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Submission + - Nine years of censorship (nature.com)

mdsolar writes: Early one Thursday morning last November, Kristi Miller-Saunders was surprised to receive a visit from her manager. Miller-Saunders, a molecular geneticist at the Canadian fisheries agency, had her reasons to worry about attention from above. On numerous occasions over the previous four years, government officials had forbidden her from talking to the press or the public about her work on the genetics of salmon — part of a broad policy that muzzled government scientists in Canada for many years. At one point, a brawny ‘minder’ had actually accompanied her to a public hearing to make sure that she didn’t break the rules.

But the meeting last autumn was different. Miller-Saunders’ manager at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in Nanaimo walked in with a smile and gave her advance notice that the newly elected government would be opening up scientific communication: she and other federal researchers would finally be free to speak to the press. “It was like a weight was being lifted,” she says. Important findings on climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, toxicology and wildlife conservation that had been restricted for so long could now be openly discussed.

Canadian scientists celebrated the move far and wide. Shark researcher Steve Campana danced in his office at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, where he had relocated after leaving the DFO because of the communications constraints and other limitations.

Six months later, the government is loosening its grip on communications but the shift at some agencies has not been as swift and comprehensive as many had hoped. And with the newfound freedom to speak, the full impact of the former restrictions is finally becoming clear. Canadian scientists and government representatives are opening up about what it was like to work under the former policy and the kind of consequences it had. Some of the officials who imposed the rules are talking about how the restrictions affected the morale and careers of researchers. Their stories hint at how governments control communications in even more politically repressive countries such as China, and suggest what might happen in Canada if the political winds reverse.

Submission + - The Canadians Are Coming (vancouverobserver.com)

mdsolar writes: Hundreds of Canadians will join tens of thousands of people in the streets of New York City next weekend for one of the largest climate change mobilizations in history.

Renewable energy advocates of all ages will be gathering as a part of the Tar Sands Free bloc at the march, which will coincide with the UN climate summit in New York.

"While this will be one of the largest climate marches in history, it also isn't just about size. It's about showing that people are standing alongside those impacted most by climate change and extreme extraction," said Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, who will be marching in New York. "People are impacted from the extraction of carbon polluting industries such as the Tar Sands and fracking, as well as the way to the extreme impacts of climate change."

Travelling from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and Halifax, among other cities, the Canadian marchers will join communities impacted by climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and Indigenous peoples resisting tar sands and other extreme extraction both in Canada and abroad.

Submission + - Greens demand State hand over Keystone docs (thehill.com)

mdsolar writes: An environmental group is demanding the State Department fork over all of its communications over changes that were made to the final Keystone XL pipeline environmental impact review.

Friends of the Earth filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Monday over a correction the State Department made in its final environmental analysis on the controversial pipeline.

The change reflected a substantial increase in the number of deaths that could be caused if Keystone is rejected. The revision said that State now estimates 18 to 30 people would be killed each year from the increase in oil shipments by rail without construction of the pipeline. Earlier estimates had said six deaths but that was under a three-month period.

Friends of the Earth called the statistics "highly questionable" and wants to know what prompted the change. They are asking for all staff communications over a five-month span.

"More questionable still is what prompted the State Department to update these particular numbers while neglecting numbers that show how Keystone XL would catalyze an increase in emissions," said Luisa Abbot Galvao of Friends of the Earth.

In the final impact review, the department said Keystone XL would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, a finding that hasn't sat well with environmentalists.

Friends of the Earth wants all records between State's staff and lobbyists or other individuals representing pipeline developer TransCanada, and Environmental Resources Management, the contractor that worked on the final environmental review.

Its request asks for all of the communication, contracts or agreements made between State and TransCanada from January to June of this year.

It also asks for documents on the oil rail analysis, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation measures compiled in the same time period.

Submission + - Canada-to-NYC power line receives environmental approval (westfaironline.com)

mdsolar writes: The U.S. Department of Energy has completed its environmental review of a $2.2 billion project that will run a 330-mile electric line from Canada to New York City.

The 1,000-megawatt transmission cables will have a 5-inch diameter and run underwater or underground for the line’s entire length. The project, called the Champlain Hudson Power Express, will siphon hydro and wind-produced energy from the Canadian border to a converter station that will be built in Astoria, Queens, and feed into the Consolidated Edison system.

Transmission Developers Inc., the Albany-based company developing the project, claims the transmission line would reduce energy costs for customers by as much as $650 million per year, creating an average of 300 construction jobs over the four years it takes to build.

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