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U.S. Looks to Crack Down on Pollution of Montana River from B.C. Coal Mines

Read time: 7 mins
Elk Valley Teck Coal mines Garth Lenz

The continuous flow of dangerous pollution from B.C.’s Elk Valley coal mines into a Montana watershed is a top discussion item for Canadian and U.S. delegates convening at a bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

Selenium from five metallurgical coal mines owned and operated by Teck Resources has been leaching into B.C.’s Elk River and flowing southeast into Montana’s Kootenai River watershed for decades. Contamination levels measured in U.S. waters exceeds maximum concentration limits outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Selenium is released from waste rock piled at Teck’s large-scale open-pit coal mines, where rainfall and snowmelt draw it into the Elk and Fording Rivers. Selenium can be harmful to biological organisms at even small amounts and causes deformities in fish and birds.

More Ducks, Hungrier Bears: Climate Change is Altering Arctic Arithmetic

Read time: 4 mins

The effects of climate change can be complex and unpredictable. For one species of Arctic duck, the result is a tense standoff between population growth and decline.

Eiders are a species best known for their light, fluffy down. Each spring the birds return to their coastal tundra colonies and build nests on the ground, protected only by a low profile.

How Canada Could Prevent Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and Save the Porcupine Caribou

Read time: 5 mins
Peter Mather porcupine caribou herd

In the mid-1970s, a young lawyer named Ian Waddell took a helicopter ride across the Crow Flats, in northern Yukon. He was accompanying Justice Thomas Berger on his visits to community after community — the so-called Berger Inquiry — to gain their input into a proposed gas pipeline from the Beaufort Sea to Alberta.

When they landed, Berger turned to him and, as Waddell recounts it, said, “You know, Ian, do you realize the magnificence of what we saw yesterday? It’s the last of North America — the eighth wonder of the world.”

That landscape the judge so admired is home to the Porcupine caribou herd, around 200,000 strong, which roam on the world’s longest land-mammal migration between Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. On the Canadian side of the border, two national parks, Ivvavik and Vuntut, protect much of the herd’s habitat.

But on the Alaska side of the border, the land and the herd that depends upon it have come under threat from oil and gas drilling after President Trump opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in his recent tax bill.

‘We’re Talking Very Big Bucks’: New Bill Could Put Oil Companies on the Hook for Climate Change Costs

Read time: 4 mins
Fort McMurray wildfire

Oil companies have become some of the wealthiest organizations in history by producing a product that we now know is endangering the future of humanity.

Many of these companies have known about the effects of carbon dioxide for decades, yet while they adapted their own businesses to survive climate change, they actively undermined efforts to understand it.

Should Canadians be able to sue oil companies for that?

Fish Farm Lowballed Number of Escaped Atlantic Salmon, Misled Regulator: Report

Read time: 6 mins
Cooke Aquaculture Fish Farm Escaped Salmon Beau Garreau

It’s been a nightmarish year for Washington State’s only active Atlantic salmon farming company — Canada’s Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

On Tuesday, a Cooke subsidiary was found responsible for an August 2017 fish farm mishap that released up to 263,000 Atlantic Salmon into Washington’s Puget Sound — in addition to misleading the public and regulators about the cause, and lowballing the number of fish that escaped.

Those were the key findings of an investigation led by Washington’s Department of Ecology, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — which started last fall after a net pen near Cypress Island in Puget Sound (about 50 km east of Victoria) broke up on August 19.

The collapse was not the result of natural causes,” said Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands at a press conference Tuesday.  “Cooke’s disregard caused this disaster and recklessly put our state’s aquatic ecosystem at risk.”

How a U.S. Company is Suing Canada for Rejecting Quarry in Endangered Whale Nursery

Read time: 4 mins
Right Whales

When a Canadian federal-provincial environmental review panel ruled in 2007 that a proposed quarry would go against community core values and would threaten right whales and other marine life in the Bay of Fundy, groups that had fought against the project believed that was the end of the story.

But, that is not how the system works under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has dispute settlement provisions allowing corporations to sue governments for compensation when they feel the local environmental approvals process has interfered with expected profits.

Rail Workers Acquitted in Trial on Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster

Read time: 15 mins
Aerial view of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, after the oil train explosion and fires

The train engineer and two additional rail workers who faced charges for the deadly July 2013 oil train accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, were acquitted on Friday after the jury deliberated for nine days. If convicted of all charges, they potentially faced life in prison. 

The end of the trial of these three employees for their role in the Canadian oil train disaster that resulted in 47 deaths and the destruction of much of downtown Lac-Mégantic appears to have brought some closure to residents of the still-recovering town — although most are still waiting for justice.

As the trial began, the BBC reported the sentiments of Lac-Mégantic resident Jean Paradis, who lost three friends in the accident and thought the wrong people were on trial.

Trump Eyes Arctic Wildlife Refuge for Oil Drilling, Alarming Gwich’in

Read time: 7 mins
ANWR oil and gas caribou trump

In the remote north-eastern corner of Alaska, just under 20-million acres have been set aside as a federal protected area since 1960. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has recently come under threat, however, with President Donald Trump’s Department of the Interior proposing lifting restrictions on seismic exploration.

TransCanada Cancels Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Read time: 5 mins
TransCanada pipeline

Canadian pipeline company TransCanada announced today it will no longer be proceeding with its proposed Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline projects.

After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications,” said president and CEO Russ Girling in a statement released Thursday morning.

The $15.7 billion Energy East pipeline planned to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from western Canada’s oilsands to refineries in Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as an export terminal in New Brunswick.

Alaskans Push U.S. Government to Investigate B.C.’s Border Mines

Read time: 5 mins
Red Chris Mine by Garth Lenz|DeSmog Canada

Fish and wildlife in Alaska’s major watersheds are threatened by six British Columbia mines close to the Alaska border, according to a new petition that asks U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to investigate the threat of acid-mine drainage, heavy metals pollution and the possibility of catastrophic dam failure originating in the Canadian province.

The formal petition, organized by a coalition of Alaskan tribal governments and conservation groups, calls for the International Joint Commission to investigate threats from B.C. mines that will continue to hang over the watersheds for centuries after their closure.

It’s a very urgent issue and it’s important to a lot of people and their families,” Kenta Tsuda of Earthjustice, a signatory of the petition, told DeSmog Canada. “Their communities are at risk.”

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