Two Current Environmental Issues and Identifying the Source of Pollution

Posted by on Nov 7, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Environmental or legislative issues, and any level of approval they may enjoy, will vary based on geography, industry, and a variety of other factors.  Cases in point, Bill C-69 and algal blooms.

Officially, Bill C-69 goes by the not-so-short title, “An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.”

How will Bill C-69 impact companies in Alberta to extract natural resources?

How will Bill C-69 impact the ability of companies in Alberta to extract and move natural resources to market?

Opposition to Bill C-69

Not everyone is “a fan” of Bill C-69, especially in Alberta.  Despite its passage through the House of Commons on June 20, 2018, several groups are vigorously campaigning to kill Bill C-69 in Canada’s Senate.  One of these groups is “Suits & Boots.”   The mission of “Suits & Boots” is to “…support and defend Canada’s resource industry workers and their families.”  Suits & Boots members have been very active in their efforts stop Bill C-69.  If you go on the social media outlet, Twitter, and type in the hashtag #KillBillC69, you will find a lot of opinions on this issue.

At the crux of the issue, as you might guess, is the potential impact of Bill C-69 on Alberta’s oil industry.  Among the concerns are an onerous environmental review process that could delay projects and discourage outside investments.

At a recent gathering at the McDougall Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Minister Brian Malkinson said, “I think everyone in the crowd believes Bill C-69 is problematic to Alberta’s oil industry, and our government has been clear, changes need to be made to it, that’s why we’re sending two of our cabinet ministers to Ottawa to speak specifically to the Senate for the changes Alberta needs to make sure this makes sense for Alberta’s oil industry.”

Unusual Opposition Alliance

Although for different reason, others, including Jason MacLean, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, are opposed to Bill C-69.  Jason MacLean does not believe the bill goes far enough to address climate change.  According to MacLean, “Bill C-69 does allow the government to continue approving projects like the Trans Mountain (pipeline) that undermine our efforts to reduce GHG emission and transition to a decarbonized economy.”

The political efforts to “Kill Bill C-69” will be worth watching as the result, one way or the other, will have an impact beyond the oil industry.

More Algal Blooms

The controversy with respect to algal blooms is typically around the issues of (1) who is responsible, (2) how do you prove it, and (3) how do you fix it?

While not often in the news, algal blooms shutting down water supplies gets a lot of attention, which happened in Toledo, Ohio, in 2014.  Nutrient loading in lakes and rivers and subsequent algal blooms are still significant environmental issues around the globe.

Cyanobacteria in Kakakiwaganda Lake

The recent algal bloom and positive test results for cyanobacteria in Kakakiwaganda Lake, south of Sudbury, is evidence of the widespread issue of nutrient loading.  Regardless of their sources, excess nutrients can be a serious problem, especially when cyanobacteria are found.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “Freshwater cyanobacterial blooms that produce highly potent cyanotoxins are known as cyanobacterial [Harmful Algal Blooms] HABs (cyanoHABs).”  The presence of cyanotoxins is a serious concern for humans and animals.  Finding the source(s) of nutrient loading to Kakakiwaganda Lake will be important to avoid a recurrence in 2019.

While there continues to be a focus on water-quality issues, especially as they relate to non-point source impacts and nutrient loading, solutions remain elusive.  Expect the issue of nutrient loading to return to the news when temperatures warm up and spring runoff begins.

Identifying the Source

When it comes to identifying the source(s) of pollutants such as nitrates, as well as other pollutants, there are at least a couple of challenges.  First, you have to clearly identify the source(s).  In many cases, this will require the use of advanced scientific tools.  Second is providing this scientific proof to regulators or the court in a clear and concise manner.  Dragun’s expertise in isotopic tracers has been helpful in defending our clients’ position before regulators and the court (see Legacy nitrate webinar).  Also, if you are addressing more common pollutants such as gasoline, we can use isotopes, as well as chemical ratios, to help identify the source/responsible party (see Environmental Forensics).

What environmental issue are you struggling with?  From basic permits and plans to complex issues involving groundwater and vapour intrusion, we can help.  If you have any questions or need help with an environmental issue, you can reach me at 519-979-7300, Ext. 134.