I had originally intended to write this column about my trip to Washington, DC on February 7-8, when I met with United States Senators and Congresspersons about climate and the Keystone XL pipeline. In brief, the trip was very successful in making links with strong proponents of climate action. Things are moving. The US General Accountability Office had decided that as a threat to federal government finances, climate change is now classed ‘high risk’.
Ahead of their meeting in Halifax, the country's Premiers are being urged to come up with an energy plan for Canadians and not just an energy strategy for Canada.
John Bennett with the environmental group The Sierra Club of Canada says before we worry about expanding our energy export business, we need to address our domestic energy use.
"Doesn't charity start at home?" muses Bennett. "Shouldn't it be everyone's first priority to make sure that we meet our own needs and we do it in a way which is sustainable and acceptable? And then we talk about, well if we have excess then let's ship the excess somewhere else. They're not talking about how Canadians can meet their energy needs, and how we can do it sustainably and environmentally favourably."
Bennett adds a national energy strategy should also include the element of energy usage and efficiency.
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to the Far North next week, with his annual trek focusing on the Western Arctic and developing the region's natural resources.
The five-day north of 60 trip gears up in Whitehorse Monday, with stops at copper and gold mine Minto Mine and Norman Wells, an oil drilling and exploration hub, in the Northwest Territories.
The prime minister then heads to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where two years ago he announced a new $81 million high Arctic research station would be built in the hamlet perched on the Victoria Island coast in the Arctic archipelago.
The tour wraps in Churchill, Man., where Harper is to take part in Operation Nanook, alongside 1,250 navy, army and air force personnel for an annual northern sovereignty exercise.
Harper has spent a week every summer in the Arctic since he became prime minister, an annual trip meant to assert Canada's presence in the region.
Local environmental organizations say a decision by Queen's Park to enhance its plan to protect the environment will be a boon for the Credit River.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today that the Province is expanding its Greenbelt Plan and adding provincially owned lands in Oakville to grow the greenbelt to nearly two million acres of protected land across the Golden Horseshoe.
The greenbelt stretches about 325 kilometres from Rice Lake, near Peterborough, to the Niagara River and was created to protect environmentally sensitive lands from urban development and sprawl.
Sneaky suburban invader? Pesky predator? Mangy mutt? Wile E. Coyote?
Are any of these the taglines that come to mind when you think of the Canis latrans? Many people are familiar with this clever wild canine; however, there are many misconceptions out there that give these creatures a bad name. I hope that this small article will help bring coyotes out of the shifty shadows of misunderstanding and into the light of respect.
The Fast Facts:
Size: length, 120-150 cm; tail, 40 cm; height, 50-66 cm
SASKATOON - Coal-fired power plants got more regulatory breathing room than expected to release greenhouse gases Wednesday, something federal Environment Minister Peter Kent says is necessary to protect Canada's power supply.
The final regulations for coal-powered plants, released Wednesday, stipulate they can emit no more than 420 tonnes of greenhouse gases per gigawatt hour of electricity generated.
This number is significantly higher than the 375 tonnes per gigawatt hour Kent proposed in earlier draft regulations released in August.
While admitting the new rules are "at the high end" of the 360 to 425 tonne per gigawatt hour range he considered, Kent said the decision was made to avoid putting the "consuming public at risk of inadequate power supply."
Research is questioning the logic behind the federal government's move to streamline environmental assessments.
After tracking thousands of assessments over a decade, the peer-reviewed findings of Derrick de Kerckhove suggest a great majority of Fisheries Act environmental reviews over the last decade were completed well within recommended timelines.
Nor was there a bottleneck of projects being held up by a clogged review process, he said.
"We didn't find any. Even when the input was high, it seemed to be handled very well."
De Kerckhove, a University of Toronto PhD candidate, analyzed 10 years worth of data from Department of Fisheries and Oceans annual reports on the progress of environmental assessments triggered under the Fisheries Act. That legislation generates more such reviews than almost any other — anywhere from 7,700 to more than 12,000 in a single year.
Pressure is mounting on the U.S. and Canadian governments to explore ways to restore water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron that have been lowered nearly two feet due to historic dredging on the St. Clair River. The two lakes, which are actually one body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac, have been below their long-term average for more than a decade, and forecasters say in the coming months they could plunge below their record low.
Now an organization of 90 mayors representing more than 15 million residents in cities across the Great Lakes region is telling the International Joint Commission that it is "dissatisfied" with a recent study that determined restoring lake levels by installing some type of structure to repair damage done to the St. Clair River would be a costly project that could take decades and ultimately do more harm than good.
Niagara Region is getting an early start on consultations and input into the scheduled 2015 provincial review of the Greenbelt Plan. The Region’s, “Getting Ahead of the Provincial Review of the Greenbelt Plan – Strategy to Develop a made in Niagara Perspective”, outreach program is now underway. Sierra Club Ontario attended yesterday’s environmental focus group. A public meeting on the Greenbelt Plan takes place this evening at Balls Falls Conservation Centre.
The Greenbelt’s land-use policies protect environmental and agricultural lands from urban development and preserve the vibrant character of local towns and villages.