OFC Scoop 2: Sept 2014

Sacred Headwaters: Another step towards protection!

When government does the right thing, we need to thank them and encourage more action in that direction. We have this opportunity now on the OFC priority to see the Sacred Headwaters protected: the province just announced there will be no work permits for Fortune Minerals’ coal tenure this year while talks about protection continue with the Tahltan First Nation.

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In December 2012 we celebrated, with the Tahltan First Nation, a very important step in protecting the Sacred Headwaters from development.

Royal Dutch Shell announced they would spare the Headwaters [Klappan] from their fracking plans, which included thousands of gas wells being punched throughout the pristine landscape and pipelines to get it out. As well, the provincial government announced a ban on oil and gas in the Sacred Headwaters. A decade of resistance and fierce community opposition by the Tahltan First Nations and downstream communities with support from environmental allies brought us all to this point.

But the threat of a large coal mine in the Headwaters remained. A summer-long blockade in 2013 by Tahltan people shut down Fortune Minerals’ field season, and led to formal talks with the provincial government. To provide space for those talks to consider all options for the region, including protection, the province placed a deferral on any new coal tenuresuntil December of 2014. But Fortune’s existing coal tenure remained.

On September 8th, 2014, the province announced they were deferring any permits that would allow on-the-ground work to happen on the tenure until December 1st, meaning there has been and won’t be any work done on the tenure in 2014. This is great news! In its announcement, the province cites on-going “discussions regarding the potential development of a provincially designated protected area in the Klappan.”

Say “thanks” to the provincial ministers that took this decision, and encourage them to ensure this magnificent region gets the protection it needs.

Note: there has been some recent RCMP action at another Tahltan blockade, which you may want to reference in your letter.

 

Municipalities critical to environment protection

Local governments have significant control over everything from development to policing, recycling to transit, and much more. Local government policies impact nearly half our greenhouse gas emissions.

Every year in late September, elected local politicians gather from across BC to discuss issues that impact you daily. Help them figure out which way to vote on the issues you care about!

You, too, can help: go here to find your local government’s contact info, then email at least the mayor/chair/chief as well as the Administrative Officer (often the CAO) to let them know what you want them to support. Ask them to circulate your email among all the local voting delegates.

Local governments rarely hear from constituents on these resolutions, so your voice will stand out!

There are three main areas OFC and its member groups are focused on this year:

Kinder Morgan (Resolution B82)

Burnaby seeks endorsement of a resolution to oppose Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, and to call on various levels of government to develop a comprehensive pipeline and energy transport plan. There will likely be more late resolutions linked to Kinder Morgan’s potential impacts on Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and other tanker- and process-related concerns from Vancouver and Victoria. We’ll be urging delegates to vote yes on all of these.

LNG and northern community impacts (B107)

Environmental assessments of the many LNG proposals under development are all proceeding independently, overwhelming communities and First Nations affected and offering little opportunity for them to consider the big picture impacts. Queen Charlotte City is calling for a strategic economic and environmental impact assessment of LNG development to be co-chaired by the province and First Nations. This is also a priority for OFC.

Energy efficiency measures for homes and buildings (B93 and B94)

Homes and buildings contributed, on average, 35% of community emissions. These two resolutions are calling for greater transparency on energy use by buildings which has been shown to help reduce energy use over time: energy labelling for new residential construction up to three storeys and under 600 square metres (B93) and annual reporting of large building energy use to be compared against benchmarks (B94). Three additional resolutions also call on the provincial government to enable energy efficient buildings: B27, B28 and B64.

You can read the full resolutions here and more. Local governments rarely hear from their constituents on these resolutions, so your voice will stand out!

 

Do I have to tick the box again?!

Was your inbox full of pleas to “confirm your acceptance” or “we need your consent!”? What was behind all that and why is it important to follow through for the organizations that work on things you care about?

A federal law kicked in July 1st that prohibits “commercial electronic messages” (CEMs) from being sent to people that haven’t explicitly consented to receive them. Most charities and non-profits, like OFC and its member groups, don’t send many, if any, CEMs because our work is not “commercial” in nature. Charitable fundraising was exempted from the law. However, the new focus on email consent was a good reminder for many of us to ensure we have good email systems in place.

As a supporter of one or more of OFC’s member organizations, we send these emails to you on their behalf. Our organizations tell government that protecting our environment is important to British Columbians and every so often we need to find ways to demonstrate that support as concretely as possible – a deluge of emails, a petition, even rallies. It shows government that we are able to communicate with a lot of people, people that care about environmental issues, and they will act on that concern. It lets government know there’s support from constituents to do the right thing.

If you want to ensure that you will continue to receive occasional newsletters and emails from OFC in the future, please provide your consent.

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Staying on the lists of environmental organizations, even multiple lists, keeps you up to date on issues important to you and ensures you know when action is needed. One click won’t save the world, but it can keep you connected to the issues, actions and organizations that can help.

 

Heads up

Municipal Elections: Webinar for Third Party Advertisers

Earlier this year, the BC government passed the new Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, which includes provisions for those sponsoring “third party advertising”. These are individuals or organizations that, during an election period, directly or indirectly promote or oppose the election of a candidate or an elector organization, or undertake communications that take a position on an issue with which a candidate (or elector organization) is associated. It’s that last part that applies to many community groups and non-profits who are active on issues of public interest in their communities. It can even happen inadvertently, when a candidate takes a position on an issue that your organization has been active on for many years, even if you had no intention of engaging in the local elections directly.

It’s important for your group to understand this new law and how it may, or may not, affect you. The deadline to register as a third party advertiser is September 30th, so you should have a plan before then, whether or not you are registering.

OFC is hosting a webinar on September 19 from 12-1pm PST to provide an overview of what’s captured and what’s required of you; you should also check out the Elections BC’s recent Third Party Sponsor Guide to Local Elections in B.C.

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Provincial Budget Consultations

The Select Standing Committee on Finance is hitting the road and wants to hear from you!Tell the government how you think they should be raising and spending money on your behalf, and be sure to make environmental protection a key point. You can respond to their questionnaire, or write your own email (not limited to their questions) or, best yet, make a short presentation to the bi-partisan committee coming to a community (possibly) near you! You have to sign up for the presentation spaces, and they’ll be going fast.

Fall legislative session

It’s been several years since we’ve had a fall session, but we’ve got one coming up! The falling sitting of the BC Legislature is scheduled to start October 6th. Government’s main objective is to set out the framework for how liquid natural gas (LNG) will be developed in BC, though there will likely be a few other topics on the agenda. You can track proceedings here.

Make sure you’re confirmed on OFC’s list to get our next newsletter which will have an update on that session.