Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Alvin Finkel · University of Manitoba Interesting that this comment board is dominated by people who simply want the oil and gas industry to disappear plus one commenter who could not care less about the impacts of that industry on the environment or Native peoples. The positive response to this government action by local Indigenous peoples is obscured by these negative reactions. The enemy of the good, as usual, is the better. Like · Reply · 1 · 3h

Alberta creates world's largest protected boreal forest

The Birch Mountain Wetlands are shown in a handout photo. Alberta is creating the world's largest boreal forest preserve with the announcement of a series of new wildland parks in the province's northeast. The five new or expanded areas adjoin Wood Buffalo National Park and add up to 13,000 square kilometres of forest, wetland, lakes and rivers. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta has designated four new provincial parks in the province’s north, creating the world’s largest contiguous protected boreal forest. 
About the size of New Brunswick, the 6.7-million-hectare chunk of forest builds on Wood Buffalo National Park north of Fort McMurray. 
The rejig expands the Birch Mountains park, and adds Kazan, Richardson, Dillon River and Birch River wildland provincial parks to the map. 
It’s the largest addition to the Alberta Parks system in history.
The new protected areas were identified by the previous government in the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) in 2012. 
That plan had “some enormous problems to solve,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said at the announcement in Edmonton on Tuesday, so her government took a fresh look at it.
At the time, Syncrude, Tallcree First Nation, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the federal government were already at the table.
“This had been circling around for awhile as a proposal,” Phillips said. 
“It took us coming to the idea to push it forward and say, ‘It’s more than a good idea, we’re going to do it.’”

Indigenous communities key 

After rejigging the LARP, the Environment and Parks department took the updated plan to communities. 
“What I heard was that people wanted the protected areas … but they wanted a voice in how those protected areas were managed, and they wanted to incorporate traditional land use and traditional knowledge,” Phillips said.
What evolved was a unique level of co-operation, which will see Indigenous communities partner with the government in a series of management arrangements to look after the new parks.
The government is also exploring an Indigenous Guardian Program, through which First Nations and Métis peoples are hired to monitor the areas, help maintain the lands and provide education and outreach to park visitors.
Tallcree First Nation Chief Rupert Meneen said the collaboration aligns closely with his tribal government’s values. 
His nation relinquished its Birch River area timber licence and quota so the new Birch River park could be created. Syncrude gave $2.3 million to the NCC to cover off that quota payment. 
“The boreal forest holds greater value to the First Nation for exercising our traditional way of life and the quiet enjoyment of our treaty rights,” Meneen told reporters Tuesday.
“It’s all about preserving lands and saving what’s there — the caribou there and the wildlife there. That’s what’s important.” 
Bill Loutitt, CEO of McMurray Metis Local 1935, called the co-operative effort a “historic opportunity.”
“The new wildland provincial parks ensure Indigenous peoples have places to hunt and fish with their families for generations to come,” he said Tuesday. 
For Phillips, the new parks and how they will be managed speak to conservation in the era of truth and reconciliation.
“This piece isn’t just about that protected area, but those ongoing conversations about co-operative management and how conservation looks in the 21st century,” she said.
“Conservation areas are as much about wildlife, biodiversity and climate resilience … as they are about how we support traditional land use, traditional knowledge, our treaty obligations and First Nations treaty rights.”
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Julie Ali · 
I'm curious how much land the tailings ponds cover not to mention the orphan wells. What about land impacted by fracking?
Diane Corbin · 
As of September 2017, tailings ponds covered 220 sq. kms. Expansion would create more. So, how much of this new parkland is impacted by that. How much of that land and everything on it is toxic? Not sure I would want to hunt and eat off of there until studies prove that it’s safe.
Julie Ali · 
Diane Corbin For some reason my response to you has been removed. I just wanted to comment that we don't have a clear idea of how much land has been fracked and damaged in Alberta. Jessica Ernst's case is troubling and for some reason government and industry wants us to believe that the fracking history is entirely pristine.
The problem with this sort of fairy tale is that it is statistically impossible; no industry is 100% accident free. I dare not post Jessica's website here as it may be taken down again as it has in the past.
Citizens should look beyond the greenwashing stories to the facts of government performance or lack thereof.
What for example are the liabilities being left by the oil and gas industry or does no one care?
Diane Corbin · 
It seems most people have bought into the fiction the politicians and the industry have created about the economy to care that o&g is one of the most destructive industries on the planet. I don’t even understand why fracking is legal.

When will the majority of the population finally realize that we can’t breathe, drink, or eat the money produced by this industry? Maybe when they’re choking on toxic air or there’s no more clean water or food left to buy? Or will they continue in their apathetic somnolence until the earthquakes caused by such extensive fracking destroy everything?

I realize I haven’t provided much in the way of details, but the impacts of this dirty, toxic, destructive industry are enormous and far reaching. As it is, people die every day from the impacts of the petroleum industry, particularly where tar sands is concerned.

Fracking will either pollute all of our drinking water or deplete it all. One way or another, we need to smarten up. There are sustainable energy technologies to support our lifestyles and boost our economy. Why are we not putting more effort into developing those? (Because petroleum is easy.)
Julie Ali · 
Diane Corbin Well I can see the reason why Albertans are so protective of the industry. They get jobs from the industry that pay for the bills of life.

Also the spin from all the political parties, government and the industry as well as media is present so how would folks know any better?

I did not question the spin until I started reading about cases of Alberta families like that of Jessica Ernst who were impacted by the industry and not one political party including the NDP have helped to provide us with this information.

I'm also curious how much water is being used by the industry for free.
That's a more important area than the oil in my opinion. Water is going to be the big problem and when will we decide this? I think we're going to decide this as the water runs out.

Synergy groups, AER spin, the puppets of the political parties all are complicit in the lack of information present about both the environmental and economic risks present.

Jessica Ernst has been sidelined by both the industry and government in my opinion; she will go bankrupt. That's the way they do it if you dare to bring up problems in the oil and gas industry.

It's all troubling. But Albertans would rather not hear about these problems, and certainly not agitate about them. But there you go.
Darrell Foster
Diane Corbin Oh my!
Diane Corbin · 
Julie Ali yes, it’s a real challenge in Alberta to change people’s minds about what might sustain them. Who wants to put in the extra effort needed to make changes when you’re simply trying to earn a living the best way you know? I get that. The resistance to this sort of change is pervasive.

However, we are at crunch time as far as the environment is concerned. I’m not even going to broach the CC topic here. The resistance to that truth is unholy.

My question is why didn’t our so-called leaders make the serious changes necessary to move toward a sustainable (in more ways than one) economy while everyone was already hurting the most, instead of attempting to rescue and resurrect the petroleum industry aka tar sands? The opportunity was there and it would have been great timing, without causing a whole lot more pain.

Politics is really a nasty game that holds people’s lives ransom. The spin and straw man arguments are designed to create a rhetoric that reinforces conditioning in the masses, in order to win votes. The electorate is the pawn and most don’t realize they’re selling their souls in the name of politics.

So now, here we go again, embracing the boom and bust of the oil industry. If we continue the status quo, it’s only a matter of time, possibly a very short time, before the economy crumbles yet again. And we haven’t even fully recovered from the last recession.
Julie Ali · 
Diane Corbin I doubt that Albertans will accept climate change. The spin is incredible. If you just look at the structure of the spin system in Alberta with CAPP, AER, political parties and their Synergy groups it's almost impossible to get out of pack or herd mentality and why would you even try?
Just look at Jessica Ernst. Ten years of the lawsuit. Families can't do this stuff. They give up and settle in court. That's the way the oil and gas industry has kept the lid on the problems.
I mean it's really impossible to believe that any industry is 100% perfect so why would we think that fracking contamination of water sources is impossible? It's nonsensical to believe that there were no problems especially in the development stage of the business.
But in Alberta it is see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil about the oil and gas industry. The political parties are abjectly bound to the industry in terms of revenue flow. The lack of ethics in politicians is incredible but we tolerate it for what else are we to do? Hire another group? Didn't we just do this in Alberta?
I don't think we want the oil and gas industry to disappear as Alvin Finkel is implying below but certainly there needs to be transparency, accountability and some real truths spoken which currently is restricted to Jessica Ernst and a few activists. Sad. Are Albertans afraid to speak of the problems? I'd say yes.
Alvin Finkel · 
Interesting that this comment board is dominated by people who simply want the oil and gas industry to disappear plus one commenter who could not care less about the impacts of that industry on the environment or Native peoples. The positive response to this government action by local Indigenous peoples is obscured by these negative reactions. The enemy of the good, as usual, is the better.
Julie Ali · 
I don't think we're wanting the oil and gas industry to disappear. We're wanting the truth about liabilities to be made clear.

For there are liabilities. The main one is the environmental liabilities that are not being currently covered by the industry. If the Redwater decision is upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada this means all of us are responsible for the remediation costs and it's hefty.

Why do you consider our concerns to be a rejection of the oil and gas industry? It's actually our requirement as citizens to hold all entities who use our resources accountable and to ensure fairness for our kids and grandkids.

The positive response of First Nations people is present for sure and they will be hopefully included in the future development of the oil and gas industry. But hopefully they will be better than the PCs and the NDP folks have been to ensure that the costs of remediation are paid upfront by the industry.

I wonder if you are a spokesperson for the NDP folks as I see you commenting on behalf of them sometimes? The NDP folks have been a disappointment because they have failed to hold the industry accountable and simply turned themselves into the PCs. It's a wonder to me that NDP supporters can recognize this crew.
Julie Ali · 
Here is the sort of liability we will be paying for. the event that a mine operator cannot fulfill its reclamation obligations, and no other private operator assumes the liability, the province may have to pay a potentially substantial cost for this work to be completed. Thus, a robust and responsive system to calculate and collect security from mine operators is essential.
Ignatius Kizoo · 
I don't see any reference to the recently Red-listed Species at Rish - people working in resource industries to support their families.
Doug Burnett · 
Awesome. What was that other thing today? 40 million for....
Johnny Gunnz · 
Thats just awesome! 

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