Dec. 1 ’20 Wood pellets vs. forests, celebrating the 30 year victory over Jumbo ski resort

Conservation North activists in Prince George have a clear message.
Michelle Connolly explains issues with logging primary hemlock forests for wood pellet biomass energy exports.

We’ve been hearing about a new forestry industry that’s been growing fast in BC: wood pellets. A good way to use up waste wood and slash and make it economic biomass, we are told.  But new research shows whole trees, even forests could be turned into fuel that’s at least as dirty as coal. We reached Michelle Connolly from Conservation North in Prince George to talk about the new wood pellet businesses… two of which operate near Prince George.

The Jumbo Creek Conservation Society in Invermere is celebrating and talking about winding down, now that the Jumbo Pass is safe from intensive real estate development.  We talk with Jim Galloway from Briscoe, BC, just north of Invermere, about it.  Jim campaigned against the Jumbo ski resort plan for nearly 30 years, and host Keith Wiley met him up in the Jumbo Valley in the fall of 2014.

Nelson City Council could be adopting a new climate plan this week, and it looks pretty good.

Listen or download the show here:

The EcoCentric Environment News Dec. 1, 2020

Long-time West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy is back in the BC government cabinet, but now as minister of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resources.

The mandate letter she received says she is supposed to lead the transition of our forestry sector from high-volume to high-value production, by making mass timber a priority in public buildings.

She is also supposed to implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review in collaboration with Indigenous leaders, labour, industry, and environmental groups to protect more oldgrowth stands.

Conroy is also continuing in her role of responsibility for the Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Power Corporation, and lead negotiations regarding the Columbia River Treaty.

She has a big job. Fortunately, new MLA Nathan Cullen has been appointed to assist as

Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations


In yet another attempt to block construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, pipeline opponents have built a 25-metre high tree house located on the pipeline’s construction route.

The treehouse is located near the top of a tall cottonwood tree, at the Holmes Creek Resistance Camp, which is a forested area southeast of where the Trans-Canada Highway intersects with North Road in Burnaby.

The announcement of the treehouse protest plans comes a day after activists blocked railway tracks in Burnaby against the same pipeline.


Yesterday, the Liberal government in Ottawa released a Fall Economic Statement, which turned out primarily to be an update on how much money the government is spending to try to hold the country together during the pandemic.  With very few details, Finance Minister Chrystia   Freeland also looked ahead to rebuilding the economy better.  The proposed stimulus package talks about a green economy, but the immediate moves are very small stuff, grants to help homeowners make energy efficient retrofits and building more zero-emission vehicle charging stations across the country.   They are also funding small, modular nuclear reactor development, a move that environmentalists from David Suzuki on down say is a dangerous waste of time.  The Green New Deal that many have been looking for, still is far from getting on to the table.


A small, Saskatoon-based company has drilled and fracked the world’s first 90-degree horizontal well for geothermal power in a potentially landmark move that signals the arrival of a new energy source in Canada and provides fresh opportunities for oil and gas workers to apply their skills in renewable power.

No company in Canada has produced electricity from geothermal heat, but Deep Energy’s 3 kilometer deep well can produce steaming-hot water and brine with a temperature of 127 degrees centigrade at a rate of 100 litres per second. The well is capable of producing 3 megawatts of renewable, reliable electricity, enough to power 3,000 homes.

The well will form part of a larger 20MW geothermal power project, which is expected to commence construction in 2023 in southern Saskatchewan close to the U.S. border.


The Nelson Star reports that a company is set to start producing Renewable Natural Gas by cooking wood waste at an about to be built Fruitvale plant.  The company, REN Energy says the gasification process is environmentally sound and is a totally self contained process.

Once operational, the technology will create a use for forestry waste in B.C. and unlock the potential for significant new volumes of RNG in the province.


FedEx started delivering packages in downtown Toronto using e-bikes over the summer and is now looking to expand the program to other cities in Canada.

Purolator and two smaller courier companies are part of a similar pilot called Project Colibri that launched in Montreal last year. Purolator has since expanded its bike fleet from one e-bike to six or seven, and Project Colibri has ramped up to 5,000 e-bike deliveries a week 

Transportation is already the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, after oil and gas, accounting for 25 per cent.

In the growing area of shopping deliveries, the “Last-mile” refers to the last leg of the delivery from a sorting centre to the customer. It’s an expensive and challenging step that can be up to 30 to 60 per cent of the cost of delivery and its where bikes shine.


The B.C. Oil and Gas Commision is reporting an increase of oil and gas wells being designated as orphan status. In a presentation made to the Peace River Regional District Board, on Thursday, the number of orphan sites has increased from 357 in 2019 to 770 in 2020.

An orphan designation is given by the Commission to wells and facilities, and associated operating areas when the operator is insolvent or can’t be located.


Liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects are struggling around the world with low gas prices, the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The year may end with no new projects in the United States receiving investor approval. S&P Global Market Intelligence reports, in a story republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) that “Worldwide, there could be just one LNG export project that advances to that stage in 2020, with Sempra Energy’s recent decision to greenlight its Energía Costa Azul terminal in Baja California,” Mexico.

“Weak global demand and market conditions have stalled the second wave of LNG projects, and very few projects will take FID [final investment decisions] without a sustained price recovery,” RBN Energy President David Braziel told an event earlier this month.


Canadians will be able to qualify for grants of up to $5,000 for work to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The Home Energy Retrofit program will cost $2.6 billion over 7 years, starting in 2020-21. The funding also will cover the cost of providing one million free EnerGuide efficiency assessments and pay for the recruiting and training of auditors to perform the work.

Details of the plan have yet to be announced but the grants will be retroactive to Dec. 1, 2020.

The federal government is also allocating $150 million over three years to help Natural Resources Canada increase the number of recharging stations that support zero-emission vehicles.


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government says it is about to declare a climate emergency in a symbolic step to increase pressure for action to combat global warming.

The government will put forward a motion to declare the emergency Wednesday.

“We’ve always considered climate change to be a huge threat to our region, and it is something we must take immediate action on,” Ardern said, according to state broadcaster TVNZ.

If a climate emergency is passed, New Zealand would join countries like Canada, France and Britain that have taken the same course to focus efforts on tackling climate change.

Last week, Japanese lawmakers declared a climate emergency and committed to a firm timetable for net-zero emissions.


The European court of human rights has ordered 33 European governments to respond to a landmark climate lawsuit lodged by six youth campaigners, says a report in the Guardian.

In a sign of the urgency of the climate crisis, the court has announced that it will hear the crowdfunded case, which was filed two months ago. It has already confirmed it will be treated as a priority, which means the process will be fast-tracked.

The states – the EU27 plus Norway, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, Turkey and Ukraine – are obliged to respond by 23 February to the complaints of the plaintiffs, who say governments are moving too slowly to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are destabilising the climate.

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