Budget cuts threaten federal green plan for oilsands and coal: scientist

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Jun 12 2012

OTTAWA – Budget cuts to a team of smokestack pollution specialists at Environment Canada could jeopardize the Harper government’s efforts to crack down on pollution from industries such as the oilsands and coal-fired electricity generation, warns a University of Guelph professor, who worked with the special unit of federal scientists.

Environment Minister Peter Kent has suggested, through a spokesman, the government could replace his department’s expertise by relying on outside sources such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

But Bill Van Heyst, an associate professor in environmental engineering who specializes in air quality, said the Environment Canada scientists provide a level of independence as well as unique expertise on Canadian industrial practices that the government would have trouble finding elsewhere as it attempts to boost environmental monitoring efforts in the oilsands region.

“If you don`t have a legitimate background in air quality or air quality testing then it`s really easy to make mistakes, and those mistakes are going to make everybody look, in the long run, really bad,” Van Heyst said in an interview with Postmedia News.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Feds suggest U.S. EPA could replace Canadian pollution team

Published by Postmedia News on Sunday Jun 3 2012

OTTAWA – The federal government has suggested it could replace a team of smokestack pollution specialists by turning to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, appearing to contradict its own description of the scientists and their work on Environment Canada’s website.

The apparent contradiction comes as hundreds of charities and organizations across Canada will stage what they are calling a “Black out, Speak out” event on Parliament Hill on Monday, denouncing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for adopting policies they describe as anti-environment and anti-democratic.

The government has projected savings of about $718,000 by eliminating its internal research capabilities on industrial emissions measurements. It also estimated it would need to spend about $115,000 to obtain and analyze data from other external sources, such as the EPA.

Continue reading

Scientist surfaces to praise ozone monitoring amidst federal review

published Oct. 21, 2011 by Postmedia News

OTTAWA – A senior Environment Canada scientist whose job may be eliminated through budget cuts has highlighted the importance of maintaining the country’s world-leading atmospheric monitoring network after new research showed a record hole in the planet’s ozone layer above the Arctic.

David Tarasick was among four Canadian authors of the international study, published Oct. 2 in the British scientific journal Nature, that reported on the hole – twice the size of Ontario – in the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful radiation.

Until now, the Conservative government, facing criticism about its decision to review resources in the monitoring network, has prevented Tarasick from speaking publicly about the research.

“We’ve been doing this (for) about 45 years now,” Tarasick said in a telephone interview supervised by Environment Canada officials. “The Canadian stations have been the backbone of the global network (of monitoring) ever since we started measuring ozone.”

Continue reading

Feds try to track whistleblowers on ozone monitoring costs

published Sept. 29, 2011 by Postmedia News

OTTAWA – Revelations about the federal government’s plan to cut monitoring of the ozone layer have prompted denial at the highest levels of Environment Canada, along with an attempt to pinpoint who blew the whistle, alleges an American atmospheric chemist.
Jennifer Logan, a senior research fellow from Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was contacted by the department’s top bureaucrat a few days after sending him a letter on Sept. 15 to stress the importance of Canada’s monitoring network of the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful radiation.
But instead of discussing the science, Logan alleged that the department’s deputy minister, Paul Boothe, was more interested in denying the government’s plans to downsize the monitoring and also to identify Canadian sources of an article about the cuts that was published in the British scientific journal, Nature.

Continue reading