Transition to Sustainable Economy

Japan shuts off nuclear power as thousands celebrate

Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the last of their nation's 50 nuclear reactors Saturday, waving banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.

Japan was without electricity from nuclear power for the first time in four decades when the reactor at Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido went offline for mandatory routine maintenance.

After last year's March 11 quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, no reactor halted for checkups has been restarted amid public worries about the safety of nuclear technology.

"Today is a historic day," Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered at a Tokyo park, some holding traditional "koinobori" carp-shaped banners for Children's Day that have become a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement.... Read more »

Cabinet to get final say on pipeline projects

The National Energy Board (NEB) will have to submit all future decisions on major pipeline projects to the federal cabinet for approval, according to a little-noticed change made in the government's economic action plan.

Currently, the NEB only has to submit projects it approves to cabinet. With this proposed change, the NEB will have to submit projects it doesn't approve to cabinet as well.

"The changes will ensure that both positive and negative NEB recommendations are presented to elected officials for information. The cabinet can request a more in-depth review by NEB and can also decide to go forward for approval," a source within the natural resources minister's office wrote to the CBC. The NEB answers to the minister.

On Tuesday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver revealed more details on the government's streamlining of the regulatory approval process for major resource development projects.... Read more »

Today, Canada is a less democratic country ...

Yesterday the federal government took away our right to participate in environmental assessments.  Today, Canada is a less democratic country. Big oil has more say about the future of Canada than you and I. I did a pile of media interviews yesterday but that's not enough. We have to wake up Canada's Parliament and alert them to what is happening.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to make a very big noise.

Your Member of Parliament (MP) is home in your riding this week. The Easter break following the budget is an important opportunity for them to gauge the mood of the country.... Read more »

Ottawa to slash environment review role

The federal government is reducing the number of departments and agencies that can do environmental reviews from 40 to just three to speed up approvals for projects that will bolster Canada's economy, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said today.

Expanding on plans announced in the March 29 budget, Oliver on Tuesday laid out the specifics of the Conservative government's major overhaul of environmental assessments, aimed at speeding up what the minister labelled a "duplicative, cumbersome and uncertain" process.

The moves are sure to please companies that have long complained of a lengthy, costly review process, citing previous major projects that have taken almost a decade to gain approval.

But the measures were immediately condemned by opposition MPs and environmental groups, which said the Harper government's push for "streamlining" was merely code for gutting Canada's environmental assessment process.... Read more »

North York Mirror editorial on bike lanes

Interesting commentary on the Mayor Ford maneuvers to get rid of bike lanes.

***

From the North York Mirror, April 12, 2012

by David Nickle

The bike lanes that Toronto City Council voted to put in on Jarvis Street are, as they stand, a very nice addition to the downtown core. If they go away at the end of the year, it will be a little bit sad for cyclists and a little bit happy for some drivers; but in the end, life in the city will persist. It will remain just so.

All right, I admit that is a pretty bland opening for a column about one of the bigger wedge issues of the very wedgy Rob Ford administration. But it is perhaps a necessary tonic to counteract the hysteria about the lines that the David Miller administration drew nearly all the way to Bloor Street.... Read more »

            

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