouver Sun on Environment Canada's call for the oil and gas industry to ratchet up the standards of its "voluntary disclosure" of the chemicals it uses in natural gas "fracking" operations. (April 12, 2013)
Environment Canada wants oil and gas companies to come clean about the unidentified fluids they inject deep underground to extract natural gas.
In newly released correspondence obtained by Postmedia News, the department's top official told the main Canadian oil and gas lobby group that the government needed more information about the industrial process commonly known as fracking: fracturing shale rock formations underground with fluids to extract the gas.
Paul Boothe, the former deputy minister, wrote that a new industry voluntary disclosure program was a "positive step" toward improving environmental performance, increasing transparency and the "use of fluids with the least environmental risk."
But his letter to Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, also suggested the environment department, which has authority to regulate toxic substances under existing environmental laws, wasn't satisfied.
"Environment Canada would like to work with your organization and others to ensure that the voluntary disclosure is structured so that we can determine the environmental impact of these substances," wrote Boothe in the March 13, 2012 letter, released using access to information legislation.
"To further inform this work, information such as all chemical additives used, their volumes, and their storage and disposal methods would be required."
Environment Canada and the industry association were not immediately able to respond to questions about whether they had made progress in sharing information about the fluids since last year.
In an email, an association spokesman said it had asked members to respond to a voluntary government questionnaire, but did not track results.
Environment Canada also sent an email to say it was still working with other governments and companies to get information, but declined to provide details of any results.
Shale gas is considered to be a "game changer" that dramatically improves energy supplies and reduces consumer costs, while at the same time prompting environmental reviews and protests over concerns about potential water contamination.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair last June accused the same industry lobby group of "pulling a con job" when it suggested fracking processes were regulated, while refusing to disclose the content of their fluids that, he said, have "known carcinogens and other very dangerous substances."
Boothe, an economist who left Environment Canada to direct a policy centre at the University of Western Ontario's business school last summer, warned Environment Minister Peter Kent that water consumption and contamination topped the list of environmental concerns related to fracking.
Read this story from the Climate Desk on gases escaping from fracking operations, costing the US gas industry an estimated $1.5 billion a year, while adding to climate change. (April 5, 2013)
Of all the many and varied consequences of fracking (water contamination, injured workers, earthquakes, the list goes on) one of the least understood is so-called “fugitive” methane emissions. Methane is the primary ingredient of natural gas, and it escapes into the atmosphere at every stage of production: at wells, in processing plants, and in pipes on its way to your house. According to a new study, it could become one of the worst climate impacts of the fracking boom—and yet, it’s one of the easiest to tackle right away. Best of all, fixing the leaks is good for the bottom line.
According to the World Resources Institute, natural gas producers allow $1.5 billion worth of methane to escape from their operations every year. That might sound like small change to an industry that drilled up some $66.5 billion worth of natural gas in 2012 alone, but it’s a big deal for the climate: While methane only makes up 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (20 percent of which comes from cow farts), it packs a global warming punch 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
“Those leaks are everywhere,” said WRI analyst James Bradbury, so fixing them would be “super low-hanging fruit.”
The problem, he says, is that right now those emissions aren’t directly regulated by the EPA. In President Obama’s first term, the EPA set new requirements for capturing other types of pollutants that escape from fracked wells, using technology that also, incidentally, limits methane. But without a cap on methane itself, WRI finds, the potent gas is free to escape at incredible rates, principally from leaky pipelines. The scale of the problem is hard to overstate: The Energy Department found that leaking methane could ultimately make natural gas—which purports to be a “clean” fossil fuel—even more damaging than coal, and an earlier WRI study found that fixing methane leaks would be the single biggest step the US could take toward meeting its long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals.
What’s more, the solution to the problem doesn’t rely on some kind futuristic, expensive technology: It’s literally a matter of patching up leaky pipes.
Read more: http://climatedesk.org/2013/04/frackers-are-losing-1-5-billion-yearly-to-leaks/
Yesterday, I joined several thousand British Columbians in submitting my comments to the environmental assessment process for the proposed Site C Dam in northeast BC. While it will likely take a few days for the most recent submissions to be registered on the government website for the process, judging by early indications, this was one of the largest-ever responses by the BC public to an environmental assessment - a clear sign of how much this issue matters to British Columbians. The Sierra Club and civic engagement driver LeadNow teamed up to facilitate online submissions and are reporting over 3,400 comments filed by yesterday's deadline...Herewith my own letter to the Review Panel.
Premier Christy Clark wants BC citizens to subsidize the oil and gas industry with a $10 Billion taxpayer-funded dam. Though she won't put it quite like that, that's precisely the implication of her recent comments to Global TV: "You can't power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro's going to have to build Site C - we're in favour of making that happen." But, as the deadline for submitting public comments to the environmental assessment for Site Dam approaches, do British Columbians really want to foot the bill for the dam and flood 20,000 acres of quality farmland and wildlife habitat - all to subsidize the oil and gas industry with cheap power?
Eco-Footprint Founder Dr. Bill Rees on Resources, the 7 Billion and You
With human population exploding and demand for resources fast outstripping supply, Dr. Bill Rees, founder of the "eco-footprint" concept, calls for "a new cultural narrative that shifts the values of society from growth (getting bigger) to development (getting better) - from competitive individualism, greed and narrow self-interest toward community, cooperation and our collective interests in repairing the earth for survival."
Five Oil Spills in One Week: 'Accidents' or Business as Usual?
What do ExxonMobil, Enbridge, Suncor, CP Rail and a Michigan Utility have in common? They've all spilled oil within the past week. This latest round of disasters should give Canadian and US lawmakers pause as they contemplate new pipelines.
All Candidates Dialogue Wednesday Promises "Real Talk on Climate Change"
An all candidates dialogue on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver - featuring representatives from four different political parties and one independent candidate vying for office in the May 14 provincial election - will focus on solutions to climate change.
Anyone who has been following the sorry saga of inexplicable diseases and unusual mortality in BC's wild salmon will not be surprised that the information in Twyla Roscovich's documentary, Salmon Confidential, links the source of this trouble to the salmon farming industry. The surprise, however, is the impact of such information when its complexity is condensed to an intense 70 minutes.
Mother Nature, US Govt Chase Shell Out of Arctic
Shell Oil, the first energy company granted coveted Arctic drilling permits by the US Government, is shutting down operations for all of 2013, nearly as quickly as they began. Shell's hand is being forced by the Interior Department, following a scathing report which castigated the company for a series of misadventures in 2012 and early 2013.
Paul Simon Lends Song to Coastal First Nations' Anti-Tanker Video
A 2-minute video produced by Coastal First Nations - a group representing nine different aboriginal communities on BC's north and central coast - is underscored by the famous Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence." The video, which harkens back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in nearby Alaskan waters, was released around the 24th anniversary of that disaster, in order to voice opposition to the new threat from proposed tanker traffic on BC's coast.
'Heartwood' Explores Clash Between Different Visions for Future of Forestry
"Cortes is not just a bunch of crazy tree-huggers...We want to log our lands. We want a community forest," one of the subjects of the forthcoming documentary film Heartwood tells Vancouver-based director Daniel Pierce. The film explores the conflict over logging practices on a remote island on BC's south coast, which encapsulates a larger debate currently shaping the future of forestry in the province.
Why the NDP Can and Should Say No to Site C Dam
The BC NDP may finally coming to their senses on Site C Dam. On the heels of the release of new documents from BC Hydro in recent weeks, the Official Opposition is calling into question the crown corporation's proposed 1,100 Megawatt hydropower project. And so it should...With BC Hydro in virtual bankruptcy, skyrocketing hydro bills for consumers and businesses, a massive and escalating provincial debt and $80 Billion in additional contractual obligations for which taxpayers are on the hook, pushing ahead with Site C would be the height of fiscal recklessness for BC.
Working Together Through Idle No More - Ben West, Mandy Nahanee, Damien Gillis Web Chat
Damien Gillis hosts a google web video chat discussing how indigenous and non-indigenous peoples can work together through the growing Idle No More movement to address historical injustices and build a sustainable energy future. Featuring Squamish and Nisga'a First Nations member and protocol specialist Amanda Nahanee and Ben West, Tar Sands campaigner for ForestEthics.
The Different Faces of Idle No More - Web Chat
Watch this 10 min web chat, in which two young, indigenous men discuss their different experiences across the country with the growing Idle No More Movement.
Idle No More - Scenes from a Vancouver Train Station
On January 2, 2013, hundreds of First Nations and non-indigenous people converged on Vancouver's Waterfront Station for the latest Idle No More rally. The beating of drums and singing of traditional songs signaled this crowd's solidarity with the movement that is building across the country and beyond its borders.
Travelling Canada's Carbon Corridor - the Making of Fractured Land
Watch this presentation by Damien Gillis, co-director of Fractured Land - a documentary in production which examines the industrialization of northern Canada through the eyes of a young indigenous man named Caleb Behn - at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Kinder Morgan Vancouver Pipeline, Tanker Debate
On Oct 30, the Board of Change hosted a debate in Vancouver on American energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port to access new foreign markets with Alberta Tar Sands bitumen. Hear both sides of the story as representatives of Kinder Morgan and the shipping industry square off against an environmental activist, lawyer and filmmaker over the future of the world's "Greenest City", the province of BC and the planet.
Justice Cohen Gets Tough on Fish Farms - Inquiry Report Released
Video from the press conference on the release of the final report from the Cohen Commission into disappearing sockeye. Justice Bruce Cohen highlighted several key recommendations to protect wild salmon from open net pen aquaculture operations, including: removing the promotion of aquaculture from DFO's mandate, prioritizing the health of wild salmon over suitability for aquaculture when siting farms, and even removing some farms if more research into diseases shows they cannot safely coexist with wild fish.
Video: Pipelines "Job Killers" - Energy Workers Union Leader @ Defend Our Coast
Watch this powerhouse speech from Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union at the Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria explaining why his members are "diametrically opposed" to Tar Sands pipelines to BC's coast.
Video: Rafe Mair Honoured with Wilderness Committee's Eugene Rogers Award
The Wilderness Committee, Canada's largest member-based environmental organization, honoured hall of fame broadcaster and co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian Rafe Mair with its annual Eugene Rogers Award for outstanding contribution to environmental protection in BC at its AGM this past weekend.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 2 - LNG, Site C Dam and the Global Economy
In Part 2 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview of economist Erik Andersen, the two cover the plan to build Liquefied Natural Gas plants on BC's west coast - to sell natural gas to Asia - and the proposed Site C Dam. Andersen raises real concerns about investing in new dams and electrical infrastructure to supply industries like mines and LNG.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 1 - The 'Enronization' of BC Hydro
Part 1 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview with economist Andersen, delving deep into BC's troubled energy situation, including Hydro's broken forecasting model, rip-off private power projects, and massive debt and Enron-style accounting practices at our public utility - all driven by the shadowy private American corporation to which we've unwittingly handed over our energy sovereignty.