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You have to wonder how oil executives sleep at night. Two recent media stories clearly show that Big Oil is willing to sacrifice the health of Canadians, the lives of the global poor, and the future of their children and the planet, as long as they can sell more oil.

Industrial pipe discharging tailings waste

The most recent story is the revelation that an oil company lobby group undertook a stealth campaign to weaken fuel efficiency standards for vehicles sold in the U.S. Research has shown that improving the efficiency of vehicles is a win-win-win-win. When cars burn less gas, our air is cleaner, our children and families are healthier, motorists have more money in their pockets, and that extra money is spent in the local economy.

But that’s not good enough for greedy oil executives. Why? Well, more efficient vehicles mean lower profits for their companies.

And of course, this kind of campaign has to be secret. After all, oil executives know that it’s not a good look to screw over citizens and the planet to improve their bottom line. It’s the kind of cartoonish evil that has invited ridicule in the past.

Another story that would be hilarious if it wasn’t infuriating is Canada’s oil industry’s demands to the next Alberta government. Some of them are boilerplate corporate wishes: more subsidies, lower taxes, fewer regulations. Sure, it was coming from Canadian oil companies that made $46 billion in gross profits in 2017, but no one is surprised by corporate greed.

It was the rest of the oil lobby’s demands that made me wonder if this was satire. Oil and gas companies want six more oil pipelines and four major liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

Was I reading that correctly? Was that really oil executives’ wish list, or did they get punked? And yet, there they were, five guys in expensive suits presenting a plan that would screw over the world and a significant portion of its species. Call it the Top 10 ways they’re going to fry the planet…couched of course in an argument about jobs (despite oil companies doing everything they can to eliminate the workforce.)

Heads of five oil industry associations: Chris Bloomer, Tristan Goodman, Tim McMillan, Gary Mar, and Mark Scholz. Photo credit: www.context.capp.ca

Because let’s be clear—every Canadian will be worse off in a world that builds massive sources of pollution as envisioned by this energy plan. Well, except maybe for oil executives living in gated communities so they can ignore the suffering they’re imposing on ordinary citizens.

The Wilderness Committee represented best the insanity of the oil lobby’s plans:

Hyperbole, for sure. But how else can we match the unintended satire coming from oil executives?

Let’s not be fooled into thinking this is just American companies following President Trump’s lead. Canada’s largest oil producer and oil sands company, Suncor, is involved in both agendas as a corporate member of these oil associations.

These campaigns, both secret and public, put the lie to Suncor and the entire oil sands industry’s attempts to rehabilitate their environmental image. Given that Suncor and other oil companies have not unequivocally distanced themselves from these dangerous positions, the only conclusion that Canadians should come to is that oil companies on both sides of the border are willing to sacrifice a safe future in the interest of increasing their billion dollar profits.

The post Oil companies don’t care about you or the planet appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE and CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION

For immediate Release, February 14, 2019

Regina, Sask. and Toronto, Ont.

WHAT: Representatives from the Canadian Environmental Law Association will argue before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal that the federal carbon pricing backstop is constitutional. Representatives from CELA and Environmental Defence are available for comment.

WHEN: CELA are expected to appear at approximately 2 pm (CST). CELA is available for comment after court adjourns. Environmental Defence staff are available in Toronto.

WHERE:       CELA available in Regina at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Environmental Defence available in Toronto, location flexible.

WHO:

Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, Canadian Environmental Law Association

Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and Environmental Defence will make their arguments today before Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal regarding the Reference on the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. CELA and Environmental Defence will ask the Court to consider the criminal law power and trade and commerce power as sources of federal authority to pass a carbon pricing law. They argue that both the federal and provincial governments have authority to pass carbon pricing legislation and other climate change measures.

Climate change is a global crisis. Canada and its provinces must each play their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a clean energy economy. A nation-wide carbon price will create economic incentives for carbon emission reductions and provide economic incentives for a transition to a cleaner energy system.

About the CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION: CELA works toward protecting public health and the environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution or poor decision-making and by changing policies to prevent problems in the first place. Since 1970, CELA has used legal tools, undertaken groundbreaking research and advocated for increased environmental protection and to safeguard communities.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Theresa McClenaghan, Canadian Environmental Law Association, theresa@cela.ca

Barbara Hayes, Environmental Defence, bhayes@environmentaldefence.ca, 613-255-5724

The post Media Advisory: Environmental Advocates to make their arguments in Saskatchewan’s challenge of the federal carbon pricing backstop appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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The world is facing a biodiversity crisis. The extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate. Literally dozens of species are estimated to go extinct every day. And now the Ontario government appears to be moving to weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA), on its 10 year anniversary.

The government is reviewing the Act, looking for “efficiencies for business”, which doesn’t sound good, given endangered species’ habitat already so threatened in Ontario. The ESA has already seen major changes over the last few years that make it easier for business to put species closer to the brink of extinction. A legislative review might not be such a bad idea, but only one which actually aims to put endangered species first.

After all, it’s the Endangered Species Act, not the Endangered Business Act.

Caribou in Ontario, specifically the boreal population, is listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. A strong start for Ontario’s at-risk species

In 2007, a new and improved ESA was celebrated as the strongest species protecting law Canada had ever seen. The new law took a science-based approach, requiring recovery plans for endangered species and automatic protection of their sensitive habitats. At the same time, it offered flexibility to land owners and developers to, under certain conditions, apply for permits for work that could harm species-at-risk or their habitat.

But the ESA has only gone downhill from there.  In 2013, for example, a suite of exemptions introduced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) severely undermined the intentions of the law to protect and recover species at risk in Ontario. MNRF essentially changed the permit system so that a developer only has to minimize harm as opposed to eliminate or compensate for it. Sweeping exemptions for certain industries such as forestry has also increased risk for species like Ontario’s threatened boreal caribou.

Why we can’t afford to keep undermining the ESA

The 2017 annual report by the Environment Commissioner of Ontario was highly critical of the MNRFs failure to properly implement the ESA, and it’s easy to see why.  Their failure to fulfill its promise has resulted in more species becoming at risk, or their situation becoming more critical. Species are more likely to become more endangered over time than they are to recover.

The piping plover is classified as “Endangered” and there were only 8 nesting pairs in Ontario in 2018. What to expect from the Government review

The government launched their 10 year review of the ESA under the premise of promoting “positive outcomes for species,” despite also apparently wishing to see “efficiencies for business.” Worryingly, the language in the accompanying discussion paper points to a red-tape cutting agenda that could put species at further risk.

If the past 10 years of flimsy ESA implementation and diminishing species numbers should teach us anything, it’s that we need to be way more strict and selective about the projects that are permitted to threaten species or damage habitat.

The government has launched a public consultation period, which is open until March 4th. However, many of the questions they raise are pointed in the wrong direction. For example, the discussion paper proposes giving the Minister of Environment the power to decide whether it’s ok to remove or delay species’ habitat protections. This change could turn a science-based decision to a political decision. In addition, the paper proposes weakening the legal timelines government is held to for creating action plans to protect species.

Wolverines, like the one pictured here, are classified as “Threatened” in Ontario under the Endangered Species Act.

The biodiversity crisis is severe, and shows no signs of slowing down. Ontario has the tools needed to meaningfully protect and recover species at risk; but they need to be implemented properly. This is no time to further undermine the ESA and paint it as ‘red tape’. Protecting species must be the first and foremost priority in the ESA.

To share your opinion and tell the government you want strong protections for species, participate in the Environmental Registry of Ontario online consultation, open until March 4th. You can also send a letter to your government representatives through this Ontario Nature action alert.

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The post On the brink of extinction: Why we can’t afford the Endangered Species Act to get any weaker appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Roses are red, violets are blue, plastic waste is a problem (as I’m sure you knew)!

Okay, so that’s not the most romantic poem to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. Most of us like to be pampered with chocolates, gifts and cards but have you stopped to think about all the unnecessary waste we accumulate for this one special day?

This Valentine’s Day, make it official, break-up with plastic and show the environment (and your loved one of course) some love.

1. Avoid individually-wrapped chocolates

Chocolates are an easy go-to gift on Valentine’s Day, but why do each of those little mouthfuls have to come individually wrapped in plastic, or foil, or both?  You can find a great selection of chocolates unwrapped and in bulk at most bulk stores. Be sure to bring your own container to make it fully plastic-free.

Want to make it more heartfelt? Nothing says “I love you” like homemade treats! Homemade chocolate truffles are delicious, luxurious, easy to make, and 100 per cent packaging-free.  Again, buy your ingredients at the bulk store if you can to make it plastics-free from start to finish!  Try this recipe for easy three-ingredient chocolate truffles.

Mmm.. zero-waste 2. Use eco-wrapping options

If you’re into gift-giving, it’s worth thinking about what you’re using to warp those gifts.  Lots of wrapping paper these days is metallic, shiny, or glittery and contains tiny bits of plastic. Unfortunately, all of which make these fun papers non-recyclable.

As a good rule, stick to matte paper that has no extra embellishments and is fine to go in the recycling bin.

To be extra safe, why not try one of these eco-alternatives?

  1. Use brown parcel paper and decorate it with fun stamps or your own designs
  2. Use reusable cloths or scarves to wrap your gifts. This is a traditional Japanese style called Furokishi, and it’s not just environmentally friendly but beautiful too! Check out this blog post for a great how-to.

Remember to avoid plastic ribbons and bows – consider reusable satin ribbon or compostable twine instead.

3. Give from the heart

Not everyone wants teddy-bears and trinkets, but it’s nice to shower the people you care about with gifts from time to time.  Instead of things, try experiences – spa days, tickets to the theatre or cinema, a dance lesson, or even go full “Ghost” with a couples’ pottery class.

If you’re on a budget or just not into making a big fuss why not go old school and leave that special someone (dare I say) a handwritten love note or poem? Or simply prepare some sweet treats– those lovely chocolates you made from scratch will do– and have a movie night at home.

A big part of the zero-waste movement is about realizing that we don’t need to fill up our lives with unnecessary things, which will ultimately end up in a landfill heap or worse, in the environment.  Let this Valentine’s Day be a chance to celebrate the things we can’t buy in stores!

And for a quick lesson on how NOT to buy nothing…

The problem is it isn’t ‘nothing’ – it’s totally irresponsible, wasteful #plasticpollution when we need to be working together to be #plasticfree & not filling our planet with even more pointless #plastic @Poundland @aplastic_planet @LessPlasticUK pic.twitter.com/uF1pTuuR4M

— Mum, what’s for tea? (@mum_whatsfortea) January 21, 2019

4. Decorations

Some  fun ideas you can do with the kids is to get creative with old cards as decorations, or get creative with craft paper! These love-heart paper chains are cute, fun to make with the kids and won’t end up ruining some poor turtle’s day.

Get crafty this Valentine’s Day to avoid plastic waste

Remember to avoid the balloons – pink, shiny or otherwise – they last forever and often wind up in the environment.

5. For the kids

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for you and your significant other – lots of kids like to get involved as well.  Cards and gifts for schoolmates can mean a whole lot of single-use wrapping. Reduce the waste by DIY-ing it (or hitting up those bulk stores again .. ) with homemade cookies or chocolates. Instead of packing these sweet treats in plastic baggies use a large tin to pass around the classroom.

Avoid buying cards that are shiny or laminated. And if you want to get crafty, you and your kids can make your very own!

We hope this helps you love your planet this Valentine’s Day!

The post Breaking up is hard to do – or is it? Five easy ways to break it off with plastic this Valentine’s Day appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE

For immediate release: February 7, 2019

First-of-its-kind Canadian experiment finds body levels of hormone disrupting BPA and BPS spike after handling receipts

Environmental Defence calls on the Canadian government to immediately ban BPA and other bisphenols on receipts to protect cashiers and customers

Toronto, Ont. – An experiment released today and conducted by Environmental Defence shows that cashiers are exposed to significant levels of hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) by handling receipts on the job. These same thermal paper receipts are suspected of contributing greatly to Canadians’ daily exposure to bisphenols.

“To see the levels of BPA and BPS in my body grow upwards of a hundred-fold just from holding receipts is mind boggling,” says Muhannad Malas, Toxics Program Manager at Environmental Defence and one of the experiment participants. “It is even more alarming that this is happening in the bodies of hundreds of thousands of women and teenage cashiers who are more biologically vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals.”

Environmental Defence staff partnered with the co-authors of the best-selling book Slow Death by Rubber Duck to measure their body levels of BPA and BPS following handling receipts for a period of time that is approximate to  a cashier’s total daily interaction with receipts.

All participants experienced significant spikes in body levels of BPA and BPS due to handling receipts and after avoiding all known sources of these chemicals for two weeks. The greatest increase was experienced by a participant who applied hand sanitizer, commonly used by cashiers, whose body levels of BPS grew by a shocking 115 times.

BPA or BPS is added to the chemical mixture that coats thermal paper used for printing receipts, tickets and transit passes. BPS is increasingly replacing BPA on thermal paper but its health impacts are more or less the same according to scientific research.

“What we know is that many companies have moved away from BPA in receipts in the past few years, but have unknowingly switched to BPS receipts that are marketed as BPA-free,” says Malas. “This is a perfect illustration of the failure of Canada’s toxics law to adequately protect Canadians and help businesses replace harmful chemicals with safer ones.”

In light of these findings, Environmental Defence is calling for an immediate government commitment to ban the use of BPA and BPS by 2021 and for the reform of the toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), to ensure safer alternatives replace banned chemicals.

“The federal government has promised to modernize our toxics law, but these alarming findings need more than promises,” says Malas. “Banning the use of BPA in receipts, like Europe has done, would help a great deal in reducing Canadians’ exposures to this hormone mimicker.”

For the full report, including the results from the experiment, please visit: environmentaldefence.ca/receipts. These results are also featured in the newly released 10th anniversary edition of Slow Death by Rubber Duck.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

– 30 –

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jamal, Environmental Defence, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251 (work), 905-921-7786 (cell)

The post First-of-its-kind Canadian experiment finds body levels of hormone disrupting BPA and BPS spike after handling receipts appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Remember when bisphenol A (or BPA) was banned in baby bottles in 2010? Thought the problem was over? Unfortunately, this hormone disrupting chemical is still found in the liners of food cans, reusable plastic food and beverage containers and thermal paper such as receipts, transit passes, movie tickets and more.

According to Health Canada’s latest biomonitoring survey (a survey of chemical contaminants in Canadians), nine out of 10 Canadians have BPA in their bodies. Even when steps are taken by governments and industry to eliminate BPA in products, nearly identical chemicals such as BPS have replaced it. Today, receipts are suspected to be a major source of our exposure to BPA and BPS.

That’s why we partnered with Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, the co-authors of the best-selling book Slow Death by Rubber Duck, to find out what happens to the levels of BPA and BPS in our body after handling receipts. Specifically, we wanted to know what kind of exposure occurs after handling receipts for as long as a cashier typically handles receipts during an 8-hour shift. (Read the full report here.)

And the results were shocking!

Click to view slideshow.

As the graphs show, by merely touching receipts for the same amount of time that a cashier does in a shift, all of our BPA and BPS levels increased significantly. Rick experienced the highest increase for both chemicals likely because he was the only one to apply hand sanitizer, which is commonly used by cashiers and suspected to increase skin absorption.

What does this all mean?

Receipts and other thermal paper slips are polluting our bodies. The situation is even more disconcerting for cashiers and workers that are women of childbearing age and teenagers as they are more biologically vulnerable to the effects of BPA and BPS.

Tips to reduce your exposure to BPA and BPS in receipts:
  1. Tell Canada ban these harmful chemicals from receipts today. Take action here!
  2. Say NO to receipts! If you don’t need it, don’t take it. Or ask for an e-receipt.
  3. If you need the receipt, fold the receipt with the print/glossy side in and hold it from the backside. The back of the receipt is unlikely coated with BPA and BPS.
  4. After handling a receipt, wash your hands thoroughly, especially before eating.
  5. Do not use hand sanitizers or lotions before or after handling receipts.
  6. Ask your favourite retailers to switch to e-receipts or non-bisphenol receipts.

Don’t forget to throw receipts in the trash! Receipts should not be recycled as the BPA/BPS coating ends up contaminating the recycling stream and ends up in our cardboard pizza boxes, tissue paper and other paper products made from recycled content.

The post The toxic receipt: How BPA creeps into our bodies from thermal paper appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Warning, sarcasm ahead…

Good news! Some of the biggest companies in the world including producers and users of plastic launched an initiative with the ambitious goal to end plastic waste. They call themselves… the alliance to end plastic waste! These 28 companies include plastic producers Shell, Chevron, and other fossil fuel companies, and plastic packaging giants like P&G (the maker of Mr Clean, Tide, and Crest, among others) and Henkel (the makers of Persil, Purex, Gliss, among others). They pledged $1 billion US dollars over 5 years, rising to $1.5 billion if they get more members to join.  These guys are major heavyweights in the plastics business, so when they come together like this that should be about it for the world’s plastic pollution problem, right?

Wrong. This may sound like a big deal, and a lot of money, but the plastic industry is valued at over $1 trillion US dollars per year. So the promised $1 billion over 5 years is less than 0.1% of their market value. And their effort is really about waste management, clean up and recycling. Noticeably absent? The crazy idea that we need to produce less plastic!

If only this seagull knew how to recycle properly. (Photo credit: Flickr user Ingrid Taylar)

Yep. Their grand vision is to “promote infrastructure, education and engagement, innovation, and clean up efforts to keep plastic waste in the right place.” They also plan to “collect and manage waste and increase recycling, especially in developing countries.”

Translation? They’re going to teach us to be better at cleaning up their mess.

We can’t rely on industry to voluntarily solve this problem. Take action now: ask the Government for meaningful action on plastic pollution.

Blaming consumers and developing countries

These multi-billion dollar companies are investing to solve a massive global problem that has been building up for decades – and which they profit from.

Their aim is to make more plastic, sell more plastic, and blame others for the pollution they cause. One of the alliance’s aims is to improve waste management systems in Asia that are unable to deal with the enormous amounts of plastics these companies are placing on their markets. They’re doing this so that developed countries like Canada can continue shipping vast amounts of low-value, and largely not recycled plastics off our own doorstep – which then end up in the environment somewhere else.

If they were serious about reducing plastic waste, one would guess that they are at least pledging to reduce the amount of plastic they’re putting out?

Guess again. In their own words, “even as we work aggressively to reduce plastic waste in the environment, we must maintain the critical benefits that plastics bring to people and communities around the world.” Without reductions, and the phase-out of non-recyclable plastics, this pledge is little more than corporate greenwashing.

Credit: Flickr user premasagar What do we need? More plastic!

While making headlines with an unlikely initiative to end plastic pollution with inadequate resources, these same companies are plotting an even bigger invasion of the world with plastics.

Exxon Mobile is planning on doubling its production of  Polystyrene (PE, the most common plastic used to make things like plastic bags, films, containers and other things we don’t need) in its plastics plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas. NOVA Chemicals, a plastics and chemical company headquartered in Calgary, is investing $2 billion building a new polyethylene plant in St. Clair Township, next to Sarnia. The plant will also receive a $100-million funding from Ontario tax payers as well as $35 million of Federal subsidies.

The plastic industry continuous growth since 1950 – source: plastics Europe

About 40% of the plastic production demand is for packaging, and therefore single use plastics – and industry is banking on the continued growth in demand. This kind of voluntary agreement is only paying lip service to the plastic pollution problem, and will not prevent plastics entering the environment and contaminating our bodies. What we need is for governments to take action. Only strong laws limiting the use of the worst types of plastics and ending single use plastics will make a dent in this plastic mountain.

Take action now – tell the Canadian Government that you want a zero plastic waste Canada by 2025!

The founding members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste include: NOVA Chemicals, BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, Clariant, Covestro, Dow Chemical, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, SUEZ, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia, and Versalis.

The post The plastics industry says it wants to fix plastic pollution! But don’t ask them to produce less plastic. appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Light rail transportation (LRT) is an excellent choice for Alberta’s sprawling cities to move people around quickly and cleanly. Light rail replaces cars on the road along with the noise and pollution that they generate. In fact, the City of Calgary estimates that when stage 1 of the Green line LRT is complete, it will reduce carbon emissions by 30,000 tonnes, every year – that’s the equivalent of  taking 6,000 vehicles off the roads. Furthermore, because Calgary is using electricity generated from wind, these polluting emissions are genuinely gone, not just moved to an electricity generation station.

Calgary’s Red Line LRT. Photo by Can Pac Swire, Flickr Creative Commons

Stage 1 of the Green line is expected to create 12,000 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs and this work is supported by a commitment of $1.7 billion from the province of Alberta. The bulk of the money for this project, $1.2 billion, is funded by the province’s carbon levy. Meanwhile in Edmonton, the Valley Line LRT will receive $1.04 billion from the carbon levy. This will eliminate 4,000 tonnes of polluting emissions in its first year of operation, and construction will create 37,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Expanding light rail transportation in Alberta through the carbon levy means that the polluters of today are paying for the infrastructure projects of tomorrow that will help the province reach its pollution reduction goals. This is one of the values that the carbon levy brings to Albertans. If the money came from general revenue, something else would either need to be cut, or these projects could be in danger of not going ahead.

Edmonton’s Capital Line LRT

And it’s not just Edmonton and Calgary benefiting from this dedicated funding, but projects across Alberta are eligible to receive funds through the Alberta Community Transit Fund. This fund will cover 40% of the cost for low emission busses and 50% for all electric busses, as well as 50% for energy retrofits for transit centres. Without funding from the carbon levy, these smaller town and city transit projects could be in jeopardy.

If Alberta’s current carbon levy is repealed Albertans will be subject to the Federal carbon tax. The current carbon levy includes rebates for mid- and low income Albertans as well as spending on various projects to reduce pollution, such as public transit. The federal carbon tax will include rebates too, but no project spending.  This means that dedicated funding for projects such as LRTs will no longer be available. Either regular tax dollars will need to be used which means diverting funding from other areas, or the projects will be canceled, which was the fate of many pollution reduction projects in Ontario when it repealed cap- and-trade.

Let’s keep our current Alberta carbon pricing plan and keep building the infrastructure we need to reach our climate goals.

The post LRT is great, paying for it with the carbon levy is better! appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Light rail transportation (LRT) is an excellent choice for Alberta’s sprawling cities to move people around quickly and cleanly. Light rail replaces cars on the road along with the noise and pollution that they generate. In fact, the City of Calgary estimates that when stage 1 of the Green line LRT is complete, it will reduce carbon emissions by 30,000 tonnes, every year – that’s the equivalent of  taking 6,000 vehicles off the roads. Furthermore, because Calgary is using electricity generated from wind, these polluting emissions are genuinely gone, not just moved to an electricity generation station.

Calgary’s Red Line LRT

Stage 1 of the Green line is expected to create 12,000 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs and this work is supported by a commitment of $1.7 billion from the province of Alberta. The bulk of the money for this project, $1.2 billion, is funded by the province’s carbon levy. Meanwhile in Edmonton, the Valley Line LRT will receive $1.04 billion from the carbon levy. This will eliminate 4,000 tonnes of polluting emissions in its first year of operation, and construction will create 37,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Expanding light rail transportation in Alberta through the carbon levy means that the polluters of today are paying for the infrastructure projects of tomorrow that will help the province reach its pollution reduction goals. This is one of the values that the carbon levy brings to Albertans. If the money came from general revenue, something else would either need to be cut, or these projects could be in danger of not going ahead.

Edmonton’s Capital Line LRT

And it’s not just Edmonton and Calgary benefiting from this dedicated funding, but projects across Alberta are eligible to receive funds through the Alberta Community Transit Fund. This fund will cover 40% of the cost for low emission busses and 50% for all electric busses, as well as 50% for energy retrofits for transit centres. Without funding from the carbon levy, these smaller town and city transit projects could be in jeopardy.

If Alberta’s current carbon levy is repealed Albertans will be subject to the Federal carbon tax. The current carbon levy includes rebates for mid- and low income Albertans as well as spending on various projects to reduce pollution, such as public transit. The federal carbon tax will include rebates too, but no project spending.  This means that dedicated funding for projects such as LRTs will no longer be available. Either regular tax dollars will need to be used which means diverting funding from other areas, or the projects will be canceled, which was the fate of many pollution reduction projects in Ontario when it repealed cap- and-trade.

Let’s keep our current Alberta carbon pricing plan and keep building the infrastructure we need to reach our climate goals.

The post LTR is great, paying for it with the carbon levy is better! appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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Here at Environmental Defence, we’re sick of excessive salt piling up on our roads, sidewalks and parking lots this winter. Salt is a necessary evil for de-icing slippery walkways, but we’re WAY over-applying and it’s having a serious impact on our freshwater. That’s why we teamed up with WWF Canada and CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) to ask the Ontario government to take action to monitor and manage the province’s salt intake. We’ve also been bringing up the road salt issue wherever we can – on our blog,  in a petition, our submissions to government, and in the news.

We’ve heard from thousands of our supporters that they too are getting tired of seeing piles of salt washing into our creeks and rivers. For many of us, once we know the impact salt can have on the environment it becomes even tougher to stomach it crunching under our feet or staining our favorite boots. So, what’s the alternative? How can we de-ice and still be nice to our lakes and rivers?

There are a few options, and all over Canada we’re seeing them become more popular.

Beet juice and cheese brine – a recipe for safe roads

Our roads and highways are one of the places we need to de-ice the most, to keep us all safe getting from point A to point B in harsh winter conditions. Many cities, recognizing the corrosive and damaging nature of salt, have adopted alternatives. Beet juice, pickle and cheese brine are just some examples of substances we can use to pre-treat roads when we know icy conditions are coming.

A winter maintenance vehicle pre-treats roads before the predicted arrival of a winter storm.

This year, the City of Calgary expanded its beet brine program with success, and the City of Winnipeg is following suit by expanding their pilot program using beet juice. In Wisconsin, a rural county has discovered that pre-treating their roads with cheese brine (appropriate for the Cheese State) allows them to reduce road salt application significantly.

These eco-friendly alternatives are a step in the right direction! But what about on our own properties and around our homes?

Take-home solutions for de-icing

There’s a lot we can do on our own properties to de-ice and still be nice to freshwater ecosystems.

The most popular is shovelling well then using sand to create a slip free surface. There are also some emerging products on the market that offer eco-friendly alternatives. For example, EcoTraction offers a material from volcanic ash that can create traction on sidewalks and paved spaces to avoid ice related slips and trips, in a natural way.

Road salt that has been over applied in a parking lot.

Alternative products are an option, and there are folks that take creative solutions a step further! We’ve heard of people using everything from kitty litter to coffee grinds to create traction and avoid slips and trips on their driveways and sidewalks. Things like sugar beet juice and alfalfa meal have also been useful on a household level, if you don’t mind a bright purple driveway.

Less is more

The moral of the story, is that we have options. And even when road salt is the best option, we need to start using way less of it. If juices, brines and coffee grinds aren’t for you, here are a few tips on how to make the most of your household salt application:

1.   Shovel first, and shovel well: get all snow out of the way before salting. Salt that is applied on top of snow melts into storm drains, then creeks and rivers much more quickly.

2.   A film canister at a time: apply salt with a smaller vessel, like a film canister so you can control how much goes onto the ground more easily. A film canister amount is enough salt to melt a full square metre of pavement!

3.   Opt for an alternative: be mindful of the temperature, and when it’s below -10C, use an alternative. The salt isn’t effective anyway during those frigid temperatures, so there’s no use in applying it.

Spread the word

We know people want to be environmentally responsible home owners, and by taking the steps above we can all make an impact. However, the biggest place we need to reduce salt application is often at commercial parking lots and large paved spaces.

If you notice that the businesses you frequent are way overdoing it, let them know it! Customer feedback can be a great way to get companies to notice an issue and start to address it. Take this dumping of road salt on a sidewalk, for example:

This is way way way too much salt! #LessSalty pic.twitter.com/wVzRHf09Zk

— Nick Reid (@NicH2Olas) January 30, 2019

This salt is so over applied that the vast majority of it will wash directly into nearby waterways, damaging habitat and turning water too salty for turtles, salamanders, frogs and fish to survive. Use the #LessSalty to share images and see what others are doing to reduce our salt impact!

The post “Salt-ernatives”: Options to keep our roads clear and freshwater clean this winter appeared first on Environmental Defence.

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