Pressure is mounting on the U.S. and Canadian governments to explore ways to restore water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron that have been lowered nearly two feet due to historic dredging on the St. Clair River. The two lakes, which are actually one body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac, have been below their long-term average for more than a decade, and forecasters say in the coming months they could plunge below their record low.
Now an organization of 90 mayors representing more than 15 million residents in cities across the Great Lakes region is telling the International Joint Commission that it is "dissatisfied" with a recent study that determined restoring lake levels by installing some type of structure to repair damage done to the St. Clair River would be a costly project that could take decades and ultimately do more harm than good.
About five years ago, residents of Yarmouth and surrounding areas joined together and formed the Tricounty Watershed Protection Association to stop the pollution being caused by mink farms at the headwaters of the Meteghan, Sissaboo and Tusket rivers. The Department of Environment conducted water tests in 10 lakes and 75 kilometres of the Tusket River for three consecutive years. The final water test results concluded that the mink farms were the probable cause. The government cancelled further water tests and no action was taken, despite the protests from citizens and environmental groups.
OTTAWA – As a direct result of Bill C-38, Sierra Club Canada and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) are withdrawing their applications for judicial review of permits issued by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to allow Bruce Power to export 1,600 tonnes of radioactive waste (containing plutonium and other radionuclides) through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway to Sweden.
“Our court case is the first victim of Bill C-38,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “Our quest for environmental justice and democracy, however, is far from over.”
The International Joint Commission will be holding a series of Public Hearings in July: Addressing Uncertainty in Upper Great Lakes Water Levels. These hearings will provide information on their studies since 2007 investigating options for better management of changing water levels and flows in the upper Great Lakes system (Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan/Georgian Bay and Erie).
Sierra Club is encouraging everyone to participate at the meetings. Please come and wear your "Restore Our Water Levels" t-shirt (pictured here). You can buy one for $10 at the IJC meetings or at select marinas and stores around Georgian Bay. Contact us at email@example.com to find a location near you.
Sierra Club Canada congratulates Premier Kathleen Wynne for stepping up to save the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).The ELA is an essential part of Canada's environmental protection infrastructure and necessary for understanding how our environment is impacted by human activity.
"We thought the ELA was an endangered species until Premier Wynne stepped up," said Dan McDermott, Director of Sierra Club Canada’s Ontario Chapter.
The ELA was fundamental in demonstrating the how our lakes were being effected by Sulphur emissions from power plants and smelters. ELA research ultimately led to the US-Canada air quality agreement which prompted a significant reduction in toxic emissions, for which Canadians can be grateful.
We are very excited to be involved in the 13th Annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, October 10–14, 2012!
Sierra Club Ontario is cosponsoring the screening of Rainforest: The Limit of Splendour, screening withEyes in the Forest and Crown of Life. These are on the final day of the festival Sunday, October 14 at 4:00 PM at the spectacular TIFF Bell Lightbox (Cinema 2).
Research is questioning the logic behind the federal government's move to streamline environmental assessments.
After tracking thousands of assessments over a decade, the peer-reviewed findings of Derrick de Kerckhove suggest a great majority of Fisheries Act environmental reviews over the last decade were completed well within recommended timelines.
Nor was there a bottleneck of projects being held up by a clogged review process, he said.
"We didn't find any. Even when the input was high, it seemed to be handled very well."
De Kerckhove, a University of Toronto PhD candidate, analyzed 10 years worth of data from Department of Fisheries and Oceans annual reports on the progress of environmental assessments triggered under the Fisheries Act. That legislation generates more such reviews than almost any other — anywhere from 7,700 to more than 12,000 in a single year.