Schooner Katie Belle arrives in Halifax under full sail

11 06 2016

Hand-built schooner Katie Belle arrives in Halifax under full sail

Hundreds of people gathered on the Halifax waterfront Saturday afternoon to greet the crew of the Katie Belle.

Hundreds of people gathered on the Halifax waterfront Saturday afternoon to greet the crew of the Katie Belle. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

The crew of a wooden schooner hand-built by cousins in Stewiacke, N.S. capped off their first voyage by crossing the Bluenose II under full sail in St. Margarets Bay this weekend.

“The wind was right on our bow … doing eight and a half knots, skipping across the waves,” crew member Chester Gourley said.

“We were all hooting and hollering.”

Homecoming celebration

Hundreds of friends, family members and people from the Colchester County area gathered along the Halifax Harbour Saturday afternoon to greet the Katie Belle as the crew marked their return to Nova Scotia.

Cousins Evan and Nick Densmore spent five years building the 24-metre wooden ship, which they tested along the Eastern Seaboard this winter.

Evan Densmore said, as they approached the dock, he was amazed to see so many familiar faces, including many from his hometown who followed the project over the years.

“It’s like the end of a dream,” he said following a ceremony on the waterfront.

“It’s quite a good feeling when I bring my ship, all in one piece, all the way back home.”

Sea trials along the U.S. coast

The crew departed Saint John bound for South Carolina in March. They spent more than a month in Charleston, installing the jib and main sail and testing the vessel under sail.

Evan Densmore said the boat never failed them, but there were a few grisly moments.

The longest stint at sea was seven days. On the way south with four people on board, they took turns manning the helm 24 hours a day, guiding the ship as it didn’t have autopilot.

“It took us 16 days to get down there, you’re pretty worn out. I lost about 15 pounds on the way down, it was cold too,” he said.

Not always smooth sailing

Gourley says the reality of living on the ship quickly replaced the romance he’d imagined when he set out.

“People were losing their teeth, losing their cell phones, losing their lunch,” he said.

Stewiacke boys

But the journey came with its high points too. At one point, they anchored off Ellis Island in New York in the middle of the night, waking up to a familiar silhouette.

“They woke up in the morning with their tea and there in the fog and there was the Statue of Liberty,” Gourley said.

“There’s Stewiacke boys on a Stewiacke-built boat. If that isn’t what the Ivany report is supposed to do, I don’t know what is.”

cousins on the Katie BelleEvan Densmore, left, and Nick Densmore wave goodbye as their schooner set sail from Parrsboro, N.S., in February. (Tommy Strutz/Facebook)

Proving it’s possible

Gourley says he hopes the Katie Belle continues to be an example of what’s possible in Nova Scotia.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of people that thought those two men were crazy,” he said.

“I hope government officials, businesses, just the common workers see that this can happen. Just put your head down and do it.”

Statement from Green Party David Coon on World Oceans Day

8 06 2016

 Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, issued the following statement in recognition of World Ocean’s Day:

“We must remember that our over-dependence on fossil fuels is not only destabilizing our climate, but the resulting carbon pollution is acidifying our ocean waters right here in New Brunswick. Unabated, this could pose a risk to the health of our lobster fishery in the long-term,” said Coon.

One third of all carbon emissions are absorbed at the ocean surface and converted into carbonic acid, creating a more acidic environment for marine life. Federal fisheries scientists have already recorded increased acidity in both the Bay of Fundy and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence over the last 75 years.

“As a member of the Legislative Assembly’s SeIect Committee on Climate Change, I am looking forward to hearing from commercial fisherman and coastal community residents about steps we should be taking to reduce carbon pollution,” said Coon.  “They are already experiencing the intense weather, changing currents, rising water temperatures, costal erosion and changes in marine life behaviour caused by overloading our environment with carbon pollution.  The prospect of acidifying ocean waters is chilling,” said Coon.

The Green Party leader says Premier Brian Gallant must bring carbon reduction commitments to the First Ministers’ table that reflect the gravity of the consequences of unchecked carbon pollution for New Brunswick.   The Premiers are scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister on October to finalize a national strategy to cut carbon emissions in Canada.  New Brunswick’s Select Committee on Climate Change is scheduled to hold its inaugural meeting on June 16th and is expected to report to the Legislative Assembly prior to the First Ministers meeting.

Pour publication immédiate
8 juin 2016

Déclaration du chef du Parti vert sur la Journée mondiale des océans


Fredericton — David Coon, chef du Parti vert du Nouveau-Brunswick et député de Fredericton Sud a fait la déclaration suivante à l’occasion de la Journée mondiale des océans :

« Nous devons nous rappeler que notre dépendance excessive envers les carburants fossiles ne déstabilise pas seulement le climat, mais que la pollution par le carbone provoquée acidifie les eaux des océans ici même au Nouveau-Brunswick.  Sans changements, cela pourrait constituer un risque à long terme pour nos prises de homards, » fait remarquer Coon.

Un tiers de toutes nos émissions de carbone est absorbé par la surface des océans et converti en acide carbonique, créant ainsi un environnement plus acide pour la vie marine. Durant les soixante-quinze dernières années, les scientifiques fédéraux des pêches ont déjà observé l’augmentation de l’acidité de la baie de Fundy et du sud du golfe du Saint-Laurent.

« Comme membre du comité spécial sur les changements climatiques de la législature, j’ai hâte d’entendre les pêcheurs commerciaux et les résidents des collectivités côtières sur les actions que nous devrions mettre en œuvre pour réduire la pollution par le carbone, » affirme Coon.  « Ils subissent déjà les phénomènes météorologiques intenses, les modifications des courants, l’augmentation des températures de l’eau, l’érosion côtière et les changements de comportement de la vie marine causés par la surcharge de notre environnement par la pollution carbonée.  La perspective de l’acidification des océans est alarmante, » affirme Coon.

Le chef du Parti vert suggère que le premier ministre Brian Gallant devrait s’engager à introduire la réduction du carbone à la table des premiers ministres afin de souligner la gravité des conséquences d’une pollution débridée par le carbone pour le Nouveau-Brunswick.  Les premiers ministres prévoient se rencontrer en octobre pour finaliser la stratégie nationale de réduction des émissions de carbone au Canada.  Le comité spécial sur les changements climatiques du Nouveau-Brunswick doit tenir sa première rencontre le 16 juin, et devrait déposer son rapport à l’Assemblée législative avant la rencontre des premiers ministres.

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Twitter: @DavidCCoon


Climate Change, Pesticides Shift Lobster Populations North

1 06 2016


Warming waters from climate change off the Atlantic coast are driving lobsters further north than ever before, disrupting fisheries and – for some – perhaps changing a way of life forever.

While the southern New England lobster fishery has all but collapsed, fishers in Maine, Prince Edward Island and even further north are benefiting from the crustaceans’ movement.

“I’ve seen enough of the charts to say the water’s warming, and if that’s climate change, it’s happening. It is happening,” says Beth Casoni, executive director of the Lobstermen’s Association of Massachusetts.

Casoni estimates some 30 fishers still trap lobster in southern New England, down from hundreds previously. The impacted areas include Southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.

At the same time the lobster fishing in Maine and north has exploded. Maine is seeing historically high landings now, roughly five times higher than it was back in the 1980s and ‘90s.

It’s a similar story in P.E.I., where lobster landings have gone from a low of 17.6 million pounds in 1997 to a high of 29.7 million pounds in 2014.

Off of Nova Scotia, fishers are calling the 2015-2016 season one of the best in the last decade and estimate the lobster catch at 75 million pounds.

There have even been reports of fishers trying to secure lobster fishing licences in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence off of Quebec and Labrador – a cold-water region which previously hasn’t supported a lobster fishery.

Fisheries scientist Richard Wahle attributes the collapse of the southern New England lobster fishery to climate change and points to previous mass die-offs in Long Island Sound as a result of extreme warm temperatures.

During 1999 to 2000, the Long Island Sound die-off resulted in a 75 per cent drop in lobster landings.

“It’s important to take it all in,” Wahle says, “because when you look to the southern end of the species’ range, that’s where we see some signs of trouble. Those areas which have historically been at the southern end of the species range have really been seeing a collapse of the fishery.

“There are pretty strong signs they are related to climate warming: ocean warming, the onset of diseases like shell disease.”

Richard Wahle. Photo from Richard Wahle

Wahle leads a lab named after him at the University of Maine and is one of the leading experts on lobster population trends and settlement.

A 2015 paper Wahle co-authored in ICES Journal of Marine Science noted southern New England’s summer water temperatures surpassed a long-recognized 20 degree Celsius physiological threshold, causing the lobsters to shift north.

That creates a “scenario whereby coastal southern New England will no longer be a hospitable nursery to the American lobster in the coming decades,” the researchers wrote.

“You’ve got to think of it not so much as a case of lobsters are packing their tents and moving north, as much as they’re more successfully repopulating every year in the northern locations relative to the southern location,” Wahle says.

Every year lobsters produce eggs which hatch as larvae. The larvae spread out over large distances, ranging over hundreds of kilometres. As they settle into their nursery habitat along the coast, their survival is higher in the northern waters now.

The larvae are surviving in areas such as the Bay of Fundy, which historically has been colder than what is comfortable for the crustaceans. According to Wahle, in the south the nursery habitat is moving away from the warmer shore water and into somewhat deeper water.

But offshore the habitat isn’t as good, without the rocks for shelter they would find closer to shore.

A Wahle Lab film about lobster larvae. Video from YouTube

In the Gulf of Maine, since 1980 the temperatures have been rising on average at the rate of one degree Celsius every 40 years. But in the last decade that’s changed. Consistent with global warming, the temperatures are now increasing at a rate of one degree about every four years.

As the temperatures rise, so do the incidences of shell disease. Wahle describes the latter as a “nasty looking disease” with dramatic effects on the lobster’s exoskeleton. It’s a bacterial infection that dissolves the shell, pitting it and rendering the lobster unpalatable for sale.

In its most severe forms, the disease can cause blindness, prevent the lobster from molting – when it sheds its exoskeleton – and interfere with its hormonal system. In the latter case, the disease causes the molt to occur right when it shouldn’t. For example, an egg-bearing female might suddenly cast off its skeleton, taking the eggs with it.

The disease is present in some 30 per cent of the harvestable size lobster caught in southern New England, Wahle says.

Malin Pinsky, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in New Jersey, calls the northward movement of lobsters over the last five decades dramatic. In that period of time, the crustaceans has shifted more than 273 kilometres northward.

Pinksy studies how climate change impacts coastal marine species and fisheries. “We’re seeing these kinds of effects across a wide range of marine animals, everything from fish to crabs to lobsters.”

The environmental and economic movements of the northern migration doesn’t only have evnrionmental and economic impacts. It could also affect international relations, Pinsky said.

He pointed to the so-called mackerel wars of 2010 to 2014. Those took place between a number of European Union countries and Iceland after warming waters sent the mackerel closer to Iceland in search of more hospitable temperatures.

A spat over the fish and fishing boundary disputes led to trade sanctions, tariffs and other economic measures.

Climate change or pesticides?

Robert Bayer isn’t as certain that climate change is effecting the lobsters. Bayer is a professor of animal and invertebrate science at the University of Maine and executive director of the Lobster Institute, a U.S.- Canada group that carries out research and education.

Bayer contends that the collapse of the industry south of Cape Cod may be partially caused from temperature changes. But he says if you look at a map, that’s where the megalopolis of all the major cites are grouped together and that pesticide run-off from lawns, golf courses and roads are a likely culprit.

“I think that’s probably just as important as climate change, water temperatures.”

But Wahle doesn’t buy that theory. “I think the jury’s still out on that,” he says.

While Wahle says the link in temperature is circumstantial, he calls it “strongly circumstantial” noting strong correlations between prevalence of the shellfish disease and the temperature.

Wahle says pesticides may be a factor and that many are hormone disrupters, but he asks why in New England did shell disease suddenly appear in 1997, going from almost nothing to impacting 30 per cent of the catch.

“I’m not aware of any evidence that pesticides started to become more widely used at that time, but we do know that it [shell disease] came… after eight years of well above average temperatures in Southern New England.”

Oil and gas development another risk for lobster

While the lobster’s migration north might be a good thing for Canadian fishers, if climate change doesn’t get the crustacean, oil and gas development just might.

Corridor Resources wants to develop an offshore oil and gas field known as Old Harry, a field approximately 30 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 80 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and partially in Quebec’s waters.

But fisher associations oppose the development. Leonard Leblanc of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fishermen’s Coalition based in Cheticamp, Cape Breton, said Old Harry is a current concern of theirs.

Leblanc says the Gulf is ice-covered most years and in the event of a well blow-out with oil spewing under water, it would be impossible to clean up because the oil would be trapped under the ice. The gulf’s swirling currents would also disperse the oil widely, leaving no area safe from pollution.

Ecojustice and the Sierra Club Canada Foundation have also both protested the development. Sierra Club described the gulf as “too precious to be placed at risk by oil and gas development.”

For its part, Corridor has characterized the risk of a blow-out as low and says the “majority” of the invertebrate fisheries are located 25 kilometres away from the edges of the project area and outside the “Predicted Maximum Extent of Oil Plume Trajectory in Relation to Exploratory Licence 1105.”

Leblanc says the lobster stock is healthy and reproducing at a rate higher than he has ever seen it reproduce.

But it will only remain that way if proper management of the lobster continues. “Lobster can provide for us as long as we take care of it,” Leblanc says. “If we don’t, we’re going to have a major problem.

“We’ve had the collapse of the ground fishery and that really hurt the East coast. I suspect the collapse of the lobster fishery would hurt even more, so we have no choice but to take care of it.”

Canada’s energy superpower status threatened as world shifts off fossil fuel, federal think-tank warns

30 05 2016

At left, an oil pumpjack in operation. At right, the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant in Abu Dhabi. A federal government think-tank is projecting a fairly rapid shift toward renewables.

At left, an oil pumpjack in operation. At right, the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant in Abu Dhabi. A federal government think-tank is projecting a fairly rapid shift toward renewables. (Left: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg, Right: EPA)

Canada’s status as an “energy superpower” is under threat because the global dominance of fossil fuels could wane faster than previously believed, according to a draft report from a federal government think-tank obtained by CBC News.

“It is increasingly plausible to foresee a future in which cheap renewable electricity becomes the world’s primary power source and fossil fuels are relegated to a minority status,” reads the conclusion of the 32-page document, produced by Policy Horizons Canada.

The little-known government organization provides medium-term policy advice to the federal bureaucracy, specializing in forecasts that peer a decade or two into the future.

The document was obtained by CBC News under an access to information request and shared with two experts — one in Alberta, one in British Columbia — who study the energy industry.

Both experts described its forecasts for global energy markets as more or less in line with what a growing number of analysts believe.

“It’s absolutely not pie in the sky,” said Michal Moore from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. “These folks are being realistic — they may not be popular, but they’re being realistic.”

Marty Reed, CEO of Evok Innovations — a Vancouver-based cleantech fund created through a $100-million partnership with Cenovus and Suncor — had a similar take after reading the draft report.

“You could nit-pick a couple of items,” he said. “But at a high level, I would say the vast, vast majority of what they wrote is not even controversial, it’s very well accepted.”

Caution advised in long-term pipeline investments

Given the time frames of a decade or more in the report’s forecasts, its language is couched heavily in “ifs” and “coulds.”

Its overall conclusion, however, urges caution when it comes to long-term investments in pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure.

Such investments “could be at high risk of becoming economically unviable as prices in renewable electricity further decline,” it warns.

“At a minimum, this plausible future would suggest that governments ensure that the risks of further investments in oil and gas infrastructure be borne by private interests rather than taxpayers,” the report reads.

Renewables to become cheaper than fossil fuels

At the core of the report’s forecasts is a growing number of indicators that suggest growth in the world’s demand for electricity — particularly renewable-based electricity — will outpace other energy types, while the costs of its production and storage fall faster than previously believed.

The demand is expected to be driven largely by the emerging and rapidly urbanizing middle class in developing countries.

Wind and solar systems have the advantage of being “highly scalable and distributable,” the report states, making them appealing for communities of virtually any size, with or without an existing electrical grid.

Policy Horizons Draft Report

As a result, emerging economies in Latin America and Africa may follow a different development path than the West and “leap-frog” directly to renewables as a primary energy source in a relatively short timeframe.

“Although any individual country may lack the optimal conditions for every type of renewable electricity, all countries are likely to have at least one or more options to produce electricity from renewables that will be cost comparative or cheaper than generation by fossil fuels,” the report reads.

Reed said that trend is already beginning in some parts of the world.

“We just saw Saudi Arabia award a major solar contract at three cents a kilowatt hour. We just saw Mexico do the same thing … at five cents a kilowatt hour,” he said.

“You can’t bring on a new coal plant or natural gas plant at that price. You sure can’t build a new Site C hydro dam at that price.”

Electric cars to become ‘fully competitive’

Batteries and other forms of energy storage technology are also becoming cheaper and more capable, according to the report, making electricity a more versatile option for residential and commercial use — as well as for transportation.

The report states Tesla Motors has been producing lithium-ion batteries for both cars and homes at a cost of roughly $300 US per kWh, a price point the International Energy Agency previously predicted wouldn’t be possible until the year 2020.

“Battery manufacturers in Asia are building battery factories at similar scales to Tesla’s Gigafactory that will triple battery production by 2020,” the report continues.

“These economies of scale are expected to further reduce the cost of batteries to $150 US per kWh by 2020. At this price point, electric vehicles will become fully competitive with those powered by internal combustion engines.”

Tesla Marty Reed

From his vantage point, Reed said the shift in the automotive market is already apparent and the pace of change is only likely to accelerate.

“You’re seeing literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars being invested by the automakers into electric vehicles,” he said.

“The Chevy Bolt came out this year and it’s got a 200-mile [320 km] range at a price point below $40,000. Tesla is the No. 1 selling luxury vehicle in the world now. This is happening.”

Challenges — and innovations — with ‘vast storage’

One criticism Moore had of the report was what he described as a tendency to “gloss over” challenges that still exist with renewable energy on a large scale.

“They just act as though the more renewable energy you build, the more people will use, and the more fossil fuel we’ll take offline, and we’ll all be better off — and it just doesn’t work that way,” the U of C professor said.

“Renewable technologies are not substitutable for fossil technologies one-to-one.”

Due to the intermittent output from solar panels and wind turbines, making a major shift to renewables would require “vast, vast storage technology,” Moore said, which adds to the cost and viability of such a change.

Reed, however, said there are various ways to tackle the problem, and solutions go beyond merely building better batteries.

“You certainly need an energy-dense battery if you want to have a car, but for electrification of the grid, you actually don’t need energy-dense batteries,” he said. “What you need are low-cost energy storage systems that meet the needs of whatever system you’re trying to build.”

As one recent example, he pointed to the Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) project now underway in Nevada.

While a battery uses chemicals to store energy, ARES uses gravity.

The idea involves a network of rail lines built on a grade. On the tracks sit a fleet of train cars carrying heavy loads of rocks and gravel. The cars have electric motors and are connected to an electrical grid powered by wind turbines and solar panels.

When there is a surplus of energy from the grid, the train cars drive up the tracks. When the solar and wind output diminishes, the cars roll back down the hill, their electric motors acting as generators and supplementing the electrical output.

“It’s remarkably simple, inexpensive, and meets the needs,” Reed said of the technology.

Oil could lose ‘commodity status’

All of this doesn’t add up to the end of fossil fuels, according to the report, but it does suggest Canada should rethink the value and applicability of its natural resources as “demand for oil could peak sooner and decline faster than expected.”

One of the more extreme scenarios the report considers is a world in which the supply of fossil fuels exceeds demand for an extended period of time, which the authors say could lead to a loss of “commodity status” for oil, coal and natural gas.

“Rather than being price-takers from suppliers, consumer countries could become price-makers on different sources of oil as suppliers adjust pricing to maintain share of a diminishing and more discriminating marketplace,” the report states.

“Embodied carbon in the production of the fuel will likely be the first discriminator to be widely adopted.”

In other words, fossil fuels that produce more greenhouse gases in the extraction process may fetch a lower price, as buyers become willing to pay a premium for lower-emission grades.

This scenario was one point in the report that both Moore and Reed found implausible.

“I think that was a bit of a stretch,” said Reed.

“I see no evidence to support this notion that it’ll be bifurcated by environmental criteria. Consumer behaviour doesn’t lend itself this way.”

Moore said he can’t see that “happening any time soon,” as no market mechanism exists to attach these kinds of attributes to fossil fuels.

New minerals to be of strategic value

Moore did agree with the report’s forecast that oil will begin to be supplanted by natural resources of even higher value.

Those include lithium, rare earth metals and other key minerals required to produce batteries, photovoltaic cells and electric motors.

Rare Earths Michal Moore

The document notes Canada is lacking in such minerals, while Bolivia, Argentina and Chile hold some of the largest lithium reserves, and China and Brazil have nearly 60 per cent of the known reserves of rare earth metals.

The report even warns of the potential emergence of new cartels that could manipulate the market price of these valuable minerals.

“You’re likely to see some pretty big battles fought over rare earths,” said Moore, who noted Canada may have undiscovered reserves of its own.

‘Some oil is likely to remain in the ground’

While its relative value as an energy source may diminish, the report acknowledges oil “will still be a significant component of the global energy mix, at least in the near future.”

It says that “some oil is likely to remain in the ground,” but opportunities still exist for Canada to extract and sell petroleum from oilsands deposits, even under the extreme scenario of the market splintering oil into grades based on its relative carbon footprint.

Actual greenhouse-gas outputs of some Canadian oil resources “are lower than international reputation would suggest,” the report notes, making its viability as much a matter of marketing as technology.

Regardless of what happens in the energy sector, Reed expects oil will still be in demand for other purposes.

“Non-transportation uses of petroleum are growing quite rapidly,” he said, noting Alberta may be particularly well positioned to expand into the production of specialty agriculture chemicals that are derived from oil.

Moore said everything from asphalt to plastics to paraffin wax will guarantee a market, of some type, for petroleum, for decades to come.

“We’re going to need hydrocarbons for a long, long, long time into the future — just not necessarily as a primary fuel source.”

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Bay of Fundy tides could generate enough power for all of Atlantic Canada?

30 05 2016

Several projects are hoping to finally unlock the energy of the strongest tides in the world

By Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press Posted: May 30, 2016 11:16 AM AT Last Updated: May 30, 2016 11:16 AM AT

The currents in the Bay of Fundy would easily generate enough power for all of Atlantic Canada's needs, but are too monstrously strong to be tamed — at least, fingers crossed, until now.

The currents in the Bay of Fundy would easily generate enough power for all of Atlantic Canada’s needs, but are too monstrously strong to be tamed — at least, fingers crossed, until now. (The Canadian Press)

They flank the bay that is home to the highest and strongest tides in the world, but for hundreds of years Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have struggled to channel the awesome might of the Bay of Fundy into tidal power.

Aspiring entrepreneurs have tried everything from mill wheels in the 1600s to turbines in the 2000s, only to have their hopes dashed and devices casually battered to smithereens by the water’s crushing force.

There has been limited success. In 1984, a form of hydroelectric dam—called a barrage—was built at Annapolis Royal, N.S. The 20-megawatt plant is one of only three tidal power plants in the world.

Time for the tide to turn

However, the next generation of projects is set to launch and onlookers say it’s time for the tide to turn.

“It’s happening in Europe and it’s happening here at the same time in the Bay of Fundy,” said Stephen Dempsey, executive director of the Offshore Energy Research Association, in an interview.

Dempsey says an international push to produce electricity without increasing carbon emissions has come as land-based wind energy projects are harder to develop, making tidal energy the new frontier in renewable energy.

He says engineers around the world are poised to learn from and overcome the obstacles revealed in 2009, after OpenHydro and Nova Scotia Power deployed a one-megawatt turbine in Minas Passage to capture the powerful instream flow of the tides.

The speed and power of the water was so massive during that pilot project that the 12 two-metre blades were snapped off the 400-tonne turbine which resembled a giant aircraft engine until the tides took their toll.

Harnessing 14 billion tonnes of water

Matt Lumley of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) describes the flow of water entering Minas Passage—where the FORCE site is located—like someone tightening their fingers on the end of a garden hose.

“The coastline pinches in to about five kilometres across and the water speeds up, and you’ve got about 14 billion tonnes of water moving over five metres a second,” he said.

In short, the currents would easily generate enough power for all of Atlantic Canada’s needs, but are too monstrously strong to be tamed—at least, fingers crossed, until now.

Cape Sharp Tidal, a partnership of OpenHydro and Emera, is betting on two towering turbines that will be installed starting in June. The two-megawatt turbines are 16 metres in diameter and each weigh 1,000 tonnes.

Sarah Dawson, the project’s community relations manager, says they’re poised to capture the clean, renewable and regular source of energy as the tides come into the Bay of Fundy and back out twice a day.

More robust design

She said the new turbines are much more robust version of the 2009 design that was so badly battered.

“The strength of the tides there required a re-engineering, which is why this one is bigger and heavier and we’re confident it will withstand the tides,” she said.

Once in place, the turbines will be connected to Nova Scotia’s power grid, and are expected to provide enough electricity for about 1,000 homes.

Meanwhile, Black Rock Tidal Power Inc., is preparing to install its TRITON S40, which uses 40 smaller turbines, each about four metres in diameter and designed specifically to survive the forces in the Bay of Fundy.

DP Energy and Minas Energy also have rights to berths at the FORCE site and access to the underwater power cable.

While most of the development is happening on the Nova Scotia side of the bay, New Brunswick’s minister of economic development is hoping his province can benefit as well.

Rick Doucet says the deep-water, ice-free port in Saint John is an ideal location for staging, construction and shipping of the equipment out to the sites.

He’s announced that a tidal power summit will be held in Saint John on June 27 to discuss the state of the developing industry.

“We’re talking about opportunities that are right on our doorstep,” he said. “What can we do to make this industry grow?”

Fishermen have concerns

The rush towards growth doesn’t sit well with some area fishermen who want all activity put on hold until they have assurances that marine life is safe, and that they won’t be pushed off their fishing grounds.

“We’ve never been consulted on this,” said Chris Hudson, president of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association.

Hudson said fish stocks have been hurt by the tidal project in Annapolis Royal and he worries more damage will be done to halibut, herring and lobster breeding when turbines are installed in the bay.

He said the association has launched a petition and begun raising money in case a legal effort is needed to halt the deployment of the turbines.

“Fishermen have been using this bottom for 100 years or more, and then somebody comes into your backyard and says, ‘Nope, sorry, you’re done and we’re going to do our thing now.’ It makes me mad just thinking about it.”

Lumley said FORCE and the developers are conducting studies to ensure the ecosystem is not harmed.

Meanwhile, he’s also noting that the potential for this energy source has turned out to be more than once imagined.

He said initial estimates for the potential of the Minas Passage site put it at around 300 megawatts, about 10 per cent of Nova Scotia’s peak electricity demand.

“But once we actually got into the bay and started to collect some field data…that number went up significantly to about 7,000 megawatts of power. That is equivalent roughly to all of the needs of Atlantic Canada or about three million homes,” he said.

From Jim Emberger, spokesperson for NBASGA on Indefinite Moratorium

30 05 2016

From Jim Emberger, spokesperson for NBASGA, brad…

Hello Friends and Allies, (Please pass this along to your group members and friends.)

Attached is NBASGA’s official Press Statement on the extended moratorium.  There are just so many people from every corner of the province, every walk of life, every ethnic background, indigenous people and settlers who made this possible that it is an impossible task to list them.  The cast of heroes has changed constantly over the last six years from those who were lonely voices in the beginning, to the organizers of the movement, to the demonstrators, to those putting themselves in harms way – the writers, the speakers, the donators of money, food, expertise – those who showed up when called, for whatever needed to be done.

This campaign has shown how democracy should work, and that it possible for citizens to band together to advance their will and protect themselves, their neighbors and the earth. It should not have taken such a herculean effort, but now that we know that it can be done, and how it can be done, the next time should be easier – because their always will be a next time.

But for now, we should celebrate the saving of our province and congratulate ourselves on an effort whose success was undoubtedly a surprise to the powers-that-be everywhere.

Below are some congratulatory emails from our friends and allies:

  • Yes!! Congrats to all of you. Another significant win for truth, i will always remember my visit to NB and please give my best to all my friends there.  Best, Tony Ingraffea
  • This is fabulous news — and very timely, since Chris is right now putting the new show together. We’ll incorporate this in the script.  Congratulations! You guys have done a fabulous job. We’ve used the NB story, essentially as-is, in the new film too.   Cheers,  Silver Don Cameron  (Documentary filmmaker who featured our struggle in  the “Defenders of the Dawn”.)
  • That’s great news.  Well done!   All best,    Naomi Oreskes    (Dr. Orsekes was to be our expert witness on climate change)

And from those around the world with whom we have been in touch.

  • Thanks for this excellent news and congratulations to the anti-fracking movement in NB.  I think the 5 conditions could be a useful model for others, as well as the 4 achievements of the government/state policy demanded before any  exploitation could ever start (in Europe we could replace First Nations by local communities). 

Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart     Fundacja Strefa Zieleni (Green Zone Foundation)    Poland

  • Congratulation !!!  Buenas noticias para New Bruswick, Canadá. Moratori shale gas por siempre.  (Good news for New Bruswick , Canada. Moratori shale gas forever.)  cooperacionxterritorioslibresfracking
  • Congratulations,  This is such good news.  I had the pleasure of taking a vacation several years ago,on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.   Sandra Kissam,  President,  Stewart Park and Reserve Coalition  Blooming Grove, NY
  • Wonderful!   Thanks for sharing.   Mary Gutierrez,  Executive Director  Earth Ethics, Inc.
  • Thats Brilliant News Jim, Congratulations from all at Frack Free Lancashire.   Jas Singh

This next and last quote is from a person in Yorkshire, UK, where the government has just given the OK for shale licenses.  They are where we were 6 years ago.  Kathyrn, the writer, had asked me to send an email to their paper – The Yorkshire Post – which I did (the day before the moratorium extension), and they did a news article from it.  So it is additionally gratifying that we are able to help those in other places with our experiences.

If you would like to read the UK article:

  • Thank you !!! God bless you.  There is great fury and stirrings of public dissent here following the decision. Yorkshire groups are taking legal advice over judicial review. Now it seems that the government is withholding a report by the Committee on Climate Change that says that fracking will ruin the environment. Thanks for your support! With best wishes, Kathryn


Good wishes to all,  Jim

Jim Emberger, Spokesperson

New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

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30 05 2016

NBASGA says it’s a good day for activists, for New Brunswick and for the planet

FREDERICTON, NB (27 May 2016) – The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance is gratified and very much relieved by the government’s announcement of the indefinite continuance of the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. This is a good day for us, for New Brunswick and the planet.   We see this as evidence of what we hope is a building sea change in the manner that governments approach issues that have significant impacts on local populations.

Within Minister Arsenault’s official statement, we see the hallmarks of the problems we have raised from Day One, and we are gratified that the immense effort put forth by the many groups and thousands of volunteers and supporters from the Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous communities who have brought these issues to the forefront and kept them in the public eye. And we are thankful that our concerns – which have been repeatedly validated by independent research – have fallen on receptive government ears.

It is good for everyone when the government and the citizenry can agree on what constitutes reality.

We are also glad the Minister was clear in stating that industry itself had not shown evidence that it can and will meet the conditions set forth when this government took office.  The scientific evidence continues to mount that the many destructive aspects of this industry have not been solved, or in many cases, even addressed.  We assume that any independent regulator will be tasked with assuring that rigorous scientific and public health standards will be applied in any future energy industry endeavour.

We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of the need to work with aboriginal leadership to adopt a consultation process for fracking, as it should be for all industries that impact natural resources. Not only is this right, but it too shows a willingness to deal with reality.

Minister Arsenault’s statement that creating jobs is a priority, but not at any cost, is one that we have made ourselves.   The present – and mounting – crisis of climate change is evidence that it is time to work together towards a cleaner, more sustainable future that benefits the people who actually live here with meaningful work and a vibrant economy.  Clean energy and retrofitting projects will move us into the future and not keep us anchored to a dying industry.

The many groups that make up NBASGA have grown into a strong, respected and reliable voice for sustainability, and we hope that we now have a chance to work with government on the issues that will affect us all in the future.



The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance represents the interests of New Brunswickers opposed to unconventional gas and oil exploration and development, while promoting a future in clean energy alternatives.


Oil sands found to be a leading source of air pollution in North America

26 05 2016

A cloud of noxious particles brewing in the air above the Alberta oil sands is one of the most prolific sources of air pollution in North America, often exceeding the total emissions from Canada’s largest city, federal scientists have discovered.

The finding marks the first time researchers have quantified the role of oil sands operations in generating secondary organic aerosols, a poorly understood class of pollutants that have been linked to a range of adverse health effects.

The result adds to the known impact of the oil sands, including as a source of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. It also comes on the same day that the Bank of Canada delivered a sobering message about the country’s economy, saying the devastating Alberta wildfires that hit Fort McMurray – leading to production cuts in the oil industry and the destruction of thousands of buildings – will cause a drop in Canada’s gross domestic product in the second quarter.

Given the economic circumstances and the political sensitivities currently surrounding the oil sands, the air pollutant study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, offered the strongest test yet of the Trudeau government’s promise to allow scientists in federal labs to speak freely with journalists about their results.

The pollutants the scientist measured are minute particles that are created when chemical-laden vapours from the mining and processing of bitumen react with oxygen in the atmosphere and are transformed into solids that can drift on the wind for days.

While researchers have long thought that the oil sands must be a source of such particles, the new results show that their impact on air quality is significant and of potential concern to communities that are downwind.

“It’s another aspect that can and probably should be considered” in assessing the oil sands’ environmental footprint, said John Liggio, an atmospheric chemist with Environment and Climate Change Canada and lead author of the study.

Using an aircraft bristling with sophisticated sensors, Dr. Liggio and his colleagues flew back and forth repeatedly through the largely invisible plume of emissions that extends from the oil sands in order to record the concentrations of a wide range of pollutants. The measurements were made in the summer of 2013, and gathered during nearly 100 hours of flying time over the oil sands and adjacent boreal forest.

“It’s not for the faint of heart – or stomach,” Dr. Liggio said of the low-level flights he and his colleagues endured during the study.

The airborne data, supported by further work with computer models and laboratory experiments, show that 45 to 84 tonnes of secondary organic aerosols are formed by the oil sands a day. By comparison, Canada’s largest urban area, which includes Toronto and surrounding municipalities, generates 67 tonnes a day, much of it derived from car and truck exhaust.

“The take-away is that there’s more that’s emitted into the atmosphere than we’ve fully appreciated,” said Jeffrey Brook, an air-quality researcher with Environment and Climate Change Canada who participated in the oil sands study.

In 2014, the federal and provincial governments jointly issued standards for long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter. The emissions of secondary organic aerosols measured from the oil sands do not appear to exceed those long-term standards, but they do suggest that people living within reach of the emissions are experiencing elevated levels of fine particles in the air they breathe.

Scientists are still trying to understand the complex health effects those particles can trigger when inhaled, but they have been linked in previous studies to lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The oil sands aerosols are also similar in abundance to those that U.S. researchers recorded rising from the massive oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon drilling-rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

“However, the oil spill lasted a few months. The Alberta oil sand operations are an ongoing industrial activity,” said Joost de Gouw, a research physicist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the oil spill measurements.

Dr. de Gouw called the Canadian team’s work “convincing,” and added that air-quality researchers were becoming increasingly interested in the formation and effects of secondary organic aerosols, which constitute a growing fraction of the air pollution generated in North America and Europe from industrial sources as sulphur emissions decrease.

Terry Abel, the director of oil sands at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the new study will help the energy industry better understand the origins of the particles.

“We already know there are particles in the atmosphere. This is about where did they actually come from and how were they formed,” he said in an interview. “If we’re seeing a particular effect from particulate matter, this now gives us some clue as to what we would need to do to reduce those emissions or mitigate [them].”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s government says it supports the oil sands industry and argues that the province will have an advantage if it can better prove it takes environmental side effects seriously.

The Nature study is one of the most high-profile scientific papers to come out of Environment Canada’s air-quality research division in some years. Dr. Liggio and his colleagues responded directly to questions from The Globe and Mail without a lengthy waiting period for permission to conduct interviews and without government officials monitoring their calls. Such practices were routine under the former Conservative government whenever journalists asked to speak with federal scientists about their published research.

With a report from Carrie Tait

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Stop the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline in BC

19 05 2016


Just hours ago, the Harper-appointed National Energy Board (NEB) gave their conditional approval to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Add your name now to stop the Kinder Morgan expansion.

I am not surprised the NEB made this decision, because they never have and never will be experts in environmental assessment. This should not have been their responsibility, but thanks to Harper’s omnibus budget bill C38, they were given the power to lead this review.

In no way is this pipeline project in the best interest of Canadians. It will only create about 50 permanent full-time jobs, it will threaten some of our most fragile ecosystems including the Burrard Inlet and Jasper National Park, and over sixteen local First Nations have voiced their strong opposition to the expansion.

Even UNIFOR, one of Canada’s biggest labour unions, has come out in opposition to the expansion, because they know that exporting raw bitumen means exporting Canadian jobs.

Plain and simple, this project is not worth the risk. Let Prime Minister Trudeau know Kinder Morgan’s expansion can not be approved.

Now that the NEB has had their say, it is up to the federal cabinet to determine Kinder Morgan’s future.

Before Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet make their decision, make sure they hear your voice.

Here’s the link:

Keep up the hard work,


Paul Gregory
Director of Outreach
Green Party of Canada

Historic Victory: 4 Teenagers Win in Massachusetts Climate Change Lawsuit

18 05 2016

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of four youth plaintiffs, the Conservation Law Foundation and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance Tuesday in the critical climate change case, Kain et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).


Kain v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection hearing on Jan. 8.

The court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and ordered the agency to “promulgate regulations that address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released … and set limits that decline on an annual basis.”

“This is an historic victory for young generations advocating for changes to be made by government. The global climate change crisis is a threat to the well being of humanity, and to my generation, that has been ignored for too long,” youth plaintiff Shamus Miller, age 17, said.

“Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has recognized the scope and urgency of that threat and acknowledges the need for immediate action to help slow the progression of climate change. There is much more to be done both nationally and internationally but this victory is a step in the right direction and I hope that future efforts have similar success.”

In 2012, hundreds of youth petitioned the DEP asking the agency to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and adopt rules reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, but that petition was denied. As a result of DEP’s reluctance to comply with the GWSA, youth filed this case arguing that the DEP failed to promulgate the regulations required by Section 3(d) of the GWSA establishing declining annual levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Massachusetts is not on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goal of 25 percent below 1990 levels—a fact that is directly related to DEP’s failure to issue the required regulations. The plaintiffs are working to ensure that Massachusetts is complying with the law and doing everything necessary to protect their constitutional and public trust rights to clean air, a healthy atmosphere and a stable climate system.

“In agreeing with the youth plaintiffs in this case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court joins growing global judicial recognition of youth’s rights to demand that their governments act in accordance with the urgency of the climate change crisis,” Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children’s Trust, said.

“Youth around the country and internationally are bringing their governments to court to secure their rights to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court called Massachusetts to task and underscored the need to take significant action now, so youth are not unfairly consigned to a disproportionately bleak future should we fail to address the most important and time sensitive issue of our time.”

This win follows two other recent landmark wins in youth-led lawsuits against the federal government and the state of Washington.

Watch Eshe Sherley explain why she was involved in this lawsuit: