Ecoholic roundup: the best and worst in eco news

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Carbon bombs going off

It’s been a rough fall for anyone that gives a shit about whether Canada is undermining action on climate change through approvals of large “carbon bombs” like BC’s $36 billion liquefied natural gas project. On Monday, 99 people protesting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion pans were detained by police on Parliament Hill. And south of the border, nearly 100 people have been arrested protesting the Dakota Access pipeline. But, hey, while the planet may be the hottest it’s been in 115,000 years, at least we just joined over 70 other countries in ratifying the Paris climate treaty, whose greenhouse gas emission targets we will probably never reach. Still, the planet was able to agree to do something, which is way faster than the eight years it took to ratify Kyoto. Meanwhile, green energy has climbed from two per cent to 11 per cent of Canada’s grid over the last decade. #renewablesrising.  

At least Monsanto shareholders are happy

The business press is patting agri-chemical giant Monsanto on the back for unexpected fourth quarter profits, after a second straight year of losses. But even the losses had a silver lining: they reportedly drove the GMO-giant into the open arms of Bayer in last month’s $66 billion merger, which is promising to spiff up Monsanto’s soiled rep as arguably the most despised corporation on the planet. No doubt. Bayer knows a thing or two about keeping its image clean. Best known as the granddaddy of aspirin, the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant used to be a mass purveyor of biological weapons and is currently producing several varieties of bee-harming neonicotinoids as well as and genetically modified rice, cotton and soy.       

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Nuclear safety fail X 2

You don’t have to watch reruns of Homer Simpson falling asleep while manning Springfield’s fictional nuclear plant to get antsy about nuclear safety. Just read federal enviro commish Julie Gelfand’s new report on the nuke industry watchdog Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Her conclusions in a nutshell: Jesus. The CNSC couldn’t even demonstrate that they had enough staff to monitor Canada’s four nuke plants. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Two days later, word emerged that Ontario is planning an unprecedented series of shipments of highly radioactive liquid waste – some 100 to 150 truckloads – from its Bruce nuclear facility to South Carolina along public roads. It’s purportedly all part of American plans to “repatriate” US-sourced weapons grade uranium. 

Fish fry: more worrying news from Canada’s enviro watchdog

After years of deep gutting by the Harper government, maybe it’s no surprise that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) had no plans to rebuild 12 major Canadian fishing stocks considered at risk of collapse. But turns out the department wasn’t even aware just how bad a scene until Gelfand’s audit. Since claiming ignorance is no longer an option, maybe DFO will put the 135 scientists it recently hired on the case.  

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Bird’s eye view of the oil sands

Meanwhile, further inland Ecojustice, Greenpeace and Alberta Wilderness Association are calling for an investigation of the feds’ failure to protect hundreds of thousands of birds from landing on toxic Alberta tailings ponds. An estimated 5,000 die after landing on oil sands ponds every year. According to Ecojustice lawyer Melissa Gorrie,  “Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the federal government has the power to hold tar sands operators responsible for these impacts to migratory birds.” Now would be a good time to start. 

Couch surfing just got less dodgy for your health

If, like the majority of the nation, you enjoy the comforts of padded furniture and electronics, you’re in for a health boost. Our dust bunnies should contain one less persistent chem. New federal regs will toughen restrictions on toxic flame retardants and suspected neurotoxin decaBDE in stuff like plastic cords, curtains and couch stuffing. It’s the last of the dodgy PBDE family of toxins Canada is finally tackling. The only hitch: imports will still be allowed to contain the stuff. Good thing European imports are already PBDE-free and we have a handful of local furniture and makers to choose from, including Toronto-based 408 Design, Style Garage and Manitoba-made EQ3 that don’t stuff their couches with any flame retardants at all.   

ecoholic@nowtoronto.com | @ecoholicnation

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