The quiet cuts

Mike De Souza tallies the cuts at Environment Canada.

About $4 million in funding for response to oil spills or other environmental emergencies is being cut as part of a shift toward a “nationally co-ordinated” model that would focus on providing advice from a central location. Meantime, the monitoring of water pollution will “be made more efficient,” along with a reduction in “the overall number of monitoring stations,” for upper atmospheric ozone.

Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist from Dalhousie University, suggested the government has no evidence to support its plan. ”The observational network was put together very carefully by experts over many years,” said Duck. “This is reckless destruction of important scientific capacity that is needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians.”

Oil spill monitoring in British Columbia will also be cut, news of which drew an enlightening response from Peter Kent’s office.

The federal government has sought to downplay concerns about the changes. “This will not impact Canadians or the environment,” said a statement from Environment Minister Peter Kent’s office this week. ”These employees were not cleaning up spills. They were providing information about environmentally sensitive land and species at risk.”




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The quiet cuts

  1. Always….it’s the science that goes

  2. “Science, schmience. What’s important is that we have money for Big Oil tax breaks.”

  3. So we will just wait for a spill and then somebody will come out from Ottawa to tell us what should be done. 

    • Even better .. I believe the article says it’s being relocated to Quebec.
      Who, in BC, ever listens to someone from Quebec ?
      But is a problem a problem if you don’t know you have a problem ?

      • I’m surprised they didn’t relocate to Alert or Pond inlet – surely they could find somewhere further fron the scene of the action?

  4. I think the Minister is right, actually.  Not defending the cuts, but the Coast Guard does on site response and Environment Canada organizes the federal agencies/departments to provide further and better advice to the Coast Guard – if you unexpectedly need sea lion experts, for example, or herring spawning timelines.  The group being cut is the one that coordinates finding that information, not the guys in boats throwing out booms on the water to stop the spread of a slick.  See the following documents:
    http://www.cohencommission.ca/DownloadExhibit.php%3FExhibitID%3D1626&sa=U&ei=sEyQT_qFE8_06AH1vb2WBA&ved=0CAUQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFEjGk9tHbmcMF426qS39g0DwB9yg

    and the following at pdf pages 63-65:

    http://www.cohencommission.ca/en/Schedule/Transcripts/CohenCommission-HearingTranscript-2011-08-17.pdf&sa=U&ei=sEyQT_qFE8_06AH1vb2WBA&ved=0CAsQFjAD&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNHR2xdhf328M15SL8uu05I-Uat7Lg

      • “These employees were not cleaning up spills. They were providing information about environmentally sensitive land and species at risk.”

        You don’t find anything wrong with this statement when say a proposed pipeline of several thousand klms crossing numerous fish bearing important waterways, crossing “environmentally sensitive lands” and exiting in an area that is still a source of food for many of its mainly FNs inhabitants, home to all 5 salmon species and numerous other species at risk; you don’t find this statement borderline INSANE!.
        Tell me is this govt actually actively seeking to incite mass civil disobedience and open warfare with the FNs on the coast? Cuz it is starting to look to me like this is where this is headed.

        • Um, no.  Not insane.  I don’t see how the pipeline reference is relevant.  With respect, I really don’t think you understand the discussion or the nature of what is being cut. 

          If a pipeline breaches then the provincial environmental regulator gets involved.  It will draw on whatever resources it needs from federal and provincial agencies.  If the pipeline happens to be federally regulated then Environmental Canada has a responsibility to provide advice to the responding agency, which would be the National Energy Board.  But regardless of who the pipeline regulator is the same set of federal resources would be relied on.

          These cuts will remove some of the people involved in coordinating the advice and relocate the rest.  But it doesn’t affect first responders.

          • er, “Environment Canada” .  And, re Northern Gateway, BC MOE and AENV would be involved in any spill, irrespective of whether it is a federal or provincial pipeline.

          • Take a look at a map bud. They aren’t going to be involved in nothing if a spill occurs tween sept and april/may. Kitimat is a nutty location full stop.

          • Ah – tanker spills – you know the boats that will be filled with stuff that couldwipe out large areas of coastal habitat…

          • I have no idea what you’re getting at.  I have no position about whether the cuts are a good idea or a bad idea.  It’s clear that you think the people being cut are doing something they’re not.  It’s clear that you don’t like the Northern Gateway project.  That’s fine.  I’m not arguing it one way or the other.  If you are, then you’re having an argument with yourself.  I’m going to back away slowly.

          • I may very well not fully understand the whole issue here but i know a non sequitur when i see one.

            “These cuts will remove some of the people involved in coordinating the advice and relocate the rest.  But it doesn’t affect first responders.”

            And i know what to think of a minister who isn’t qualified to tie his shoelaces without an aide of some kind.

            Sorry but theses cuts are not one offs. It is perfectly reasonable to wonder given the govt has risked its political future on a strategy of resource extraction if there isn’t also a coordinated strategy of suppression toward those who object [ enviros and FNs] and the scientists/experts who do the monitoring.

            Believe me this is a dumb approach. Anger is brewing in BC that’ll make the protests in Clayoquot look like a teddy bear picnic.

          •  If the First Nations and property owners along the pipeline are not cut in for a share of the profits or compensated appropriately, I can certainly see unrest myself.   

            Otherwise, any anger that is brewing in BC from environmental activists is pretty much inevitable, as the only thing that would satisfy them is shutting down the tar sands entirely.  They will still protest other pipelines going south or east, or any rail transport of oil which is far more risky and energy intensive than using a pipeline.

          • Yanni

            http://nbharbinger.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/130-bc-first-nations-declare-pact-against-tar-sands-pipeline/

            Tell that to these guys. They aren’t all going to be bought off, not this time.

            Harper is wasting his and our time. The courts are going to rule in the affected FNs favour in any case.

            They had an opportunity to pick a more sensible route such  PR, but they pissed off so many stake holders i doubt if even that will fly now. AND they are going to need another ER. This, if it happens will be entirely Harpers, and his cronies in the oil patches, can to carry. Tax payers take note.

          •  Now that is interesting.  Kudos to them if they can stick to it, but even if they do that pipeline is going through BC one way or another.   Just as the TransCanada Natural Gas pipeline went through despite some farmers shooting at surveyers and being obstructionist.

          • Yanni

            [not so mad at me now? Actually i apologize if you were truly offended. Of course i don't think all wildrosers are eugenicists or supremicists.I don't even really think all tories are cry babies for that matter. ]

            It isn’t a matter of a couple of pissed off farmers[ kudos to them for sticking up for themselves, i would too]
            If you read the link or follow that story elsewhere you’ll see what i mean – this 2012 now. Does Harper think it’s 1950? You can’t just raildroad people [ isn't that part of Smith's programme?]

            History is on the side of FNs now and so far Harper’s on the wrong side of it – at least on the gateway pipeline. He’ll lose eventually.

            800 people arrested over Clayoquot by the way…and they won. Times change.

      • Makes sense as that is what a private company would do when cutting back  -  it is the middle man that usually goes or duplicate positions.

  5. This is incredibly selfish and short sighted.

    Harper is selling the “economy” to people who are all too willing to suck up all the consumer goodies and comfort  now, and leave the environment to those down the road. Eventually the environment will need tending to and the more negligent we are now, the more it will cost later.Do you honestly think the bill will never come due?

    Only dumb animals shit in the nest and this is not only dumb, but greedy too.

    • It is incredibly selfish and short-sighted, but consumers have to be willing to bear the costs and discomfort of reducing consumption.    So far, voters across the political spectrum seem to be rejecting this.

      Even when left of center parties (NDP and Greens) propose carbon taxes or cap and trade schemes, they are very quick to assure their voters that their plan will not cause an increase in the cost of energy for consumers.   Which is pretty much counterproductive to what carbon taxes are supposed to accomplish in the first place, which is curbing consumption.

      • Selling environmental stewardship to the Me, Me², Me³ etc. generations is indeed a hard sell – if it’s going to be more than a buzzword.
         Big, powerful ideas are often born out of conscience, but need charisma to light the fuse. There is a dearth of charisma in Canadian politics and a whole pile of money ready to sully ideas that disrupt the financial status quo. 

  6. “About $4 million in funding for response to oil spills or other environmental emergencies is being cut as part of a shift toward a “nationally co-ordinated” model that would focus on providing advice from a central location. Meantime, the monitoring of water pollution will “be made more efficient,” along with a reduction in “the overall number of monitoring stations,” for upper atmospheric ozone”

    hmm, cut $4mil earmarked for oil spill response and 42 jobs and have a “nationally co-ordinated” model.

    Why cut anything for oil spills – counter intuitive; what do those 42 jobs actually entail – bet they aren’t janitors; centalized model office – anyone who knows the high regard with which DFO is held in BC can answer that one. First thing they’ll do is take some of that 4 mil and buy some new office furniture for the boss.

    • Because we all know how well ‘national co-ordination’ has worked in the U.S. – i.e. Katrina and the Gulf spill. 

    • You seem to forget that millions are being spent on other projects, with great success.

      “Known as NEPTUNE (North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiments), this unique lab is a pathfinder for studying what happens in the ocean in real time, a feat previously impossible with traditional shipboard expeditions or submersibles. NEPTUNE’s projected 25-year lifespan means ocean scientists will no longer be limited to snapshots, but will be able to watch deep sea processes as they unfold.

      There is a lot to study: a recent report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimated that 95% of the world’s ocean and 99% of the ocean floor remains unexplored. Some of the most crucial challenges – from climate change to earthquakes – facing the global community can’t be effectively tackled without a much better handle on intertwined biological, chemical and geological ocean processes.

      “It’s time to bring all the data together in a multidisciplinary way to try to understand the ocean as a whole system,” says Mairi Best, a geophysicist from the University of Victoria in British Columbia and NEPTUNE’s associate director for science.”

      http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/4714/full

      • Yeah i’m aware of neptune…what’s your point?

      • I guess you didn’t read far enough to where they talk about funding uncertainties.

  7. The F-35s will perform all of these functions. No problemo.

    • lol

      and do it stealthily, but slightly overbudget.

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