8 April 2010 (Edmonton) — An information request has forced the Alberta government to reveal that in addition to the infamous dead ducks, 164 animals, including 27 bears, were killed between 2000 and 2008 on operations in the Alberta tar sands.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request was filed by independent scientist Kevin Timoney and sought material from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD). The disclosed SRD information covers only three oil companies and shows reported deaths of 27 black bears, 67 deer, 31 red fox, 21 coyote, as well as moose, muskrats, beavers, voles, martens, wolves, and bats.
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The Harper government is rewriting the rules of environmental assessments, handing the Environment Ministry the power to minimize reviews of projects from open-pit mines to municipal construction along with other changes that critics claim will “gut” the environmental review process.
Suggestions of change to the environmental review regime were contained in the March federal budget, but the extent of the changes came to light with the release of the bill that implements financial aspects of the government’s new economic measures. Placing the reforms inside a budget bill forces the opposition parties to either accept them or bring down the minority government.
Now, with the federal government stepping aside from many assessments, a larger number will be left in provincial hands.... Read more »
OTTAWA - Environmental groups and opposition politicians say the federal Conservatives are trying to gut environmental assessment laws by sneaking in new rules in budget legislation.
"This is a big step backward about 20 years," John Bennett of the Sierra Club said Wednesday.
Budget legislation introduced in the House this week would give the environment minister the power to divide a large project up into smaller components for the purpose of studying its environmental impact.
"The minister may ... determine that the scope of the project in relation to which an environmental assessment is to be conducted is limited to one or more components of that project," says the legislation.... Read more »
OTTAWA--The federal government is afraid to deal with the environment honestly and in the open. The budget implementation bill introduced Monday contains changes to the Environmental Assessment Act that have nothing to do with the 2010 budget. The changes fly in the face of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Red Chris mine and validate Sierra Club Canada’s decision to challenge the regulatory changes made in last year’s budget.
"If these changes are just, then why not deal with them on their own instead of using an election threat to steal environmental protection from Canadians," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.
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Reporters squeezed into the public gallery for the start of a trial, which was expected to give the practices of the Alberta oilsands industry their closest scrutiny in years.
Oilsands giant Syncrude faced federal and provincial charges for the deaths of 1,606 ducks, which perished after landing on the toxic tailings lake at the company's Aurora mine, about 75 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, on April 28, 2008.
The incident made headlines around the world. Now, nearly two years' later, a trial is underway to determine if Syncrude was culpable in failing to prevent the birds' deaths.... Read more »