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Today’s mailbox: Voting concerns

Letters to the editor published March 26

Which party will protect the places we love?

When your vote is at stake, every political party will say they care about the environment. But we have to dig deeper to find out if they’re being honest. This election, we’re helping voters ask the right questions so they can make an informed decision at the ballot box.

The day the election was announced, we sent a survey to all party leaders asking for their position on 15 important environmental issues. We’ve given them two weeks to respond before we publish the results in the media. If you care about the health of our water, land, and climate, these answers will give you essential information about how the Liberals, Yukon Party, and NDP stack up.

As candidates begin knocking on your door, ask them for their position on these issues and tell them you’ll be voting for the party with a real plan to protect the places we love.

Which party will finally put a stop to wild west mining?

Unregulated placer mining is chewing up the landscape and destroying wildlife habitat. In regions like Dawson, mineral staking has been allowed to continue before a land use plan is even finalized – an obvious violation of treaty rights. Many of our mining laws date back to the Gold Rush, meaning they completely ignore environmental impacts. The next Yukon government must put the future of Yukoners ahead of the mining industry. Ask your candidates if they will:

• Finalize land use planning before allowing further mineral staking or exploration

• Bring Yukon’s mining laws into the 21st century

Which party will protect our water?

Water is our most precious resource, and it’s time we started treating it that way. It’s completely irresponsible to approve industrial projects without first assessing the impacts on water, but that is exactly what is happening. The next Yukon government must make science-based decisions that conserve our water for future generations. Ask your candidates if they will:

• Prohibit placer mining in undisturbed wetlands

• Pass legislation to protect water as required by the Umbrella Final Agreement

Which party will act on the climate emergency?

The pandemic has taught us that drastic collective action is possible when we take a threat seriously. There is no excuse for Yukon to continue dragging its heels on the switch to renewable energy. The next Yukon government must stop investing in fossil fuels and lead the way on a cleaner future. Ask your candidates if they will:

• Set firm targets for cutting emissions in line with the Paris Agreement

• Keep fracking and all oil and gas development out of Yukon

• Build a major wind energy project to power Yukon homes

Nature has helped so many of us get through the pandemic and it’s our duty to preserve it for our children and grandchildren. Let’s elect a government that takes this responsibility seriously. Stay tuned for the survey results.

Donald J Roberts

Chair Yukoners Concerned

Dear Editor,

I’ve been told that if I really care about something and I really want to effect change, then a letter to the editor is a good idea. Therefore I am appealing to you to help out with this.

The problem is the snow. The toll it’s taking on my back and my pocketbook is becoming too great for me not to say something. I mean, every day I just get the deck cleared off for safe landing of the night’s new snowfall. Dog owners will testify that the snow falls faster than they can clean up the poop; this will lead to spring messes everywhere.

In a serious vein, potential flooding is on everyone’s minds. The City of Whitehorse has suggested that snow can be removed from properties to make drainage less of an issue. City and YG budgets will certainly suffer from snow removal costs, as will many property owners.

I’ve tried appealing to higher powers, but the snow started falling exponentially faster. I’ve tried incantations in various languages, but I just get more snow on my tongue. So I’ve decided to turn to you. As editor, I know you’re the type of “buck stops here” person that we need. Could you please do something?

Gerald Haase

Marsh Lake

Hydraulic fracturing an election topic again?

The correspondence between YG and Chance Oil Limited shows significant uncertainty about the proponent’s intentions.

The initial request from YG (Oil and Gas Branch, Appendix A) was a maintenance request for the four modern, suspended test wells and four historical wells from 2012, 2013 at Eagle Plains. This proposal changed significantly since last fall.

Open for public review (until March 29th) is Chance Oil’s most recent proposal for ‘Well Maintenance and Winter Activities’ which looks more like a production. The company applies for abandonment of 3 wells (2 modern and 1 historic) a change into re-injection wells of the remaining 2 modern wells and Extended Flow Testing (EFT) for 3 historic wells.

It appears that the proponent has plans exceeding this proposal which calls for a cumulative impact assessment for years to come if the Government chooses to allow extraction. The Eagle Plains area is known for its tight shale gas resources (references available), and the proponent is obviously not expecting conventional resources according to the following statements in the proposal:

“The only wells which have the best potential to produce natural gas are M-59, M-08 and J-19” (historic wells proposed for EFT). (pg. 14)

“The information obtained from EFTs is critical to determining the future development plan for each discovery.”(pg.17)

“The M-59, M-08, J-19 are predominantly natural gas wells.” (pg. 19)

Yukoners are aware of the detrimental impact of hydraulic fracturing (also called unconventional natural gas extraction) on water resources. About 16 million liter of water are required per fracking job in an area with limited and seasonal water flow.

Since this is supposed to be a non-production project many thousand cubic meters of natural gas will be flared off in the environment. Does this align with YG’s action plan for climate change?

A detailed cumulative impact study is necessary to understand the consequences for the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

The proponent classifies the timing of the project in the winter as “a season of lowest importance for the ecology of the PCH”. Another assumption in the proponent’s document declares the winter time as “free of stressors”. This does not align with research done by caribou experts. All the caribou need undisturbed feeding conditions in the winter since energy requirements are higher. Pregnant cows are particularly sensitive to disturbance in the winter when they try to find enough lichen. In their YESAB comment (Northern Cross Multi-Well project, 2014) the Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) declares: “whatever happens in the winter affects the survival, affects the pregnancy the next year and virtually every aspect of productivity from age of first reproduction to calf survival” (Russell 2000).

A zone of influence can be as far reaching as 30km on a plateau. As the proponent noted (pg. 52): “According to a recent study of Russell and Gunn (2017) caribou avoid projects within a 30km buffer zone.”

If these type of proposals are not rejected, how can we protest natural gas development in ANWR?

Angela Sabo

Whitehorse

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