A reminder that there is a Rally today on Monday at 12:10PM, at Room 207, Murphy Community Centre, Charlottetown to protest the end of the Health Accord and call for a New Health Accord. Speakers, open mike, tea and coffee. The Rally is sponsored by the PEI Health Coalition.
I have mentioned before what a gem the monthly magazine Rural Delivery
is (it's found at feed stores and stores with a good selection of good magazines)
published by DvL Publishing in Liverpool, NS. (It published Jack MacAndrew's
article on fracking recently.) It's about "Farm, Country and
Community....Since 1976." http://www.rurallife.ca/
is a look at a recent letter to the editor. There is a lot of information
in it, and I took the liberty of adding a few definitions, some bold and
italic, and spacing, to make it easier (I hope) to read. The headline
from the paper is rather silly.
Published on March 25, 2014
A bit more about changes to Canada Post. (More than a bit more.)
few changes/additions to the events listed yesterday:
Mr. Brian Hurley,
Local Area Manager – PEI
200 Maple Hills Avenue
PEI C1C 0S9
The new rates are:
or visit their splashy but not very helpful website here: The information on rates is on the right hand side of the page.
Well, sorry to end on a grouchy note!
What a busy, but also quiet, couple of days. Hats off to,
among others, the guys working for Island Coastal on the plows and loaders who
are trying to clear out the roads around many small communities.
I am not sure if they are going to extend this exhibit due to things being shut down for part of this week. I hope so. Very thought-provoking images.
Women's Network article
Seniors College Art Exhibit, curated by Marion Copleston and others
Opening Wednesday, April 2nd, 7-9PM, Arts Guild
The show will run from April 2nd to April 12th.
The Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 5PM with extra hours during East Coast Music Week April 2-6
and next weekend:
Vinland Society Lecture, Sunday, April 6th, 7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall)
"A New Vinland Voyage", lecture by Geoff Ralling, about his planned replication of Viking voyages to you-know-where.
Not sure if the Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry meeting scheduled
for noon will be held today -- once the Legislature starts sitting (next week),
MLAs don't have as much time for meetings.
Published on March 26, 2014
We have other options: choices which promise not only to reverse the ills of
the current model but which will forge a future for P.E.I. which is safe,
prosperous and sustainable.
- Peter Bevan-Baker is leader of the Green Party of P.E.I.
different bits of news for a snow day; the good, bad, ugly and interesting.
New PEI Road Atlas and closeup
And, finally, (and this is really interesting, especially for its transparency and invitation for public participation):
Nova Scota struck an expert panel to review all aspects of fracking recently. They are planning to produce a series of papers on many topics. The primer has just come out.
Cape Breton University Independent Panel on Hydraulic Fracturing home page
The primer is available for download at the top of the page, and the address to write to be put on the list for additional sections is towards the bottom of the page. I think any of us qualifies as a interested out-of-province person.
From the website:
Register as a Stakeholder (bold mine)
For anyone interested on keeping up to date on the review process you can:
editorials are from wise Islanders writing in: David MacCallum's thoughtful letter here:
Published on March 24, 2014
We know now the resulting restriction of water flow seriously affects the ecology of river systems, and that very expensive remedial work had to be done to those causeways years later to improve the flushing action. What Mr. Crockett didnʼt mention, though, was that there were many other causeways and bridges with narrow spans built across the Island years ago with the same results. One can only conclude the reasons for installing these structures were mainly political and economic, with little regard for scientific research into the possible environmental consequences. Many of those bridges/causeways have since been remediated to improve water flow (at great cost to the tax payer) — e.g., Vernon Bridge Causeway, South Pinette Causeway and the Cardigan Bridge, to name a few. No doubt there are many more that need to be fixed in the same manner.
Of course, there are other major factors contributing to the deterioration of our rivers and streams such as siltation from heavy rains and runoff from agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. Like Mr. Crockett, I remember going fishing as a boy in my own community of St. Peterʼs Bay. You didnʼt have to go very far back then to find a good spot to cast your line and come home with a nice “gad” of trout. Now, those streams and rivers have either been choked off with weeds and overgrowth, dried up, and/or become anoxic from agricultural runoff and other contaminants. I guess the lesson here is that when you mess with Mother Nature you had better be prepared for the consequences.
A Leadnow local information meeting (Connect Meeting) will be held (tonight!!) at 7 pm, on Tuesday, March 25th, at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown.
"Leadnow is a national
social activist organization that brings generations of Canadians together for
progress through democracy. Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young
people who care about a wide range of issues and wanted to create a new way for
people to participate effectively in our democracy.....Through local gatherings
and online surveys, the Leadnow.ca community has decided to focus its long-term
efforts on strengthening Canada's democracy, doing its part to stop runaway
climate change, and building a fair economy that reverses the trend of growing
inequality. For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364."
Thursday, March 27th, 12noon to 5PM, Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, Coles Building,
next to Province House. In addition to some other agriculture-related
business, there will be several presentations related to the high capacity well
issues, including from the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, and from the
PEI Potato Board, Ag Minister George Webster, and Cavendish Farms.
Next Tuesday, April 1st is a talk at the NaturePEI (Natural History Society of PEI) by aquatic biologist Mike van den Heuvel.The effects of unsustainable land use on our streams, estuaries and coastal environment is the topic for a presentation at the April meeting of Nature PEI. It takes place on Tuesday, April 1st, 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets. Admission to the presentation is free and all are welcome. Mike van den Heuvel is the Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity at UPEI.
Have a great pre-storm day!
has been 25 years today since the Exxon Valdez tanker struck a reef in
Alaska. It spilled at least 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince
March 22, 2014
McALLEN, Texas (AP) - A barge carrying nearly a million gallons of especially thick, sticky oil collided with a ship in Galveston Bay on Saturday, leaking an unknown amount of the fuel into the popular bird habitat as the peak of the migratory shorebird season was approaching.
Booms were brought in to try to contain the spill, which the Coast Guard said was reported at around 12:30 p.m. by the captain of the 585-foot ship, Summer Wind. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Kristopher Kidd said the spill hadn't been contained as of 10 p.m., and that the collision was still being investigated.
The ship collided with a barge carrying 924,000 gallons of marine fuel oil, also known as special bunker, that was being towed by the vessel Miss Susan, the Coast Guard said. It didn't give an estimate of how much fuel had spilled into the bay, but there was a visible sheen of oil at the scene.
Officials believe only one of the barge's tanks was breached, but that tank had a capacity of 168,000 gallons.
"A large amount of that has been discharged," Kidd said. He said a plan was being developed to remove the remaining oil from the barge, but the removal had not begun.
The barge was resting on the bottom of the channel, with part of it submerged. He said boom was being set up in the water to protect environmentally-sensitive areas and that people would be working through the night with infrared cameras to locate and skim the oil.
The barge was being towed from Texas City to Bolivar at the time. The Coast Guard said that Kirby Inland Marine, which owns the tow vessel and barge, was working with it and the Texas General Land Office at the scene.
The Coast Guard said six crew members from the tow vessel were in stable condition, but it offered no details about their injuries.
Jim Suydam, spokesman for the General Land Office, described the type of oil the barge was carrying as "sticky, gooey, thick, tarry stuff."
"That stuff is terrible to have to clean up," he said.
Mild weather and calm water seemed to help containment efforts, but stormy weather was forecast for the area on Sunday. Suydam said almost every private cleanup outfit in the area was out there helping out under the coordination of the Coast Guard and General Land Office.
Bruce Clawson, the director of the Texas City Homeland Security, told The Daily News in Galveston that the barge sank, but that there is no danger to the community, which is about 40 miles southeast of downtown Houston. Suydam said he could not confirm whether the barge sank.
Tara Kilgore, an operations coordinator with Kirby Inland Marine, declined to comment Saturday.
On its Facebook page, Texas City Emergency Management said the dike and all parks on the water are closed until further notice. And the Coast Guard said that part of the Houston ship channel was closed to traffic.
Richard Gibbons, the conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society, said there is very important shorebird habitat on both sides of the Houston ship channel.
Audubon has the internationally-recognized Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary just to the east, which Gibbons said attracts 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds to shallow mud flats that are perfect foraging habitat. He did not know how much oil had been spilled, but said authorities were aware of the sanctuaries and had practiced using containment booms in the past.
"The timing really couldn't be much worse since we're approaching the peak shorebird migration season," Gibbons said. He added that tens of thousands of wintering birds remain in the area.
Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska. Suydam said that spill spurred the creation of the General Land Office's Oil Spill and Prevention Division, which is funded by a tax on imported oil that the state legislature passed after the Valdez spill. The division does extensive response planning including pre-positioned equipment along the Texas coast.
usual (long) Sunday mixture:
Health and safety of Canadians is at risk with latest slashing of Environment Canada budget.
Albert Einstein’s well-known definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is unsettlingly relevant to a new round of federal government cuts. The latest slashing of Environment Canada, which by 2016 will have half the budget it had in 2007, calls to mind a series of deep cuts to environmental protections in Ontario in the late 1990s. Some of the players are even the same, so they cannot reasonably claim to be ignorant of the tragic consequences.
In May 2000, the water system of Walkerton, Ont., suffered an E. coli outbreak that left nearly half the community’s 4,800 people ill. Seven died. In the uproar that followed, a commission of inquiry was struck by the government of Ontario to determine what happened. The resulting report, written by Justice Dennis O’Connor, makes for interesting reading. The Walkerton Public Utilities Commission was blamed for improper operating practices and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment was blamed for providing insufficient oversight.
Underlying the failures of the Walkerton PUC and the MOE, however, were government of Ontario cutbacks. How deep were the cuts? In the years leading up to the Walkerton tragedy, the MOE’s budget was reduced by 68 per cent and its staffing by 40 per cent. These numbers are comparable to what Environment Canada is experiencing today. Consider, for example, that Environment Canada’s climate change and clean air program is having its budget reduced by an astonishing 77 per cent. The cuts are so deep that they appear designed to break Environment Canada once and for all.
O’Connor’s report on the Walkerton tragedy is scathing in its assessment of the provincial government’s role: “Before the decision was made to significantly reduce the MOE’s budget in 1996, senior government officials, ministers and the cabinet received numerous warnings that the impacts could result in increased risks to the environment and human health . . . The decision to proceed with the budget reductions was taken without either an assessment of the risks or the preparation of a risk management plan.”
It is the same with the current cuts to Environment Canada. Since the cuts began in earnest in 2011, scientists have been sounding the alarm. Their warnings have fallen on deaf ears. And, as was the case in Ontario, it appears that the federal government has not assessed the risks. Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, famously sued the federal government in 2012 in an attempt to obtain information on how cuts to government departments would affect programs — including environmental protection. Canadians are still waiting for answers. In the meantime, evidence has emerged that Environment Canada’s capacity to crack down on polluters has been compromised.
It is interesting to note that three members of that Ontario government have played key roles in Stephen Harper’s federal cabinet: Jim Flaherty (the outgoing minister of finance), John Baird (minister of foreign affairs), and Tony Clement (president of the Treasury Board). Flaherty, Baird and Clement were there when Ontario’s cuts were made and witnessed the result. Surely they must see the parallels now. So why haven’t they spoken out about the dismantling of Environment Canada?
Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a key responsibility of the federal government. Investment in environmental protection — Environment Canada’s job — is only prudent. University of Ottawa professor Scott Findlay likens the collection of evidence by federal departments such as Environment Canada to an insurance policy: a comparatively inexpensive yet effective way to ensure others will not have to shoulder the burden of undesired and unanticipated consequences of avoidable mistakes. Cancelling that insurance is quite simply irresponsible.
The cost of the Walkerton tragedy was estimated at the commission to be between $64.5 million and $155 million. It remains to be seen what the cuts to Environment Canada will ultimately cost us — both financially and in human terms.
Thomas J. Duck is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Dalhousie University.
Published on March 21, 2014
If the deep water wells come to pass it could cause irreparable damage to groundwater, do we want to risk it? All the streams that get contaminated every year, and this is ground water, with runoff is sufficient to contend with. Once again, do we want to risk it?
And Saturday's, a Carl Mathis moment, reminding us that smiling is good for us in such absurd times:
Published on March 22, 2014
The solution, without any deep wells, is to get the Food Technology Centre to come up with potato glue, so they can glue fries together to make the longest fry. Whatever the serving size at McDonald's, that would be one long fry. Super size that, and it would be one longer fry. Really biggie that, and build the longest fry.
People would be called back to work as fry gluers. They could work in teams, several people to a fry. The plants could be expanded, adding very long, narrow rooms to have the spaces to glue up these longest fries.
New long fryers would be needed in every fast food restaurant, and they would need new packaging, giving us another industry. The county fairs would have long fry eating contests, announcing how many yards of fries the winner ate.
Share a fry with your sweetie. You start at opposite ends and eat until you
meet at the middle. Mmmmmm.
Carl Mathis, Charlottetown
second Connect Meeting (nationwide groups with local branches working on
Leadnow is launching its 2014-15 Plan and we’re inviting Fair Vote members and other interested parties to join us in the planning process for the leadup to the next federal election. Our current focus is electoral reform. Hear about Leadnow’s current campaigns and how you can help. For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364."
Great to see groups with similar interests working together!!
a good Sunday,
Apparently, the "ad-as-news-story" deal is still on at The Guardian, as evidenced by this story on A4 of Friday's print edition; it was the lead story on-line for most of the day. The story has a "graphic supplied by the P.E.I. Potato Board" graphic, now nicely colourized from their print ad last week and a huge quarter-page in the print edition:
image copyright PEI Potato Board
(There is no by-line for this story, but presumably it was a staff writer....at the Potato Board....)
The P.E.I. Potato Board says itʼs time for the public to move past the history and look at what todayʼs potato growers are doing to protect the environment.
Gary Linkletter, chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board, emphasizes that “potato farmers of today have learned a lot from past challenges and are making tangible changes in production practices in order to farm in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.”
In a news release, Linkletter says P.E.I. farmers have the highest level of enhanced environmental farm planning in Canada and also farm under the most stringent environmental legislation in Canada.
“This means P.E.I. potato growers meet and often exceed both voluntarily developed and regulated standards that are higher than any other farmers in the country,” said Linkletter.
Through collaborative effort between potato growers and the P.E.I. Department
of Agriculture, construction of soil conservation structures has resulted in
1.1 million feet of terraces, 2.1 million feet of grassed waterways and 270,000
feet of farmable berms.
The approaches include use of buffer zones and set aside of sensitive land, nutrient management, strip cropping, crop rotation and residue-tillage equipment, new and lower input potato varieties and integrated pest management.
Another initiative, Farming 4R Island, partners with other industry players to foster beneficial management practices that protect soil quality and reduce nitrate levels.
“Todayʼs grower is looking to be more efficient, more effective and be more environmental responsible. Thatʼs why weʼre interested in supplemental irrigation. The Department of the Environment has indicated that agricultural irrigation accounts for only one per cent of total water usage,” said Linkletter, as he and the potato board continue lobbying for deep-water wells in the province.
“Some preliminary studies performed as part of the nitrate pilot project with
the Kensington North Watershed Group in 2013 showed an 11.5 per cent increase
in income per acre with supplemental irrigation due to increased marketable
yields, while another test from the same study showed a reduction in average
residual nitrate levels by 31.4 per cent. Thatʼs very encouraging information
for people interested in having a viable potato industry while trying to be
even more environmentally responsible.”
the pilot project being done mentioned in the last paragraph? So, can
that study be released for others to review it?
In the letters section were two letters on high capacity wells, and one on pesticides. I'll reprint the other well one tomorrow.
Published on March 21, 2014
In the Guardian editorial of March 12, the editor claims that if irrigation is needed, deep-water wells are the most efficient option. Since opposition to deep-water wells is pervasive and well reasoned, I believe that we need to give serious consideration to other ways of solving the problem such as improving the health of the soil.
In the same editorial, the editor refers to “other provinces or states where opposition to deep water wells is limited.” The reason opposition to deep-water wells may be limited in other places is that P.E.I. faces unique water supply challenges. Because of our soil structure and our dependence on groundwater as the sole supplier of drinking water, our water supply is uniquely fragile. We need to take great caution. And we need to find in our unique challenges incentive to work to improve the health of the soil so that there is an increase in its water-holding capacity.
The editor also says that “the standing committee and government have difficult
tasks ahead as they must decide if compromise is possible to protect our water
resource even if science supports additional deep-water wells . . .” This seems
to imply that “science” supports additional deep-water wells while in fact many
believe that credible scientific data come from peer-reviewed studies. Such
studies regarding the true impact of deep-water wells on aquatic ecosystems
have yet to be done.
Published on March 21, 2014
As a rural inhabitant of P.E.I., I have always been concerned about the rampant
use of pesticides here. So when I recently heard that potatoes would be planted
this year in the field 25 feet from my doorway, I decided to do some research
about what kind of protection is provided for home owners in a situation like
mine. Apparently, absolutely zero is the answer. A quick look at the P.E.I.
Department of Environment Frequently Asked Questions, gave this concise
information on the subject. source: http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment
Joan Diamond is a rural Islander who lives in Fairview
The Department of Environment webpage cited is here and a screenshot is below:
And tonight is a showing of Island Green, 7:30PM in Bonshaw, at the community centre up a bit on the left after you get on Green Road off our infamous Plan B highway. (Gasland II is at 2PM at Duffy Science Building at UPEI, as is an introduction to gardening workshop at 2:30PM at the Farm Centre.)
A bit of a list of some of
the many events going on in the next
Published on February 14, 2014
It brought to mind a raging debate, of years gone by, over the provincial governmentʼs (of that day) decision to replace bridges and build causeways over the North and West rivers.
Avid fishers, hunters and others (my grandfather among them), voiced their strong opposition to the move, citing their great concern that such a move would kill the headwaters of these two important river systems, doing irreparable harm to the ecology of these two watershed areas.
The opposition voiced that the causeways would critically interfere with the tidal flushing of the rivers, flushings that were critical to keeping the headwaters alive and healthy, and by extension fish life and wild life alive and healthy.
The engineers and scientists, of the day, defended the governments move and voiced their ʻstudiedʼ opinions that no such harm would befall these two rivers headwaters, as the designed openings would be sufficient to allow the necessary flushing actions up the rivers.
Decades later it was determined that these headwaters were dead or dying, and something must be done to improve the flushing actions of the tides.
As a result the government of that day, acted to widen the spillway of the
North River at Cornwall, and added a second bridge to the West River causeway,
allowing greater volumes of water to flow with the tidal actions
What I have learned from all of this is that we are limited in our knowledge of things and there is much we (scientists included) have yet to learn and understand about all things. And, contrary to many expert opinions on this matter, nothing is absolute.
The opening statement, to me, is profound, and I say ʻnoʼ to lifting the ban on deep-water wells.
A letter on the high capacity well issue, from last week: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-03-10/article-3643218/Watershed-groups-call-for-extension/1
Published on March 10, 2014
We must pragmatically examine the threats and develop safeguards, including monitoring protocols. Assessment, prevention, response, and recovery are four key elements we must consider in responsible public protection and watershed management. Additionally, a clear mechanism for compensation and liability when harm is done is a duty of law. Let us create a formal dialog that centres on independent, unbiased, factual information that results in fair, safe, and environmentally sound provincial policy and law. We must make certain that long-term public/environmental welfare will not be sacrificed for short-term, commercial-scale profits arising from unsustainable groundwater extraction.
letter, short and observant:
Published on March 17, 2014
According to Steve Townsend of the P.E.I. Department of Environment: “We live in an age where water is very important to us, water quality is very important to us and we are using water at an ever-growing rate so we have to be careful with our precious resource.” I have no argument with that.
Apparently Janice Sherry and her department are not in the same game, though, as they defer to the big potato industry and their ever-growing need for more water to produce more potatoes. How can P.E.I. even remotely consider deep-water wells when our precious water is being over used right now?
Financial Times, March 19, 2014
By Neil Munshi in Chicago
Published on March 19, 2014
A bulldozer rumbles over a mountain of fine black powder amid the abandoned shells of long-shuttered steel mills in a poor neighbourhood on the far southeast side of Chicago.
The powdery substance – familiar to locals as the black dust coating their houses, cars and, many say, lungs – is petroleum coke, or “petcoke”, a byproduct of the Canadian tar sands boom. It is stored at two terminals owned by KCBX on the banks of the Calumet River. A dust storm last autumn spurred the community to action.
“You couldn’t see across the street, it was so black,” says Carol Harris, who lives two blocks from a KCBX site. “I thought it was a tornado.”
Community activism has brought the substance to the attention of local, state and federal officials, who have initiated a flurry of legislative action, litigation and regulatory scrutiny. The recent furore has pit regulators and a poor community against Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who own KCBX. The brothers are behind Koch Industries and countless conservative causes, including groups that question the science behind climate change and challenge environmental regulations.
Petcoke is piling up from Texas to Toledo as the increase in oil production from Canada’s tar sands drives expansion at refineries throughout the country. Last year, Detroit fought for the removal of its own three-storey-high, blocks-long piles of petcoke at another terminal owned by Koch, the product of a nearby Marathon plant that has ramped up processing of heavy Canadian crude.
The tar sands boom, along with the shale revolution, has buoyed hopes of North American energy independence and bolstered support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, will carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. But the high carbon oil has come under fire from environmentalists because of its quantities of heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
Chicago’s petcoke piles originate just over the Illinois state border, at BP’s sprawling 1,400-acre refinery in Whiting, Indiana. In December, BP brought on stream a new coker, the result of a $4bn modernisation effort designed to allow it to handle more tar sands. The coker allowed BP to increase its heavy Canadian refining capacity from 20 per cent to 80 per cent of its total 400,000 barrel a day crude capacity.
Petcoke production, which results from all oil refining, will triple, from 730,000 tonnes a year to 2.19m tonnes, making the Whiting facility one of the largest petcoke producers in the world. Petcoke is most often sold as a cheap fuel in emerging markets, which have looser emissions standards.
Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed an ordinance that would ban new petcoke facilities in Chicago and prevent expansion of existing operations. Illinois governor Pat Quinn has called for statewide rules, similar to an earlier proposal from Mr Emanuel, that would require the full enclosure of all petcoke piles. The US Environmental Protection Agency has also launched an inquiry.
The mayor’s proposal came days after the state attorney-general filed a second lawsuit against KCBX, alleging water pollution violations caused by runoff. A lawsuit last autumn alleged air pollution violations.
Since last autumn, KCBX has spent $30m on environmental monitoring, improvements and a “dust suppression system” – an industrial sprinkler system designed to dampen the coke so it does not blow away, says Jake Reint, spokesman for Koch.
The company was “disappointed by the state’s decision to file a lawsuit on a matter that we believe can be resolved outside of court”, Mr Reint says. In a letter to residents, KCBX said it would consider building an enclosure.
Scott Dean, spokesman for BP, says KCBX was responsible for complying with regulatory requirements. But, he says: “We support implementation of regulations that result in the desired effect of reducing dust emissions without imposing unreasonable regulatory burdens on industry.”
“As long as [KCBX] continue to comply with their permit and regulations, we don’t foresee a change,” Mr Dean adds.
That does not sit well with locals. At a community meeting at the East Side United Methodist Church this month, residents complained about blackened windows and houses, never being able to picnic outside and keeping children indoors when the wind picked up off the Calumet River.
The attorney-general’s office has asked locals to keep logs – and take pictures and video – documenting the uncovered trucks hauling petcoke, swirling black dust storms and other violations which are common complaints and would provide evidence for its lawsuit.
For the better part of the 20th century, the southeast side of Chicago was home to some of the most polluting industries in the Midwest. But the steel mills and manufacturing plants that employed hundreds of thousands of locals shut down decades ago.
The fact that KCBX has been storing petcoke for decades, as the company frequently notes, or that the southeast side has long dealt with pollution, is not relevant, says Kate Koval, who lives two blocks from one of the sites.
“I think it was an unwritten social contract – people were willing to put up with pollution because that pollution provided a steady job and a house and college for your kids,” says Kate Koval, a community activist leading efforts to ban petcoke. “But that’s not the case any more.”
Regarding the Lands Protection Act review, I was going to tackle part of the "Red Tape" section and the role of IRAC, but after reading that IRAC reports to the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, I figured I needed a little more time to sort it all out some more. :-)
News and letters:
Published on March 18, 2014
Conservation practices such as longer crop rotations that include forages, better residue management and strip cropping increase the moisture holding capacity of the soil. The presence of organic matter enhances the soilʼs structure, thermal, and nutritional regimes; and decreases wind and water erosion. Healthy soils hold moisture better than those with low organic material. In other words, soils with high organic matter need less water for healthy plant growth.
Withdrawing water from existing ground water supplies at times of the year when those water levels are at their lowest and at a time when 100 per cent of the surface water flow is from groundwater (springs) will further reduce the volume of ground water flowing into springs, streams, rivers and estuaries. Reduced water flow coupled with high levels of nutrients currently found in the very potato-rich watersheds to be irrigated in central P.E.I., will lead to increased over-nutrification of water systems and then to an increase in anoxic events.
Wildlife in all parts of waterways will be affected by less water and by the associated issues such as eutrophication and anoxia. Extracting more groundwater from P.E.I. is about so much more than simply water volume issues. The permanent loss of high volumes of water in an already fragile aquifer at a very sensitive time of year will have negative impacts on aquatic animals and plants, including those harvested by humans.
Human health is important, and the high nitrate level found in groundwater in many wells in high potato production areas is a serious concern to the health of Islanders. However, wildlife and natural areas often take a back seat to human needs and health issues. In many jurisdictions fish and wildlife management agencies sit on the sidelines of important water management decisions.
On behalf of the health of our natural systems, including springs, streams, rivers, their riparian zones and estuaries we strongly encourage the P.E.I. Government to adopt a provincial water management plan to effectively integrate water quantity, quality and wildlife management and to maintain the existing moratorium on high-capacity deep water well construction.
Fiep de Bie,
Impact of shale gas development on groundwater to be studied
New Brunswick Energy Institute investing $500K in two-year study, set to begin in April
but then I received this comment from Bradley Walters in New Brunswick, who
finds and sends out news about the fracking issue in New Brunswick with another
article (blue is his, bold is mine):
Testing Energy institute to
spend $500,000 over two years to develop water quality baselines in four areas
in southern New Brunswick that are earmarked for possible shale gas development - Telegraph-Journal article by John Chilibeck
Published on March 18, 2014
FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick Energy Institute plans on spending more than $500,000 on research looking at well water quality in areas where industry wants to develop shale gas.
The institute, under fire for being funded by a pro-development Tory provincial government, said Monday the research would go toward establishing a proper baseline before any more wells are drilled.
It will take place in four areas of southern New Brunswick where exploration or development of the controversial industry is underway: Sussex-Petitcodiac, St. Antoine-Shediac, Harcourt-Richibucto and Boisetown-Upper Blackville.
Kerry MacQuarrie, a civil engineering professor at the University of New Brunswick, was selected as the project lead for the two-year study on about 500 private wells.He said it was important to find out the water quality before any further development takes place because sometimes people don’t realize there’s naturally occurring pollution with no human cause.
“This will be totally voluntary and it will be up to the homeowners that we contact whether they want to be involved”MacQuarrie said in an interview. “I would assume that people would be interested to know what the quality is for their drinking water, but there won’t be any obligation for anyone to take part.”
MacQuarrie is well aware of the controversy surrounding the industry and the institute itself. Between opinion polls and the province’s two major political parties, New Brunswick society appears to be split on the merits of shale gas development, which relies on hydraulic fracturing. The long-term consequences of fracking are still not completely understood,with critics,such as the Liberal opposition, saying a moratorium should be in place until more studies can be carried out, whereas the Tory government and other shale gas supporters argue that development, with certain safeguards, should go ahead to create more jobs and wealth.
“This is a research study, and it’s not really linked to any particular interest group or industry group,” MacQuarrie said. “I have no links with the shale gas industry or anything like that. I’ve been doing ground water research in the province for over 20 years and I publish that in peer-reviewed scientific formats. People probably will take issue that it’s related to the shale gas issue, but I think it’s something worthwhile to do because it seems a lot of the concerns that have been raised are related to ground water quality and the potential impacts on that.”
Stephanie Merrill,freshwater program director with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, works for the environmental organization that has campaigned heavily to stop shale gas development. She welcomed the idea of further study Monday, though she qualified her support by saying she would have to first see a detailed work plan and explanation of the research methods.
She agreed that baseline studies were important, all the more reason, she said, for a moratorium on exploration and development.
“There should be a decision made right now to halt the further work of companies’ with exploration leases and licences while this kind of work is undertaken. That would go a long way in providing an increased level of trust with the public, so they can put aside the question of whether the work is supporting the industry versus having information for providing good solid information for whether the industry should go ahead”
MacQuarrie acknowledged the researchers would have a bit of trouble with their baseline data if the industry continues to develop over the next two years.
“I have no idea to predict what the industry might do in the next couple of years,but I’m guessing it would only be a handful of wells, perhaps, that might be drilled. But again, I have no inside information or any clue about that.”
The team, which will consist of MacQuarrie and as many as eight research students, will send mail-outs or hold meetings to pick about 500 private well owners in the select areas. To ensure their results are not contaminated, they want to establish their baseline using wells that are at least one to two kilometres away from any existing oil or gas wells or seismic tests that have already been conducted. Natural gas is currently extracted at the McCully fields near Sussex and dozens and dozens of different hydrocarbon wells have been drilled since the 19th century,most of them now abandoned.
The researchers want to look at newer private water wells built within the last 20 years when provincial regulations became stricter and data was collected on the wells. They also want sites that are nicely spaced apart with different geology so that they get a better variety and breadth of data. The study will run from April 2014 to April 2016, when a final technical report will be submitted.
The project will be the first large-scale examination of natural methane gas occurrences in private water wells in the province, with the objective to collect and report baseline domestic water quality data. The focus is on groundwater quality parameters that are most relevant to the potential impact on shallow groundwater from unconventional shale gas production.
Early results from the project will be provided in an interim progress report on the institute’s website. It is intended on being the beginning of a series of water studies that the institute will be funding relating to energy development.
MacQuarrie described the work as labour intensive and requiring a good deal of expertise to properly obtain and analyze samples.He said they’d probably work in concert with researchers at Université de Moncton, who have already begun work on collecting data on wells that might be contaminated by radioactive materials caused by deposits such as uranium.
The institute plans on spending $532,000 overall on the study.
And an event I forgot to mention:
Lots going on this week!
Some meaningful letters
addressing the high capacity well issue -- these were printed on just one day,
and was "balanced" by the editorial the next day and the Potato Board
ad the next.....
Published on March 12, 2014
There is enough damage caused by the use of poison pesticides and herbicides used by the large corporations to grow potatoes. It saddens me to see and hear about thousands of fish floating dead in our streams and rivers after a heavy rainfall.
This has been happening year after year for too many years. If these chemicals can kill our fish, then how safe are they for the human population?
We hear of illness and death caused by these chemicals in our human population, among our brothers and sisters, in the animal kingdom and among birds of prey that depend on these fish to live.
Water is one of the most sacred elements of the Miʼkmaq People. The water, air and Mother Earth are all sacred elements, without anyone of these all life on Mother will die. All of these sacred elements are so interconnected that whatever we do to the water will affect the land and will affect the air.
I, along with many others, am against the drilling of deep wells for irrigation of the potato crops, as I believe it will only add to the problem of more water from the potato fields flowing into our once pristine rivers and streams and seeping down into our water table.
As keptin of the Miʼkmaq Grand Council for the District of Epekwitk, I strongly recommend that the moratorium on high- capacity deep wells for potato field irrigation not be lifted until we are sure these deep-water wells will not harm the quality of fresh water in this province.
To date, there is no evidence that we can be sure.
We have no idea what happens to our underground water, which flows under the surface. We have no idea how much of that water is available to us and what could happen to it if more deep wells were dug for the purposes of those who appear to place profit over the needs of the greater population and future generations of Islanders.
The present model of industrial agriculture cannot be working for P..E.I and it is time we faced this and built the alternatives needed now and in the future. We need to realize that corporate and industrial agriculture has had its day and that trying to rescue it will inflict great damage on Mother Earth.
She is already too wounded by this model of agriculture, which has resulted in destruction of land, water, trees, human and animal life.
Organic farmers are not asking for deep wells. They donʼt need them because they have environmentally friendly agricultural methods, which are building up the soil, treating water responsibly and enhancing human and animal health.
As Prince Edward Islanders we have to come together and demand that the government of P.E.I. maintain the moratorium on high capacity deep water wells. Set up monitoring systems on the wells that are now operating, and create legislation with teeth, so that these wells can be shut down if they are endangering our water table, our clean water supply, or causing harm to our soil.
Dr. John Joe Sark LLD is keptin of the Miʼkmaq Grand Council for the
District Of Epekwitk (P.E.I.).
Published on March 12, 2014
Without proper tests to assess the quality and quantity of the available water on P.E.I., this request should be turned over to an independent committee to ensure the proper research and studies are completed. When the data is available, an informed decision can be made. Careful consideration is required to determine potential damage to our drinking water and environment.
Secondly, my research indicates health-care scientists are studying the health problems associated with eating foods that spike our blood sugars. More and more people are becoming insulin-sensitive and developing diabetes, cancer and heart problems with the spike in insulin created from eating foods like potatoes. How much longer will people consume potatoes? French fries are even worse considering they are fried in canola oil.
The misinformation regarding the P.E.I. potato industry contributing $1 billion to our micro- economy is not accurate. The majority of the money ends up off-Island and does very little to grow our economy or create a tax base to pay for the health-care problems it creates. Nor does this industry compensate adequately our education requirements.
Finally, I would like to leave food for thought: “Mankind will not destroy Mother Earth, man can only destroy our ability to live on Mother Earth.” Mother Earth is a living cathedral, with real feelings and needs. She must have harmony and balance, she can shake mankind off her back like a dog shaking ticks off their back. She has many ways to do this, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and tidal waves. Think about it.
Published on March 12, 2014
Showing “candid” photos of hard-working farm families is a bit like a defence lawyer pointing to a murder suspect and saying to the jury does this person look like a murderer. Again this is not a good debating point for or against deep-well drilling. We all know and respect that farmers only want to make a living and do not want to harm the environment. The trouble is past farming practices have not been good and perhaps growing potatoes for the french fry factories is not good, sustainable farming practice.
When I first moved to P.E.I., my late husband and I rented out cottages for the summer. Our property backed onto a potato field. Late one fall, the field was plowed. We thought it was rather late to be plowing and then planting a cover crop. One night we had a terrible windstorm. The next day our lawns, cottages, in fact, the entire property was covered in red dust. So were the properties across the road, there was even soil in the cottages. We called the farmer, talked to him. He said he was putting in potatoes the next year, and because the growing season for this type of potato on P.E.I. was too short they had to plow in the fall.
He also stated that usually the ground froze over and there was snow cover so it did not matter. At the time I thought why are they growing a type of potato that requires a longer growing season than they naturally have. Of course these potatoes were for french fries. It seemed to me t was neither scientific or good farming practice that one should hope the ground froze before the winds came.
It was a terrible mess to clean up in the spring and I wondered whether the farmer was hoping the wind would blow the soil back onto his field. In Australia, which is a continent not an island, they have been irrigating for years, especially for the wine industry. Now their rivers are drying up. So please no pictures or threats, a proper debate is needed.
Published on March 12, 2014
Prince Edward Island has seen a disintegration of our health care and our fresh water supply. With wait times increasing and residents having to incur expensive trips or even hitchhike to Halifax for health services itʼs hard to believe we live in Canada.
Our health-care system is falling fast as well. The download of health- care costs from the feds to the provinces makes it hard for any health care to function. Itʼs made even worse by a provincial government that doesnʼt seem to understand spending wisely versus spending foolishly.
When thinking of fresh water, many will remember another summer of water problems for the city of Charlottetown as well as continuous river closures due to runoff in the summer and fall over the last few years. Itʼs hard to believe P.E.I. with all its fresh water faces these problems.
Recent calls for deep-water wells set a dangerous precedent as it opens up the already fragile Island water table to more pressure. Itʼs time we as Islanders take a stand against this and work to protect and preserve our Island water for future generations. Problems in Charlottetown over the last two summers with the Winter River Watershed should serve as a wake-up call and remind us that without proper care and protection of our water resources — we will run out. There was a time when I was growing up that buying bottled water was unheard of but nowadays this has become the norm.
I love P.E.I. with all my heart but itʼs becoming hard to live here. Itʼs time for accountability and transparency, wise spending not wasteful spending and care for the citizens of the province. Perhaps then even our politicians will be worthy of a gold.
And the website for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water:
The term ‘land grabbing’ refers to the contentious issue of large-scale land
acquisitions, primarily the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in
developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and
individuals. While used broadly throughout history, land grabbing as used today
primarily refers to large-scale land acquisitions following the 2007-2008 world
food price crisis.
installment of "Let the Potato Board Educate Islanders on the Deep Well
This is the The Education Plan -- take what the Department of Environment officials said ("We have the capacity for Dozens and dozens and dozens of wells.") and basically ignore scientists, watershed people, and volunteers who have looked at most of the same data and more and most certainly don't come to that conclusion. They are attempting to reassure a public which does cares about the health and fate of these farmers, but is growing increasingly uncomfortable with how this sector does business with its effects on land and health, and with ever-increasing demands to "level the playing field."
This educational installment, point by point (any errors of interpretation are my own):
First the point being made by the Potato Board, and then what presenters have said at the Standing Committee meetings:
"The Science" Point #1: "Prince Edward Island has one of the highest groundwater recharge rates in Canada, with recharge rates double of those in other agricultural parts of the Maritime provinces."
Actually: A lot of rain (remember how many swimming pools per square inch or kilometer?) does not mean that the rain gets to groundwater. This has been mentioned by several presenters at the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry.
The Science Point#2: Supplemental irrigation uses a very small fraction of our water supply.
Actually: this is likely true, but only a very small fraction of our water supply is actually available for our use. Do we know all the factors to choose that this commodity is more worthy than any other needs for our water?
The Science Point#3: Supplemental Irrigation will have negligible impact on the available groundwater supply, as water will be drawn -- at most -- a few weeks per year, and not at all in some years.
Actually: These high capacity wells pull up about 800 gallons per minute, I think I have read. And they can run non-stop to get to all the fields. That's about a million gallons a day, multiplied by 18-27 days per year (Innovative Farms Groups information) -- at the driest time of year, when the streams are running on mostly basewater (groundwater input) -- that's about 34 million gallons of water from one well, which services about 200 acres, I think they said. Most people would not call that negligible.
The Science Point#4: New wells would be regulated so that wells would not be approved that are beyond the capacity of the local watershed.
Actually: At least three different presenters have said that the assessment of capacity to allow the draw off water is completely wrong in the provincial 2013 water extraction policy; and that the department chose to ignore or "cherry-pick" the analysis and recommendations from the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) and other sources, namely that the water could be drawn off until stream base flow (levels only from groundwater) hit 35%. The CRI cautioned never to let irrigation happen when the baseflow is all there is -- only extracting water when there is at least a certain percent of streamflow (from rain) in local streams.
Now these assessments are my inferences from listening to every presenter to the committee after the Environment Minister and her entourage.
Last spring, Horace Carver was criss-crosing the Island, listening to Islanders,reading every previous commission, every roundtable, every task force and action committee, and after very long and hard thought, came to his conclusions that increasing potato acreage is not going to improve soil or the bottom line.
From his report The Gift of Jurisdiction: Our Island Province:
The Commission does not doubt, as they claim, that many potato producers are doing a good job when it comes to protecting against soil erosion and maintaining an acceptable level of soil organic matter content. However, the following facts cannot be ignored:
1. Potato yield is related to soil quality;
2. A significant number of potato producers do not comply with the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act;
3. The precise number of acres not in compliance is unknown since the Department of Agriculture and Forestry does not verify compliance through field checks;
4. There have been no successful prosecutions since the Agricultural Crop Rotation Act was proclaimed in 2002; and
5. Soil organic matter, a principle indicator of soil quality, continues to decline.
The Commission recommends:
3. That the aggregate land holding limits of 1,000 acres of land for an individual and 3,000 acres of land for a corporation apply only to ‘arable land’ – a term to be defined in the revised Lands Protection Act – and that the maximum amount of non-arable land holdings be set at 400 acres for individuals and 1,200 acres for corporations.
The Commission Recommends:
4. That before any future increase to the arable aggregate land holding limits is considered, government and the agriculture sector must
commit to actions and report satisfactory progress to
But, as the hollow instrument that it is now, the Agriculture Crop Rotation Act lacks force and will never be effective until the agricultural community itself takes ownership of the problem and required solutions. To do nothing is not an option.
As a further comment on the subject of aggregate land holding limits, the Commission realizes there are some who believe the decision on “How much land is enough?” should be left to those who currently own and control the most land. History teaches us that the Lands Protection Act was brought in for the express purpose of providing all Islanders, through their elected representatives, with a say in the matter. In this regard, the Commission believes nothing has changed.
Amazingly clear analysis and strong words.
the list of
presenters at the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and
Forestry yesterday in the Coles Building. It ended up going from 10AM to
about 3PM, with a short lunch break. But it was completely interesting.
Location of transcripts of these Committee meetings (not yesterday's, yet)
from the Legistlative Assembly site:
14 (besides being "Pi Day" -- 3.14) marks an unpleasant one year
anniversary. One year ago, we had two warm days and a good amount of
Box culvert at Crawford's Brook, March 14, 2013
The Fairyland culvert is still there, but now the bumpy Plan B goes over
about 50 feet of shale.
The last meeting before the Legislature opens for spring will be in two weeks, Thursday, March 27th, when the Committee will have a last few presentations (PEI Potato Board, Sierra Club, others) and deal with other agricultural news. The Committee will present a report on their meetings to the Legislature in April.
There have been some excellent letters in this week's papers, and I will have a "bulletin board" of these in the next few days.
The National Farmers' Union district convention is today at the Dutch Inn, all welcome, and there will be presentations/discussions about high capacity wells, bill C-18 about farmers' ability to save seeds, and CETA.
And switching gears entirely to the CETA agreement (Comprehensive Economic Trade/Canada-European Union) is a well-crafted, "it's clear as a bell -- run in the opposite direction of CETA" letter in yesterday's Guardian by Marie Burge:
Published on March 13, 2014
There is a growing awareness in our community that democracy is being undermined at every turn. Many people point to governments as the big offenders. It is a cause for widespread cynicism that the very institutions which citizens entrust with the duty of guarding democracy, namely governments, are the culprits selling out our democratic collective freedoms.
CETA is one of those sell-outs, with major negative consequences for the democratic future of Canada.
The most obvious sign of the lack of democracy in CETA is the negotiations are carried out in total secrecy, with a few gratuitous leaks. In many meetings behind closed doors, unelected, professional negotiators are creating a plan for the future of our country. This is a “... binding international treaty — negotiated in secret, with its exact terms still concealed from the public — to be agreed to without any opportunity for debate, reflection or independent analysis” (Scott Sinclair, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives). Earlier this year the Prime Minister arrived home from a European trip to announce that he had an “agreement in principle”.
Supporters of CETA say “it will improve our economy.” This is worrisome because our predominant economic system itself is undemocratic. We need to ask the question, “improving the economy for whom?” It is clear that CETA aims to “improve the economy” for the top one per cent, not the economy as it relates to the large segment of the population deprived of reliable, livable income. We already have an economy geared towards the rich and powerful. Canadians should challenge government representatives or politicians every time they present a platform of the “economy,” and ask, who controls this economy and who benefits from it? The Canadian Government should be shamed for its efforts to win over the voting population by claiming that CETA could create 80,000 Canadian jobs. This ploy has been used before. It is based on a naive belief that the corporate sectorʼs gains will result in investments in new jobs. In fact, the opposite is found to be true.
The authorities say, “Trade is necessary.” We, who oppose CETA, are not against trade. In fact, we support trade among nations, but we propose fair trade, in which we mutually benefit from the trade of goods and services of equal value and similar genre. For many years we have listened to the rhetoric of "free trade" such as that of NAFTA enthusiasts. The only thing that was freed by that agreement was the movement of capital from one country into another. It provided freedom for the transnational corporations to ignore sovereign borders and to plant their investments wherever they would produce the biggest profits.
The authorities imply CETA is just another trade deal. Others say it is merely NAFTA on steroids, which is scary enough, but not true. CETA is in a totally different framework. CETA would grant to transnational monopolies a power and control over our country never before experienced. At the same time, it will limit the capacity of democratically elected governments to create independent public policy.
Under CETA, and other agreements which are in the works, elected politicians around the world will lose the power to enact legislation or programs to protect their citizens and the environment in the face of economic disaster or the devastation of climate change.
Similar to NAFTA, the proposed CETA will give corporations the right to demand compensation from any government action that "interferes" with a corporationʼs goals, investments, and contracting interests. The Investor State Dispute Settlement, a mechanism of CETA, allows for an investor, a private corporation, to make claims against Canada, a sovereign nation, for any perceived “loss or damages.” All Canadians, including Islanders, should consider some possible impacts of CETA: it could interfere with “buy local” policies for food or any other goods and services; it could give EU monopolies full access to municipal or provincial contracts related to drinking water, sanitation and other municipal services.
Many coalitions, both in the EU and in Canada (including P.E.I.), aware that CETA is not yet signed, are taking action to influence the outcome. The first step is to demand that the contents of CETA be revealed. “There needs to be informed public debate, based on full disclosure of the treaty text. This should happen before Canadian governments, at all levels, make a final decision” (Scott Sinclair). The coalitions are creating awareness of the negative aspects of the proposed agreement, and creating forums for public debate, at the same time encouraging municipal and provincial governments to protect their communities.
There is still time for concerned citizens to mount firm and effective opposition to the CETA. Citizens with a united voice can stop this deal which has the capacity to decrease Canadaʼs democratic powers as well as those of provinces and territories, and municipalities.
New coalition in Prince Edward Island concerned over Canada- Europe trade deal - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on March 06, 2014
The coalition of 23 local groups held a news conference in Charlottetown this week, calling the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) the most intrusive that Canada has ever signed.
Lori MacKay, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) for P.E.I., says one key concern is around local procurement policies.
“Thereʼs not too many things that are more significant to the private sector in Prince Edward Island than access to local government contracts, but the European demands would make it impossible for provinces and municipalities to use government spending as a job creator or a local economic development tool,” she said.
“This would mean that when awarding contracts, a local government would not be able to put provisions on a contract, like minimum Canadian or local content...or even buy-local campaigns.”
Other areas cited as potentially threatened by CETA are the provinceʼs agricultural industry and health-care system. The coalition also believes the deal will limit or remove the governmentʼs ability to create jobs, support local businesses and negotiate benefits for Islanders from companies investing in the provinceʼs resources.
Speakers at the news conference addressed topics such CETAʼs negative effects on the dairy industry, supply management, the cost of drugs and the fishing industry.
The coalition emphasized it was not against trade but expressed concerns over the nature of free trade agreements such as CETA and NAFTA.
Coalition members stated their belief that these agreements are mainly about expanding the rights of multinational companies, while reducing the ability of provincial and municipal governments to pursue policies that benefit local communities and everyday citizens.
Thatʼs why they have written to the premier, asking him to champion the idea of a review of this agreement. They would like a standing committee to examine the CETA and engage in public consultations across the province.
They also would like to see the Canada-European trade deal debated in the provincial legislature.
Theyʼve asked the provincial government to outline what exemptions, or reservations as theyʼre called in CETA, P.E.I. has designated to protect important policies from the effects of the agreement.
“This network of groups came together about concern about the secrecy, concern for the erosion of democracy, concern about our government having itʼs hands tied and not being able to govern as we want it to,” said Cindy Richards of the Citizenʼs Alliance of P.E.I.
“Islanders deserve to know what is in the deal and in particular need to
know what reservations that Ghiz government has taken to protect important
policies such as renewable energy, owner/operator and fleet separation and
it was discovered that if you buy two ads in a local paper, you get an opinion
piece printed like a news story. But, wait, there's more: the special
Published on March 12, 2014 in The Guardian
Outside of the agricultural sector, there is almost universal opposition to
lifting a 10-year moratorium on deep-water wells. Even inside the farming
community, the NFU is opposed to any changes. Other farmers, including some
potato growers, are either opposed or neutral on the issue.
P.E.I. potato growers suggest the industry would be in jeopardy without some
relief from deep-water wells, with catastrophic economic results for farmers,
rural communities and the province in general. Irrigation will provide an
important tool to help sustain family farms for the next generation and beyond.
Farmers said all the right things to the committee. “We live in rural P.E.I.
with our children, our families, our friends and neighbours, in and around the
farms that we would be irrigating. Thus we are very committed to managing this
resource to be as gentle on our environment and as beneficial to our
environment as possible. Better plant growth from irrigation means less
fertilizer and fewer pesticides due to less stress on the plant.”
A short conference entitled “My Island, My Heart” will take place March 4, 1:00-3:00 pm, at UPEI’s Chaplaincy Centre. The conference, led by UPEI arts student Faith Robinson, focuses on three themes: island fragility, island sustainability, and island community.
Special guest speakers include: Deirdre Kessler, writer and UPEI professor; Laurie Brinklow, accomplished poet and UPEI professor; and Millefiore Clarkes, filmmaker to name a few. A short docu-film Island Green, about organic farming on PEI, will also be featured as part of the conference.
Today, it is more important than ever to realize the limitations and magnificence of our environment, so keenly felt by Islanders worldwide. It is crucial that we not forget the roots from which we ourselves grow, to envision a better future.
For more information on the conference, contact Faith Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission is free, and snacks and beverages will be provided. All are welcome to attend.
The Healthy Eating Alliance newsletter, with lots of local food events and information, is here:
It is the second download link -- March 2014
And nothing about the Lands Protection Act, except as I delve into them, my admiration for the amount of research and rumination that went into these recommendations.
Here was a little article
in Monday's Guardian, page A3. Perhaps the paper has a deal
that if your organization buys two half-page ads you get an opinion piece
published as if it were a news article? The red arrows for extra special
Tomorrow, Thursday, is the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Ag/Env/Energy and Forestry, at 1PM in the Coles Building.
**If weather cancels the meeting, it will be rescheduled, I am told, to Friday morning at 10AM.**
There is some other business first (from the Hog Board), then:
Atlantic Salmon Federation (Todd Dupuis)
PEI Federation of Agriculture
Council of Canadians
Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI
PEIS Shellfish Association
and the Committee has to consider a request from Cavendish Farms
Woo, what a line-up!!
Of course, do consider attending if you can.
This page has the listing and link to the agenda. As soon as I hear anything about the meeting being postponed, I will pass it on. http://www.assembly.pe.ca/meetings/index.php?shownumber=332
For an archive of letters and posts about this issue, including footage from Maude Barlow's talk at the water forum last month, go to: http://peiwater.wordpress.com/
Besides the land limits, the Commission on the Lands Protection Act also explored the concern about "double-counting", where farmland "leased out" (rented to someone else to farm) is counted and so is the same land "leased in" (somebody rents it). The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, but pretty much no one else, liked the system. So:
The Commission recommends:
2. That the provincial government amend subsection 1(3) of the Lands Protection Act to remove the double-counting provision so that only land leased in is counted as part of the aggregate land holding; that the amendment include a sunset clause that would expire in six years, unless specifically extended before the expiration of the six-year time limit; and that a cap be instituted to limit the amount of land an individual or a corporation can lease out to 50% of arable acres owned.
Many different topics:
Province commits up to $212,000 to bring company to Prince Edward Island - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on March 10, 2014
A Scottish company with technology that can find underground minerals and energy resources has decided to make Prince Edward Island its Canadian home.
Adrok uses electromagnetic beams to penetrate rock, seawater and earth in order
to survey for natural resources.
On Monday, Adrok announced it has chosen P.E.I. as its Canadian base of operations.
“We were in Alberta last week and there were a lot of eyebrows raised when we said we were based in P.E.I. because they all thought theyʼve got the oil so we should be there, but actually the province of P.E.I. has got everything we need to grow as a company,” said Alan Goodwin, vice-president of operations for Adrok.
“Weʼve had lots of support, the people here have been fantastic in terms of setting up our economic plans and our financial plans, so thatʼs been very supportive,” said managing director and co-founder Gordon Stove.
The provincial government has committed $11,000 as part of a rental incentive together with a labour rebate that could reach $201,000 if the company reaches its target of hiring six Island employees by the end of 2015.
Innovation Minister Allen Roach said the province is excited by the work that Adrok performs and was only too happy to help the company set up shop in Charlottetown.
“We see that thereʼs great opportunity for that type of business here in North
America,” Roach said.
Adrok will provide a base to service existing clients in the region as well as developing business within Canadaʼs booming mineral exploration industry.
The new base will create six jobs for geophysics (sic) and field technicians who will gather and analyze data on site before sending it back to the companyʼs Edinburgh headquarters for further analysis.
There will also be a sales and marketing function in order to build a client base in the region.
Stove said his companyʼs low-power multi-frequency radio wave technology allows it to probe subsurface areas offers prospective developers the ability to identify lucrative underground or underwater resources in more environmentally sensitive way.
It also costs significantly less than normal drilling costs for test wells.
Adrokʼs decision to base its headquarters in the province was not necessarily linked to a desire for oil or gas surveying in Prince Edward Island.
But Stove did say the company would be willing to do some exploratory work here.
“We plan to develop our offshore capability here in the Maritimes. In the east coast of Canada thereʼs great opportunities to find more sources of energy,” Stove said.
“I think certainly that Minister Sheridan will be interested in what this company has to offer, and if we do look for things in P.E.I. then we have the company here,” Roach added.
Adrok conducted its first commercial exploration in 2007 in Morocco and has
since used its patented technology to assist energy and mineral exploration in
the North Sea, Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
the Plan B opposition, so many caring, brilliant people on this Island made the
time to speak out on something so wrong. That's what is happening now.
Will common sense trump misleading scientific claims on deep-water wells? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Kevin J. Arsenault
Published on March 06, 2014
The abstract for that article states: “Intensification of potato farming has contaminated groundwater with nitrate in many cases in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which raises concerns for drinking water quality and associated ecosystem protection . . . while it would take several years to reduce the nitrate-N in the shallow portion of the aquifer, it would take several decades or even longer to restore water quality in the deeper portions of the aquifer.
“Elevated nitrate-N concentrations in base flow are positively correlated with
potato cropping intensity and significant reductions in nitrate-N loading are
required if the nitrate level of surface water is to recover to the standard in
the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines.”
Kevin J. Arsenault of Charlottetown obtained his doctorate from McGill University in social ethics. He has served as a former executive director of the National Farmers Union, and has worked as an agricultural consultant for more than 20 years. He was also a presenter to the standing committee investigating whether P.E.I. should become a GM-free zone in 2005.
More about those Environmental Exemptions tomorrow.
are two upcoming social events, each with a primary concern: democratic
reform and environmental issues:
core idea is simple: if we work together, we can help hold this government
accountable at the ballot box by mobilizing thousands of people to get out and
vote for action on democracy, climate, and inequality in key ridings across the
(I sometimes get LeadNow and FairVote Canada mixed up.)
So I think you can drink whatever color drink you like.
This is from American cable company MSNBC. I honestly don't know much
about "The Ed Show" but this video clip is about 15 minutes of a very
loud American guy (Ed Schultz) who at the beginning shows even louder
conservatives shouting about needing the Keystone pipeline. Then he tells
you he used to be in favour of the pipeline, but *has changed his mind and
why*. It's actually very interesting, especially to see how the Canadian
government and business leaders look from the American perspective.
Letters regarding the high capacity well issue
This one raises an issue about radon, but has anyone actually heard about his concern? Perhaps we all need to start asking about it.
Published on March 06, 2014
If you irrigate with P.E.I. groundwater by spraying, in the flight of the water droplets through the air, radon will evaporate out of the water droplet, effectively what is called an air stripper; now a radon stripper. Some radon evaporates (stripped out), some doesnʼt. The radon stripper effect will form a radioactive radon gas cloud, a radon plumb. The radioactive half-life of 86Rn222 is 3.8 days, and a significant concentration of radon may occur near the spraying source in light winds as well as down wind.
When radon decays it emits an alpha particle of 5.5 million electron volts, very energetic.
Electrons are stripped off diatomic oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the air and it takes about 30 electron volts to create one ion pair. This is referred to as ionization or ionizing radiation. Do the math: divide 5.5 million by 30 and you get ~183,000 ion pairs from one alpha particle.
There is a background level of ionization in the atmosphere caused by cosmic rays and background radiation. Airborne irrigation will add to this considerably; so much so that the resistance of the earth atmosphere is decreased, the electrical field of the earth arcs over, and you have thunder and lightning.
Last summer I heard thunder over Hunter River or Cavendish and there wasnʼt
talk of any electrical disturbances on the newscast nor were the clouds
thunderheads. I believe now this thunder most likely was caused by the
deep-water wells spraying radon in the air in Prince and Queens counties of
P.E.I. Friends say: “I heard that too.”
As a public health matter, it will also prove useful to know the MPC of radon for groundwater, as municipal wells are also involved, at least indirectly.
Standing Committee On Agriculture and Environment meeting yesterday regarding
high capacity wells meeting was full, which as you know makes an impression.
The last echoes how effectively Horace Carver visited and listened to Islanders (and about whose work I am skipping discussing today).
MLA Buck Watts mentioned he thought these meetings were a form of public consultation, and I hope by the answers he understands yes, but there needs to be more to really say the Legislators consulted with the public.
(MLA Kathleen was quite focused on how many members are in the NFU. When not given a specific number, she persisted and even asked other presenters if they knew.)Compass, lead story
Some events coming up (not complete in the least):
Tuesday, March 11, 7PM
Pesticide Free PEI Meeting, Sobey's in Stratford
Thursday, March 13th, 1-5PM
High Capacity Wells presentation, Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, Coles Building
Presenters (I think) include Todd Dupois of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Council of Canadians, The Cooper Institute, and the NDP-PEI.
Also, on Thursday:
PEI ADAPT Council AGM/Conference
"Celebrating the International Year of the Family Farm"
AGM 9AM, Conference: 10:30AM
Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
10:30 Conference Welcome: Elmer MacDonald, Chair, PEI ADAPT Council
Presentations from Family Farmers
Matt Dykerman, Rose and Dave Viaene, Don and Christine MacDonald, Alexander Beattie
Questions and Audience Discussion
ADAPT Project Leader Presentations
Farm Centre - Future of the Farm Centre & 2014 Legacy Garden Project
International Sustainable Communities - Roster of Skills
Organic Beet Production and Mkt Opportunities
Potato Marketing by Usage & Wireworm Control , PEI Potato Board
Questions and Audience Discussion
Report on PEI Agriculture Trade Mission to Taiwan - Issues and Opportunities
Phil Ferraro, Executive Director PEI ADAPT, PEI Agr. Trade Team Member
Project Trade Show and Nutrition Break
• GEC - DON Wheat and Future Mkt Opportunities
• Sea Spray Coop - Pickling/Fermentation,
• Fed of Agr/CMEG - Temporary Foreign Workers,
• Hort Assn. - Ethnic Veg Mkts., Club Root Resistance in Broccoli Varieties,
• Hometown Pork - Pork Value Chain,
• Soil Foodweb - Compost Tea as Fungicide, Storecast, Biochar Field Trails,
• Soil and Crop Improvement Assn. - Sea Lettuce Compost,
• Island Forest Foods - Diversified Permaculture Orchard,
• PEI Dairy Farmers - Bovine Leucosis and Johnnies Disease,
• PEI Brewing Company - Malt Barley Value Chain,
• PEI Cranberry Growers - Powder Cranberry Marketing,
• Omega Holdings - Safe Quality Food Planning,
• Certified Organic Producers Coop - Organic Products Field Trials,
• PEI Sheep Breeders - Genetic Enhancement,
Lunch with Keynote Speaker (12:30 - 1:30 pm.)
Reg Porter, ‘Historical Perspectives of Island Family Farming’
Project Trade Show 1:30 - 2PM
CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS FREE and open to anyone with an interest in the future of agriculture and agri-food production on Prince Edward Island. Pre-registration is necessary as space is limited. To register call: 368-2005 or email: email@example.com
Friday, March 14th
A short conference entitled “My Island, My Heart” will take place March
14, 1:00-3:00 pm, at UPEI’s Chaplaincy Centre. The conference, led by UPEI
arts student Faith Robinson, focuses on three themes—island fragility,
island sustainability, and island community.
Special guest speakers include: Deirdre Kessler, writer and UPEI professor;
Laurie Brinklow, accomplished poet and UPEI professor; and Millefiore
Clarkes, filmmaker to name a few. A short docu-film Island Green, about
organic farming on PEI, will also be featured as part of the conference.
Today, it is more important than ever to realize the limitations and
magnificence of our environment, so keenly felt by Islanders worldwide. It is
crucial that we not forget the roots from which we ourselves grow, to
envision a better future.
For more information on the conference, contact Faith Robinson at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission is free, and snacks and beverages will be
provided. All are welcome to attend.
(Also note that) Saturday, March 22nd, Island Green screening, 7:30PM, Bonshaw
A few dates to keep in
A Standing Committee
meeting tomorrow, starting at 1PM, at the Coles Building next to
Province House, with presentations (I think) from the National Farmers' Union,
The PEI Watershed Alliance, Central Queen's Wildlife Federation/West River, The
Innovative Farms Group, and the Green Party PEI. If you can drop by for a
little bit, that will support (most of) these groups and show the politicians
that people are interested in this issue.
Published on March 04, 2014
Too bad they did not come forward sooner with this approach. Their perspective
that this is a lot of storm about a very small issue, that it will not take
much water, and letʼs just trust them and the government to do the right thing
is a little hard to take.
Carol Capper, Summerside
Most letters to the editor
published in The Guardian get posted on their website, but occasionally
one or two don't make it. Often an e-mail from a reader will point it out to
them. Sometimes it takes a few reminders.
Published on February 21, 2014
It appears as if the potential lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for irrigation of potato fields may be — excuse the pun — a watershed issue on P.E.I. The crux of Minister Sherry and the potato boardʼs shared position is that “the science” supports a lifting of the ban. But science is not a package of carefully filtered information presented as a final, incontestable truth; it is a dynamic, continuously unfolding process. Science is the ongoing clash of differing ideas from which the light of truth temporarily shines, until newer and better information illuminates the issue further.
When it comes to ground water on P.E.I., we know so very little. As the saying goes, itʼs not that we donʼt know all the answers, we donʼt even know the right questions to ask. The complexity of Island hydrology, and the importance of water in our lives insists that we proceed with extreme caution.
Many informed experts have already expressed grave concern about lifting the moratorium, and most “ordinary” Islanders with generations of accumulated knowledge seem to be saying that the lifting of this ban represents a line in our red soil that we must not cross.
Unlike some other issues, when it comes to our water, there is no Plan B. We must get this right first time. Islanders have an important decision to make; we need farming — indeed I believe that our provinceʼs economic future will depend perhaps more than ever before on farming. But it must be a type of farming that will rebuild our soil, not denude it, will protect our water, not threaten it.
I am not anti-farming — quite the opposite — but I am anti-screwing up our water.
Back to the Land:
This Thursday afternoon,
the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry
continues its meetings to hear from groups concerned about the high capacity
well issue. The meeting starts at 1PM and will go as late as 5PM if
needed. Consider dropping in for any amount of time if you can, since
interest from the the public on issues is certainly noted, plus it is important
to hear what these groups are saying when they say it, since the media only has
so much time to report it, and the Hansard (transcript) takes some time to get
yesterday's Guardian were two letters regarding our groundwater, the
first by this thoughtful Islander:
Published on March 01, 2014
Wednesday night I sat in a room with a few hundred other people concerned, as I am, with what is happening to this Island. I listened to John Joe Sark speak of how sacred the four elements are to the Miʼkmaq; I heard Reg Phelan discuss farming practices; Maude Barlow talked about the global water situation and Daryl Guignon explained how simple it would be to change and, in fact, reverse what is happening to our valuable resource — water.
Each of these people was able to explain in clear simple terms what needs to happen to improve our farming practices, halt anoxic events, prevent erosion and reduce the need for deep water wells.
How is it that I understood and yet our politicians canʼt? Apparently there are stacks of studies that have been completed by qualified people explaining all this and more. Studies that are sitting on shelves being ignored.
It is about time that our government listened to its people as opposed to the large corporations. When the streams dry up, the fishing industry dies, the soil is depleted and P.E.I. is a desert, the potato giants will have moved on to “greener pastures” and we, the people, will be left to sweep up the sand.
Published on March 01, 2014
A federal study confirms that after years of dumping oilsands tailings into holding ponds in Alberta, there are tailings leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River, a source of drinking water. They estimate each pondʼs seepage at 6.5 million litres a day.
What about our Waste Watch containment area in West Prince? Are heavy metals being leached into ground water? The potato industry has a problem with wireworm. Some producers want to fumigate (sterilize) the soil with Vapam (metam sodium), which is a carcinogenic or cancer-causing compound.
The strawberry industry also has a disease virus transported by an aphid. A contract between our P.E.I. government and Environment Canada has supposedly been signed and Westeck will fumigate strawberry runner fields in West Prince this summer. Wayne MacKinnon, a government spokesman, claims this is only a pilot research program for experimental purpose to see how much leaches into the groundwater.
Nitrates leached into our drinking water. Then what?
West Prince is about to become guinea pigs for the federal Conservative and P.E.I. Liberal governments. Chloropicrin, a carcinogenic, will be applied. This pesticide is highly toxic, may be fatal if inhaled, can harm the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs and eyes. If ingested it can cause colic and death. It is toxic to fish.
Fumigants are inherently dangerous pesticides. Each year groups of us travel to
West Prince strawberry fields and spend hundreds of dollars harvesting their
fruits. Personally I will not be picking and purchasing strawberries from West
Gary A. O. MacKay,
He sketches the history of land ownership since European settlement, of the absentee landowners and the money from Confederation in part being used to buy back part of Island land from the absentee landowners in England, and of various forms of some sort of LPA, always trying to figure out who wanted land and for what, and keeping some control in the matter, whether the rules were enforced or not.
Carver also outlined shared values he determined and felt all parties, whether for increases in land holding or not, would agree with:
page 16 and 17 (quoted in blue)
At several public meetings, the Commissioner expressed the hope that farmers and the farm organizations that represent them could agree on many of the issues that led to the current review of the Lands Protection Act.
A list of ‘shared values’ what could also be described as the
founding elements of a balanced approach was presented to the
annual meeting of the National Farmers Union on April 11, just as the
Commission neared the end of its public meetings. The ten shared values were
drawn primarily from what the Commissioner perceived to be
It is simply not possible to achieve consensus on all issues that fall within
the Commission’s mandate. The positions of the two general farm organizations
are diametrically opposed on the issue of aggregate land holding limits.
However, there is broad agreement in the agriculture community on the shared
values outlined below.
1. The land is a public trust and, because of this, all Islanders have
an interest in its stewardship;
From the very impressive
front page article in yesterday's Guardian:
And the articulate Rob MacLean, son of former Premier Angus MacLean, closes the front section in Friday's Guardian:
Record on complying with regulation is not good if one considers the Crop Rotation Act
Before we discuss deep-water wells, we need to face our record on the Crop Rotation Act.
Thatʼs the 2002 law which mandates a three-year crop rotation in potatoes. This is our history, itʼs where promises meet performance and the record is not good.
About a quarter of potato operations are in violation of the act. This is a big reason people donʼt trust government to regulate the industry. It didnʼt have to be this way.
Imagine what the public atmosphere would be like if, instead of only 75 per cent of potato operations complying with the act, we were close to 100 per cent compliance. What if, instead of our soil organic matter getting worse province-wide, it was holding steady or even improving? What if the potato industry could point to those accomplishments? What if the government could say, “You can trust us to regulate wells because of how well weʼve regulated crop rotations?”
If that was the situation, people would still be cautious, they would still want to proceed slowly, if at all, but they would also appreciate farmersʼ efforts to take care of the soil and they would be more inclined to believe governmentʼs assurances.
As it is, the two camps on this question have very little basis for trust. Comprehensive science is only part of the solution. There was a time when science told us there were plenty of cod in the sea and plenty of big trees on the land. The scientists were right, but we mismanaged those stocks and now theyʼre gone.
Regardless of how much water is under our feet, it will be possible to ruin that resource too. Whatever policy we arrive at regarding deep-water wells will have impressive language around regulation, but those words will be empty if we canʼt trust the regulator to enforce them.
Itʼs up to government to build trust, and what they need to do is take strong action on the Crop Rotation Act. Until they do, the old saying applies, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Rob MacLean, Lewes
I have been meaning to dig up and go through Horace Carver's Report of the Commission on the Lands Protection Act, especially since at the end of March, Mr. Carver is speaking to the March 27th Thursday meeting of the very same Standing Committee of Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry; and I think there may be legislation in the spring sitting of the Legislature, which begins in April. There are 29 recommendations, so with some background and perhaps a day off for reader-fatigue, let's march ahead.
To recap (and my errors are my own), Horace Carver is a Charlottetown lawyer, background here: http://www.peildo.ca/fedora/repository/leg:27472 who was a Conservative MLA from 1978 to 1986, during which time Alex Campbell, Bennett Campbell, Angus MacLean, and James Lea were Premier.
He represented PEI in the Constitutional talks in 1981. He fought for the right for PEI not to be guided under property rights guaranteed at the federal level and have the right to a provincial Lands Protection Act, and worked drafting the first LPA in the 1980s.
Carver was appointed in November 2012, when Plan B was just getting cleared and bulldozed, and in early 2013 started consultations. He set the bar high as far as reaching out, appearing in the media often and having several public events, and then basically doing a whistle-stop tour of the Island (if we wistfully still had trains), making sure to reschedule meetings due to bad weather, and have lots of info on the website.
The sessions, as you may remember, were long and he pretty much let people talk. Then he scooped up all his papers in May and his small staff and wrote his report, submitting it a day before the deadline in late June. It languished a bit (out of his hands) and was finally released in late Fall.
OK, more tomorrow on it.