Environment Canada cuts enforcement, marine pollution and emergency budgets

Environment Canada is cutting its Compliance Promotion and Enforcement, marine pollution and emergency response budgets over the coming years, raising questions when cuts to other federal departments are added in, about just how the department can continue to operate, much less enforce the 209 conditions that the Joint Review Panel has laid down for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, not mention future projects connected with LNG and mining in the northwest.

Environment Canada and other departments suffered cuts in the 2014 budget. Now Environment Canada has posted its spending estimates on its website.

A table published on the site shows that Environment Canada spent $17,467,430 on compliance and enforcement in fiscal 2011 to2012; $16,695,292 in 2012 to2013. It estimates spending a little more in 2013 to 2014, $16,725,035; then comes a steady drop $15,821,926 for 2014 to 2015; $15,321,593 for 2015 to 2016 and $15,356,059 for 2016 to 2017.

According to organizational table on the spending estimates site, Marine Pollution and
Environmental Emergencies comes under the Substances and Waste Management division, with most of the department’s concentration on “substances management” and “effluent management.” Despite the probable growing threat to the environment from marine pollution and the possibility of a marine disaster from a tanker plying the northwest, the overall budget for Substances and Waste Management is also shrinking; from $83,291,322 in 2011 to 2012, $79,295,781 in 2012 to 2013. $76,209,841 for 2013 to 2014, $75,747,789 for 2014 to 2015 and $73,834,432 for 2015 to 2016.

The budget cuts take effect just as the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, if it gets a final go ahead and the LNG projects begin to come on stream.

Overall Environment Canada will spending from $1.01 billion in 2014 to 2015 to $698.8 million in 2016 to2017.

In addition, Environment Canada’s list of strategic priorities has absolutely no mention of either monitoring and enforcing pipeline conditions nor protecting the British Columbia coastline.

Plans for meeting the “Sustainable Environment” priority:

  • Improve and advance implementation of the Species at Risk program including by reducing the number of overdue recovery documents;
  • Pursue a collaborative approach to protect and conserve biodiversity at home and abroad, including by supporting the development of a National Conservation Plan and the maintenance and expansion of a network of protected areas;
  • Contribute to responsible resource development through the provision of science-based expert advice during environmental assessments;
  • Advance work through the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring;
  • Implement a comprehensive approach to protecting water and to ecosystem management;
  • Continue collaborative work with the provinces and territories on water quantity monitoring through the National Hydrometric Program; and,
  • Promote compliance with and enforce wildlife acts and regulations.

Another area where the budget has been cut is in climate change monitoring. It was those cuts that garnered the most reaction, from the mainstream media Toronto Star, Environment Canada braces for cuts to climate programs  to the environmental site, Desmog Canada, More than 1000 Jobs Lost, Climate Program Hit Hard in Coming Environment Canada Cuts.

The Star notes “Spending on the department’s climate change and clear air program is projected to decrease from $234.2 million this year to $54.8 million in 2016-17.”

On the site, Environment Canada notes

As is the case for all organizations, Environment Canada faces uncertainties in meeting its objectives. These uncertainties create opportunities and risks with potential to positively or negatively affect program results and outcomes. Uncertainties include those driven by external environmental factors, such as dependencies on partners and stakeholders, changing regulatory and legislative requirements, increasing Canadian and international expectations concerning the management of the environment and the continuously increasing pace of advances in science and technology.

Environment Canada gives itself an out, should the Conservative government suddenly be converted to environmental protection while on the road to the 2015 election. Since it notes

The 2015–16 decrease is explained by the reduction in funding for the SDTC Foundation and the sun setting of temporary funds. In 2016–17, the decrease in funding is explained by the sun setting of funding for temporary initiatives. Sun setting programs are subject to government decisions to extend, reduce, or enhance funding. Outcomes of such decisions would be reflected in the Department’s future Budget exercises and Estimates documents.

In other words, Environment Canada is becoming more dependent on partnerships with private companies and foundations to help provide funding for what the government should be doing and it is allowing for the politicians to introduce new temporary programs, probably just before the election, to make it look green.

Canadian scientists propose nine step program to save waterways and fish


John Richardson
Tomorrow’s clean water depends on nine guiding principles, says UBC Forestry Prof. John Richardson. (Martin Dee/UBC)

A group of biologists from across Canada have proposed a nine step program to sustain healthy waterways and fisheries not only in this country but around the world.

The key to clean waterways and sustainable fisheries is for the management plan to follow nine guiding principles of ecological water management, according to John Richardson, a professor in the Dept. of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia, one of 15 freshwater biologists who created the framework to help protect fish and ecosystems into the future.

Fish habitats need waterways that are rich in food with places to hide from predators and lay eggs, according to the framework published on January 31 in the journal Environmental Reviews.
“Fish are strongly impacted when nutrients, sediments or pollutants are added to their habitat. We cannot protect fish without maintaining a healthy freshwater ecosystem,” Richardson,who led the policy section on protecting fish habitats, said in a UBC news release. Other policy sections addressed areas such as climate change and biodiversity.

Read the complete paper on the Environmental Reviews site.

Humans have put key waterways at risk because of land development and the loss of the vegetation along rivers and streams, Richardson said, adding connecting waterways are also critical for healthy ecosystems. “If fish can’t get to breeding or rearing areas because of dams, culverts, water intakes or other changes to their habitats, then the population will not survive,” he said.

With more pressure on Canada’s waterways, Richardson and his colleagues wanted to create a framework of evidence-based principles that managers, policy makers and others could easily use in their work. “It’s a made in Canada solution, but the principles could be applied anywhere in the world,” he said.

The paper says:

Freshwater ecosystems are among the most imperiled on Earth with extinction rates of freshwater fauna higher than for many other ecosystems and vastly exceeding historic background rates/ Freshwater is vital to humans, and clean water is rapidly becoming a limiting resource for many societies. The greatest threat to freshwater ecosystems is the loss or alteration of freshwater habitats through human development yet our societies and economy depend directly on the services provided by healthy freshwater ecosystems.

It also notes:

Most ecosystem services of fishes are supported by a diverse fauna, not by merely the few species directly favoured by humans. Humans live side-by-side with fishes and other aquatic organisms in watersheds, and we derive our quality of life from the health of these ecosystems.

The paper, which was supported in part by federal government financing, only touches on the controversy over the gutting of the environmental protection for Canadian waterways by the Harper government. It goes on to stay that the protests are not enough and more is needed:

Recent changes to Canadian fisheries policies have motivated responses by the public and the scientific community yet a broad contemporary scientific assessment of what is required to manage freshwater fisheries resources is lacking. A template of the core ecological concepts underlying sound fisheries policies, based on the best available science will support policy and management decisions and the design of monitoring programs to evaluate the success of these actions.

With more pressure on Canada’s freshwater ecosystems, Richardson and his colleagues wanted to create a framework of evidence-based principles that managers, policy makers and others could easily use in their work. “It’s a made in Canada solution, but the principles could be applied anywhere in the world,” he says.

Healthy freshwater ecosystems are shrinking and reports suggest that the animals that depend on them are becoming endangered or extinct at higher rates than marine or terrestrial species, says Richardson. Humans also depend on these ecosystems for basic resources like clean drinking water and food as well as economic activity from the natural resource sector, tourism and more.

The components of a successful management plan include:

  • Protect and restore habitats for fisheries
  • Protect biodiversity as it enhances resilience and productivity
  • Identify threats to ecosystem productivity
  • Identify all contributions made by aquatic ecosystems
  • Implement ecosystem based-management of natural resources while acknowledging the impact of humans
  • Adopt a precautionary approach to management as we face uncertainty
  • Embrace adaptive management – environments continue to change so research needs to be ongoing for scientific evidence-based decision making
  • Define metrics that will indicate whether management plans are successful or failing
  • Engage and consult with stakeholders
  • Ensure that decision-makers have the capacity, legislation and authority to implement policies and management plans.

These recommendations are based on nine principles of ecology:

  • Acknowledge the physical and chemical limits of an ecosystem
  • Population dynamics are at work and there needs to be a minimum number of fish for the population to survive
  • Habitat quantity and quality are needed for fish productivity
  • Connecting habitats is essential for movement of fish and their resources
  • The success of freshwater species is influenced by the watershed
  • Biodiversity enhances ecosystem resilience and productivity
  • Global climate change affects local populations of fish
  • Human impacts to the habitat affect future generations of fish
  • Evolution is important to species survival

China Petroleum plans expansion in Canada: China Daily

Energy Link

CNPC plans steady overseas expansion

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country’s biggest energy company by production, said on Thursday that its overseas expansion will continue to focus on the upstream division with Canada and Australia as the major targets.

CNPC’s overseas oil and gas output is expected to reach 100 million tons of oil equivalent this year, of which equity-based production will account for 50 percent, according to Jiang Jiemin, the company’s general manager.

In 2010, the energy conglomerate’s overseas oil and gas output stood at 86.73 million tons.

“Our company’s foreign sales and profits will both hit a record high this year,” Jiang said. He added that CNPC plans to continue to rapidly and consistently expand overseas and that it regards Canadian and Australian assets as its top priorities because of the two countries’ abundant natural resources and steady investment environment.

Australia, Canada rivals in “new frontier” of liquified natural gas

Canada and Australia are rivals in the “new frontier” of liquified natural gas export sales to Asia, a panel of energy marketing executives told the National Energy Board Tuesday at hearings into the KM LNG in Kitimat.

The “marketing panel” testifying before the board included Kenny Patterson, Vice President LNG Marketing and Shipping for Apache Energy, Sean Bolks, Apache Director of Corporate Risk Management, Jamie Bowman, Vice President of Marketing for EOG and David Thorn,Vice President, Canadian marketing for Encana and two consultants.

Patterson told the NEB at more than one point during his testimony that Canada was the “new frontier” for liquified natural gas, and so was attracting a good deal of interest from countries across East Asia who need more natural gas supplies.

Patterson and the other executives on the panel refused to be specific on who the customers actually are, despite cross-examination from NEB counsel Parvez Khan and additional questions from the NEB presiding member Lynn Mercier.

Patterson said Apache couldn’t go into individual buyers, so Khan asked: “How many different buyers n a general sense?” to which Patterson replied that in Asia, the KM LNG partners, which include Apache, EOG and Encana, were general discussions with seven to eight major Asian LNG companies as well as other smaller players.

That answer came despite the fact that earlier in the day in Kuala Lumpur at the Asia Oil and Gas Conference, Mate’ Parentich, general manager of LNG marketing at Apache, said the company would soon conclude talks on the sale of 85 percent of liquefied natural gas from the Kitimat terminal.

Asked for specifics by Bloomberg News, a Houston based Apache spokesman Bill Mintz then said that no binding contracts had yet been signed for the Kitimat project.  

Bloomberg later moved a corrected and updated version of the story, including the statement that no contracts have yet been signed.

Khan asked about one Memorandum of Understanding signed with KM LNG. Again the panel refused to be specific. Bowman said the MOU had been signed with the previous partnership in KM LNG and while the MOU had not yet expired, it was subject to further negotiations. 

Khan and Mercier were both aware that any agreements with potential buyers were “subject to regulatory approval,” which, of course, is the National Energy Board’s role, but again they were unable to drag any specifics out of the executives on the marketing panel.

The panel members told the NEB members that Korea and Taiwan are already well established LNG markets and China was beginning to be more aggressive as an LNG buyer. Japan, which was devastated by the earthquake in March and lost of a lot nuclear powered electrical generation capacity is now scrambling to catch up with its Asian neighbors. The executives told the NEB panel that both Indonesia and Malaysia will also become more important buyers for LNG in the Canadian market as their domestic demand grows.

Noting that Patterson is based in Perth, Australia, Mercier asked the executives about the recent announcement by Shell that it would build a floating LNG platform off Australia.

Panel members replied that the Asian markets want long term, secure sources of supply, with multi-billion dollar contracts for between 10 and 20 years. As stable, market-driven countries with ample supplies of natural gas, both Canada and Australia could fulfill those needs, panel members said. Companies operating in both countries would require those multi-billion, multi-year contracts to justify the investment in natural gas extraction and transportation.

Jamie Bowman, Vice President of Marketing for EOG  listens as fellow panel members testify before the NEB. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)