Green Gazette - December 2006

Sierra Club of Canada's monthly electronic newsletter

What's Inside

NATIONAL

SCC IN THE NEWS

ATLANTIC CANADA CHAPTER

QUÉBEC CHAPTER /
SECTION DU QUÉBEC

ONTARIO CHAPTER

PRAIRIE CHAPTER

BRITISH COLUMBIA CHAPTER

SIERRA YOUTH COALITION

SUPPORTING SIERRA CLUB OF CANADA

SIERRA CLUB OF CANADA FOUNDATION

NATIONAL

Reject the Clean Air Act and Notice of Intent

clothespinThe Climate Action Network - Réseau action climat Canada is collecting public comments in response to the federal government’s Clean Air Act and Notice of Intent on a new website at www.CleanAirActStinks.ca. It is fast and easy. You can either send the comment already prepared or write your own. Send the link to your family, friends and contacts and create a link from your organization’s website. The formal comment period ends December 21, 2006 so don’t wait too long to respond to this fundamentally flawed, irresponsible approach to cleaning our air and protecting our climate!

Environment now a top priority for Canadians

Canadians are more concerned about the state of the environment than they have been at any point in the last 15 years, a new Ipsos Reid poll finds. Twenty-six percent of survey participants said the environment, more than any other issue, should receive the greatest attention of Canada's leaders. Health care came in second, with 24% of Canadians citing it as the most important issue. The survey also shows that 52% of Canadians are in favour of a special carbon tax to "increase the cost of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal for consumers and industry." British Columbia and Alberta were the two provinces most in support of a carbon tax. Among young people between the ages of 18 and 34, 64% support the idea.

Mackenzie Wild Update

Elizabeth May, former SCC executive director and Green Party of Canada leader, testified at the National Energy Board hearings for the Mackenzie Gas Project on December 1. Responding to questions posed by Government of Alberta lawyers, she testified that Alberta Premier Ralph Klein had stated at Harvard University last year that virtually all of the gas produced in the Mackenzie Valley would be needed to develop Alberta's tar sands.

The parallel hearings being conducted by the Joint Review Panel studying the MGP's environmental effects have been put on hold due to a Federal Court of Canada decision finding that the rights of the Dene Tha' First Nation to be consulted about the Mackenzie Gas Project have been violated. The delay in the hearings will continue at least until the court holds hearings to consider the final set of remedies to which the Dene Tha' are entitled. The traditional territory of the Dene Tha' includes northwest Alberta, and parts of southwestern Northwest Territories and northeastern British Columbia.

For more information on MackenzieWild go to www.mackenziewild.ca.

For regular email updates, sign up at www.sierraclub.ca/mailman/listinfo/scc-mgp.

New National Campaign Director

Jean LangloisSierra Club of Canada welcomes Mr. Jean Langlois to the position of National Campaign Director. Jean brings a unique blend of experience in campaigning, management, organizational leadership, and media relations in French and English. He has ten years professional experience in Canadian environmental organizations, and has served as a volunteer on a number of local organizations.

Jean integrates both national and regional perspectives, having served as national executive director of the Green Party of Canada and as the executive director of the Ottawa Valley Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

Jean holds a Master of Science degree in biology (landscape ecology) and is a graduate of the Executive Director Development Program of the Institute for Conservation Leadership. Jean describes himself as “a vegetarian bearded bicycling ecologist campaigner with management and organizational development skills.”

New National Water Campaigner

Sierra Club of Canada also welcomes Tim Morris to the position of water campaigner. He will be working out of the Ontario Chapter office primarily on Great Lakes water issues. He will assist the Ontario chapter and National office in developing their water program, which will include: working to ensure implementation of the Great Lakes Annex 2001 Sustainable Water Resources Agreement through collaboration with the Great Lakes Chapters of Sierra Club-US; assisting the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in developing effective water conservation and efficiency objectives; pushing for renewal of federal freshwater policy; and fund-raising for water campaigns.

Tim is a PhD student in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia. He received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Exeter, UK, and a Master of Laws from the University of British Columbia. He has been awarded a Water Policy Fellowship from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, a fellowship designed to connect university research with the environmental NGO community. Tim has partnered with the Canadian Institute of Environmental Law and Policy, with whom he co-authored a number of articles and policy reports relating to groundwater issues in the Great Lakes Basin.


SCC - IN THE NEWS

Clean-air bill 'smog, mirrors': Critics

Mainly public relations ploy, opposition says Bill contains no standards or reduction targets

By Peter Gorrie, Environment Writer
Toronto Star
October 20, 2006

OTTAWA—The federal government moved yesterday to give itself new powers to combat the pollution that causes climate change, smog and toxic indoor air.

But apart from a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about half by 2050, the proposed Clean Air Act contains no efficiency standards or reduction targets.

Instead, the legislation, which amends three existing laws, would set the stage for years of consultations and negotiations with industries and the provinces on what rules should eventually be imposed.

The announcement was the first step in the Conservative government's Green Plan, the alternative to the previous Liberal government's climate-change measures.

"Past governments relied on voluntary measures," Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said. "Those days are over. From now on, industry will face mandatory requirements, and we will enforce them."

It's a realistic plan that tells business the government "has a firm intention to regulate," but "allows business to take the time to make the right decisions," said Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

But critics said the proposed law merely delays action and appears to be a public relations ploy. The government already has all the powers it needs to regulate pollution, they said. And even the far-off target for 2050 is lower than the reduction scientists agree is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and that Europe and some American states have adopted.

"They're not going to do anything: This is a (law) for inaction," said John Bennett, of the Sierra Club of Canada. Industry and government have been consulting for years and know what to do, Bennett said. "To suggest that you have to consult once more ... is ludicrous."

Years of meetings "are all thrown away," said Matthew Bramley, of the Pembina Institute. "We start from scratch."

"Instead of using existing legislation and acting immediately, the Conservatives have delivered vague promises to regulate polluters sometime in the coming decades," said Hugh Wilkins, a lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The Conservatives "are proposing that greenhouse gas emissions should be allowed to continue to rise for the next 20 years."

"It's all smog and mirrors," said Liberal environment critic John Godfrey. "It's simply confusing people. The signal to industry is, relax ... we're on your side."

It's not clear the House of Commons will vote on the legislation before an election is called. And critics suggested that's what it's all about.

"The intent of this action is to get the ... Conservatives through a federal election by being able to claim that they've done something for the environment, and instead what they've produced is consultations leading to potential regulations leading to no action on climate," said Green party leader Elizabeth May.

All the opposition parties said they would vote against the legislation.

The plan would attack the air pollution that creates smog, which kills an estimated 5,800 people in Ontario each year, and greenhouse gases, which are causing climate change.

Smog pollutants would face fixed caps from the start. Greenhouse gas targets, on the other hand, would be "intensity-based" — allowed to rise as production increases — in the 2010-2015 and 2020-2025 periods. Only in the long term, 2050, would fixed caps be imposed.

Consultations are to begin this fall, with national short-term targets to be set by spring, followed by negotiations on limits for individual industries and products. Final regulations are to be in place by the end of 2010. Some would come into effect then; others, "as soon as possible" after that date. Medium- and long-term standards and targets would be set later.

However, as a small, quick first step, regulations are to be imposed during the next 12 months on minor sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including snowmobiles, jet skis, motorcycles, and off-road diesel engines. Rules will also be established for a few products, such as paint and car finishes, that produce smog or impair indoor air quality. Ambrose defended the lengthy consultations and long wait for targets. Industries need time to develop the technology required to meet targets, she said. "This doesn't happen at the flip of a switch."

Fuel consumption standards for cars will match those in the United States — although not the stringent regulations imposed by California. Any new rules won't come into effect until the 2011 model year, after the current five-year voluntary agreement with the auto industry expires.


ATLANTIC CANADA CHAPTER

Pipeline hearing begins in New Brunswick

The National Energy Board opened a pipeline hearing in New Brunswick. People are concerned that the board will not seriously consider their objections and that the process is designed to serve the needs of large corporations rather than individual concerned citizens.

The energy board is reviewing an application from Brunswick Pipeline, a subsidiary of Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc., to construct a high-speed, high-pressure pipeline to carry natural gas from Saint John, N.B., to the northeastern United States.

The alternative is a water route for the pipeline, which would nearly double the cost of the $350 million project.

Approximately 15,000 Saint John residents signed a petition opposing the pipeline route, which passes through the city's large wilderness park. It is the only natural gas pipeline that runs through a Canadian city at the high pressure necessary for this export line. While the chance of a line break is low, the pressure would ignite and blow it up putting thousands of people at risk.

The National Energy Board says people are entitled to participate in the hearings if they want to, and that the process will be extended beyond the scheduled 13 days if need be to accommodate them.


QUÉBEC CHAPTER / SECTION DU QUÉBEC

Quebec Chapter Meeting

Photo: À la réunion de novembre, Kathryn Malloy, Directrice générale de la section de la Colombie-Britannique et Mickaël Carlier de Novae.ca se sont joints à l'équipe de direction et les membres présents.

Photo: At the November meeting, Kathryn Malloy, Executive Director Sierra Club of Canada-BC Chapter and Mickaël Carlier from Novae.ca joined the Ex-Com and some members.

Réunion et repas festif / Executive Committee meeting and Holiday meal

Tous les membres sont les bienvenus à notre réunion et repas festif. Jeudi le 14 décembre, 1291 rue Cartier à 17h30. Invité : Jean Langlois, nouveau chef de campagne au national. Nous discuterons de notre plan stratégique 2007. Vers 19 h, nous irons partager un repas des fêtes au restaurant.

All members are welcome to our meeting and holiday meal. Thursday December 14 at 1291 Cartier St. from 5:30 pm. Guest: Jean Langlois, new Campaign Director at the national office. We will discuss next year’s strategic plan 2007. The meal will be at a restaurant at 7pm.

Groupe Hog

Nous sommes fier d’avoir 43 membres, dont 30 nouveaux au Groupe Hog qui s’oppose aux mégaporcheries. Des rencontres sont prévues en décembre avec des regroupements de citoyens sympathisants dans le cadre du développement de notre stratégie de campagne.

We are thrilled that 43 members, including 30 new ones have joined our Groupe Hog to oppose Industrial Hog Farming. We will meet supporting citizen groups to develop our campaign strategy.

Programme scolaire sur les changements climatiques / School program on climate change

• Création d’un Comité ERE (éducation relative à l’environnement)
• UNESCO a déclaré 2005-2015 la décennie de l’Éducation environnementale pour le développement durable et nous y participons.
• Comité de travail pour mettre sur pied des programmes scolaires axés sur les changements climatiques
• Nous avons l’appui de collaborateurs venant d’autres groupes, la section de la Colombie-Britannique, les Écoles vertes Brundtland et des programmes d’action communautaires

• We created an ERE (Environmental Related Education) Steering committee
• UNESCO declared 2005-2015 to be the decade of
Environmental Education for sustainable development , and we are doing our share
• We received support from other groups : SCC-BC school program, Brundtland Schools and a Community-Action program.

Bénévoles / Volunteering

Venez nous donner un coup de main, il suffit de quelques heures par mois et vous en tirerez une expérience très enrichissante. Communiquez avec claudem@sierraclub.ca ou au (514) 651-5847 (laissez un message).

If you wish to help us out, please contact Claude Martel, at claudem@sierraclub.ca or by phone at (514) 651-5847 (leave a message). A few hours of your time can make a difference.


ONTARIO CHAPTER

Volunteers needed in Toronto!

The Ontario Chapter is gearing up for several environmental campaign actions in and around the city of Toronto. We need your help as volunteers to ensure their success. Call the office at 416-960-9606 or email ontariochapter@sierraclub.ca if you would like to get involved.


PRAIRIE CHAPTER

Public Forums on the Value of Alberta Parks are a Success

Spearheaded and co-hosted by Sierra Club of Canada, the public information forums held in late October in Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek – Looking Ahead to Parks’ 75th Anniversary: the Value of Parks to Neighboring Communities – were well attended by a broad spectrum of area residents and decision makers. The forums and associated news coverage spurred ongoing community discussion about parks; in particular the Andy Russell-I’tai sah kòp Park proposed for the Castle wilderness located just north of Waterton Lakes National Park.

The very informative hand-outs from the three speakers are at www.sierraclub.ca/wilderness. This includes economist Jim Johnson’s What Attracts Wealth to Rural and Small Communities? and The Value of Parks pamphlet from Scott Jones, Alberta Community Development (the department responsible for parks). Also, from the recent executive director of the Jackson Hole Wyoming Chamber of Commerce, Steve Duerr, are his speaking notes, the article Teton County Extremes and the Chamber’s brand promise Respecting the Power of Place. For more on what his community is doing to sustain their social and environmental wellbeing see www.sustainingjacksonhole.org.

Ministers Make Progress on Andy Russell-I’tai sah kòp Provincial Park

Even though the Alberta Government is in the doldrums between outgoing Premier Klein and the PC Party’s Nov. 25th vote on their new leader (hence the new premier), the proposed park is moving forward. The Prairie Post newspaper has just reported that the Sustainable Resource Development Minister, David Coutts, who is currently responsible for the lands of the proposed park and the local MLA, has referred the park proposal to the Minister Responsible for Parks, Denis Ducharme.

Coutts said, “I’ve advised the Minister that if there was consideration (for a park) there would need to be full consultation with all affected users of the area as well as the municipality (the MD of Pincher Creek).” Such consultation is a normal part of park establishment in Alberta.

This news report was on the heels of a very productive meeting of proponents for the park, including Sierra Club of Canada and area residents, with Ducharme and a representative of Coutts’ department. Both ministers also toured the proposed park by air this past summer. Opposition is coming from off-road vehicle users who are concerned their recreation will be restricted in the park. On the other hand, Ducharme noted the value of the proposed park for protecting the primary water supply for southern Alberta.

2006 Protected Areas Grade Disappointing
Poplar River Park Reserve Waiting for Permanent Protection

Manitoba received a ‘D’ from Manitoba Wildlands in this year’s annual Protected Areas Grade. The Manitoba Government’s failure to date to permanently protect the Poplar/Nanowin Rivers Park Reserve was a significant factor in driving down the 2006 Grade. As Manitoba Wildlands director Gaile Whelan Enns said, “It is particularly worrisome to see no action on permanent protection of the Poplar/Nanowin Rivers Park Reserve.”

Manitoba's government has been graded on protected areas actions each year for 15 years. The grade is based on the government's commitments, methods, data, and regulations, and uses the same criteria each year. This year the Protected Areas Audit was also released in conjunction with the annual grade on November 9, 2006 (see manitobawildlands.org/pa_grades.htm).

Poplar River First Nation (PRFN) first nominated approximately 800,000 hectares of its traditional lands for protection from development in 1998. Since the spring of 1999, the area has been protected on interim basis under a Parks Act regulation, which allowed the community to undertake research projects and a process that resulted in the completion of the Asatiwisipe Aki Lands Management Plan in fall 2005 (www.poplarriverfirstnation.ca/poplar_river_land.htm). Following the presentation of the lands plan to the Manitoba Government, Poplar River made a formal request in March 2006 for permanent protection of their lands. Despite repeated indications of support for PRFN’s request from the Minister of Conservation and several more letters, the First Nation finds they are no further ahead with their request.

Sophia Rabliauskas of PRFN expressed her frustration with the current situation, “We have waited long enough for the government to act on our request for permanent protection of our traditional territory. We as a First Nation have worked for years to establish a Lands Management Plan; we met and exceeded every criterion the government imposed on us and yet they continue to ignore our efforts to achieve protection and management of our traditional lands.”

Poplar River’s vision and plan for its traditional lands is supported in the US by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which also works in partnership with Manitoba Wildlands. “The Poplar/Nanowin River Park Reserve is an irreplaceable part of the world's unspoiled, intact boreal forest ecosystem,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of NRDC Canada Program. “The international community cannot understand why Manitoba delays in keeping its commitment to permanently protect this region.”

The NRDC’ BioGems campaign includes Poplar River’s lands within its ‘Heart of the Boreal Forest’ BioGem. The current ‘Take Action’ opportunity for BioGems supporters is an appeal to the Manitoba Government to act on its commitment to permanently protect the Poplar/Nanowin River Park Reserve (www.savebiogems.org/boreal/).

These boreal lands in the region on the east side of Lake Winnipeg are an ecological gem which Poplar River First Nation plans to keep intact. They will also be the first lands protected for the future World Heritage Site, nominated by neighbouring First Nations east of Lake Winnipeg. To see the listing of Manitoba government commitments to the World Heritage Site, and further information to go manitobawildlands.org/lup_whs.htm.


BC CHAPTER

Treating Waste as a Resource: Sewage Forums

Jean LangloisVictoria’s “dirty secret”, the dumping of untreated sewage into the Strait of Georgia finally got the comeuppance it deserved this fall when the Ministry of the Environment directed the Capital Regional District (CRD) to implement sewage treatment. If you think this is a perfect opportunity for citizens to push for the greenest possible solution, we agree! Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter helped organize a series of five forums in CRD municipalities to present sewage treatment options that have been tested around the world.

A really cool option is Resource Recovery, which encompasses technologies that allow the extraction of energy, water and other useful materials from waste. For example, treatment plants in Goteborg, Sweden earn revenue from sales of heat and biogas. And Washington State has installed fuel cells which convert waste into enough electricity for 1,000 homes.

Best of all, converting sewage and sludge to biofuels would cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 33,000 tonnes annually!


SIERRA YOUTH COALITION

The Sustainable High Schools Project – Pilot in BC

This spring, Sierra Youth Coalition Victoria hosted the Sustainable High Schools Symposium as a part of their Dreamseed Community Action Gathering, bringing together over 25 extremely active high school students and teachers for two days of consultation towards the plan and framework of the Sustainable High Schools Project.

Nik Parent is working with Sustainable Campuses staff to run a pilot project at his high school in Ontario, while Emily Menzies, former BC Coordinator of SYC’s Community Youth Action Project, is developing a pilot project here in BC in partnership with the wonderful folks at the Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter’s Education Program.

The Sustainable High Schools Project will enable high school students to engage their peers, teachers, administrators, parents, and other school staff in envisioning, assessing and working together to improve the level of sustainability at their school. We will empower students with the skills, tools, and resources to lead successful high school initiatives that will generate greater social equity, ecological integrity and economic accountability through classroom projects, policy creation, and infrastructure upgrades. These youth will form regional, provincial and national networks of schools sharing tips, success stories and lessons learned while working to make their schools models of just and sustainable communities.

In. BC, we have been working diligently to create a SHS Youth Steering Committee, composed of students who are active, experienced leaders in making their schools more sustainable and committed to directing the SHS BC pilot project. We have been putting together a flexible 3-stream program which will allow youth, teachers and schools the choice to get involved at whichever level they are ready to: either in using the Sustainable High Schools Kit to guide them taking on a sustainability initiative, hosting an interactive classroom workshop from SHS project staff to calculate one of the indicators, or in mobilizing their entire school for sustainability!

This third stream supports active student clubs in creating a Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee at their school: a diverse, representative body composed of the various groups of people that make a high school community function and flourish. This committee will work together to identify and understand how their school community is (and isn’t!) meeting the needs of its members, as well as potentially compromising the ability of future generations of students and staff to meet their needs as well. They will be building inter-generational and inter-sectoral relationships while sharing their different ideas, perspectives and expertise on how to then create projects to improve the most unsustainable aspects of their school community.

The schools engaged in this deeper level of the project will evaluate the pilot project, making suggestions for the future of the project and will be supported in ensuring peer mentorship and transitional leadership of the project through setting up their Multi-stakeholder Committees for next year.

We are rolling out curriculum-linked classroom presentations, multi-stakeholder meetings, the Sustainable High Schools Kit and youth co-facilitation trainings in January 2007. Stay tuned at www.sierrayouth.info and at www.sierraclub.ca/bc/programs/education. For more info or to get involved, contact Emily Menzies at emily@sierraclub.bc.ca.


SUPPORTING SIERRA CLUB OF CANADA

Calendars Now Available

Sierra Club 2007 Wall and Engagement Calendars are now available through your chapter office. They make a great Christmas gift while supporting your chapter. Please contact your chapter for more information. The Sierra Club of Canada National Office has a limited supply of Sierra Club 2007 Engagement Calendars.
Order by calling 1-888-810-4204.

Give a gift that lasts a lifetime and beyond...

This holiday season consider giving your loved one a gift donation or year-long membership to Sierra Club of Canada to support our important work to protect our global ecosystems for generations to come. We'll acknowledge your thoughtfulness with a letter of thanks, and a cheery holiday greeting card to the recipient.
Visit getinvolved.sierraclub.ca/join.php to download the form.

To make a tax-receiptable donation in the name of a loved one to the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation, visit www.sierraclub.ca/foundation/donate. Or call us! 1-888-810-4204

Thanks for your support!


SIERRA CLUB OF CANADA FOUNDATION

One more way to support the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation

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This means you can support the Sierra Club while receiving professional hosting services at great rates. It’s a donation that doesn’t cost you anything extra. Visit their website at www.ecohosting.com or call toll free 1-866-235-2828 or (514) 990-0420 for more information and a complete description of their hosting packages and prices.

Remember, the more people know about this opportunity, the more support for the Sierra Club, so tell all your friends!

Eligible charitable organizations receive a 30% discount on hosting services.

Carbon-Friendly Colleagues

From biodiesel school buses to wind-powered computers, Sierra Club of Canada supporters are taking action to save our climate.
Planet Organic Markets, a natural products company that partnered with Sierra Club of Canada in 2006, has struck an “Eco Karma Committee” to search for ways to help the environment. So far, among other initiatives, the energetic committee has arranged for the purchase of wind power to run 50 company computers, including all cashier tills.

The committee is also searching for environmentally superior products to clean supermarkets and eco-friendly deli containers. “We’re testing out new pagoda containers, which are made from managed trees and can be composed,” said Planet Organic founder Diane Shaskin.

Planet Organic’s wind power purchase, from the Pembina Institute, reduces the company’s annual CO2 emissions by 24 tonnes—the equivalent of taking 20 cars off the road for an entire year.



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