Saskatchewan, Ottawa carbon tax case ‘monumental’ for Constitution: expert

REGINA — Legal experts, government officials and industry leaders will all watch this week as Saskatchewan and Ottawa head to court over the constitutionality of a federally imposed carbon tax.

The federal government is set to impose a carbon levy on provinces that do not have one of their own starting in April.

Ottawa’s price on pollution starts at a minimum of $20 a tonne and rises $10 annually until 2022.

The Saskatchewan Party government has always been opposed to the idea. The province says the tax would hurt the economy and feels its own plan for emissions reductions is sufficient. SOURCE

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Supreme Court rules energy companies cannot abandon old wells

Supreme Court of Canada has overturned Redwater Energy lower court decision

An orphan well site near Carstairs, Alta., awaiting proper abandonment and reclamation. (Government of Alberta)

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that energy companies cannot abandon their responsibility to clean up old oil and natural gas wells in the case of bankruptcy.

The court ruled 5-2 to overturn the earlier ruling. In doing that, it said that bankruptcy is not a license to ignore environmental regulations.

The Redwater case has been watched closely across the country. Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan all intervened in the case, supporting the Alberta Energy Regulator’s position that the polluter must pay for clean-up before creditors are paid back their loans.

Alberta has been dealing with a tsunami of orphaned oil and gas wells in the past five years. In 2014, the Orphan Well Association listed fewer than 200 wells to be reclaimed. The most recent numbers show there are 3,127 wells that need to be plugged or abandoned, and a further 1,553 sites that have been abandoned but still need to be reclaimed. MORE

 

Bankrupt energy companies await key Supreme Court ruling on old oil wells

The decision could have implications for banks, apart from junior and intermediate oil producers’ access to capital

Image result for abandoned oil wells alberta
Pumpjacks, like this one near Calgary, are used to pump crude oil out of the ground after a well has been drilled. Thousands of oil wells have been abandoned across Alberta without proper remediation. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Trustees for bankrupt energy companies will learn Thursday whether they can refuse to pay clean up costs for old and inactive oil and gas wells in Alberta.

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to rule on whether the trustee for bankrupt Redwater Energy Corp. can hand over the remediation responsibilities for old and inactive oil and gas wells to Alberta’s Orphan Well Association — while still keeping its more valuable wells and facilities, which can be sold to repay the company’s debt.

The case has been closely watched in the Calgary oilpatch and will have major implications across the country’s resource sectors as the Supreme Court will determine whether debt holders have a higher priority over environmental clean-up responsibilities in bankruptcy cases. MORE

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Can Slave Labour Charges Against Canadian Company Be Heard in Court in Canada? Supreme Court of Canada Hears Arguments Today

Protest at Nevsun Mining AGM 2017

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada is hearing an appeal by Nevsun Resources Limited (TSX: NSU/NYSE MKT: NSU) of lower court rulings that accusations against it regarding the use of forced labour at its Bisha mine in Eritrea should be heard in British Columbia, not Eritrea. MiningWatch Canada is not directly involved in the lawsuit itself, but we are intervening in the Supreme Court appeal because we are deeply concerned that the victims of abuse in connection with Canadian mining operations internationally should be able to seek justice in Canada.

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia upheld the ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia rejecting efforts by Vancouver-based Nevsun to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three Eritrean men who allege they were forced to work at the company’s Bisha mine in that country. Nevsun was granted leave to appeal that judgment to the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition to the plaintiffs in the case, a number of groups will be intervening along with MiningWatch: Amnesty International Canada, together with the International Commission of Jurists; the Mining Association of CanadaEarthRights International and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law; and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. The factums for the appeal are available on the Supreme Court’s case information page. MORE

Pipeline spat pitting hereditary leaders against elected band councils reveals intricacies of B.C. Indigenous governance

This situation is sort of a uniquely B.C. problem. Because the First Nations there don’t have treaties title over traditional lands hasn’t been dealt with

Elected chiefs are elected under processes established either through the Indian Act, the First Nations Elections Act, band custom or, in the case of self-governing First Nations, under the band’s constitution, explains The Canadian Encyclopedia. James Dempsey, a Native Studies professor at the University of Alberta, said in many places, a chief and council has simply become the accepted form of government.

“But you also have others that are trying to, to whatever degree they can, re-institute the traditional way of government and sometimes it comes into conflict with the chief and council,” he said.

From the time of birth the child would be groomed or tutored to be a wise, strong and responsible leader

Hereditary chiefs are just that, hereditary — a traditional form of government.

“Before non-native contact, a Wet’suwet’en heir began their journey to becoming a hereditary chief while still inside the mother’s womb,” says the Wet’suwet’en website. “Elders, Shaman’s and Chiefs would often feel the womb of an expectant mother and determine if the baby was destined to be a future Chief or Shaman. From the time of birth the child would be groomed or tutored to be a wise, strong and responsible leader.” MORE