2010-11-24

Pacific BioEnergy plans wood pellet plant expansion in British Columbia

Pacific BioEnergy is undertaking an ambitious expansion of its wood pellet plant in Prince George, B.C., which will make the facility the largest of its kind in Canada.

The $24 million construction phase at the wood pellet plant involves the installation of a new in-feed line, which is designed to handle bush grind, which is wood waste residual from the bush.

The expanded plant will utilize more mountain pine beetle killed wood and other waste wood from the forests surrounding Prince George.

Looking to new markets

It’s no secret that we’re still feeling the effects of the global economic downturn.

In our area, the devastating effects of the mountain pine beetle and the drastic slump in the U.S. housing market have brought hardship to the forestry industry and there continues to be challenges in replacing those employment opportunities.

As a government, we continue to seek new markets, attracting investment and creating jobs for British Columbians.

2010-11-22

Beetle kill linked to warmer temperatures

Bark beetles make regular headlines in Colorado, but the copper-hued forests they are creating now stretch from the Centennial State all the way into the heart of the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia and Alberta.

At a Society of Environmental Journalists conference last month in Montana, Glacier National Park officials said that the park, which with its fast-melting glaciers is becoming the poster child for the effects of climate change in North America, is beginning to see the very first signs of its own bark beetle troubles.

Though the reasons for the bark beetle outbreak throughout the Rockies are complex, many scientists in the region say one of the primary causes of the outbreak is warmer winter temperatures.


Canada may face softwood complaint

Canada could face another prosecution for cheating under the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

The U.S. government could file a case to the international arbitration court in London as early as Friday after a 40-day consultation process to iron out the dispute ended in futility earlier this week

The U.S. Trade Representative's office has complained to the Canadian government that British Columbia used the mountain pine beetle infestation as an excuse to dramatically increase the export of cut-rate lumber into the American market.


Survey shows reduction in number of pine beetle attacks

Aerial surveys have shown a first-time reduction in the number of mountain pine beetle attacks, according to the Alberta government.

“Surveys confirm the number of new trees attacked by mountain pine beetles have declined from a year ago, and that there were no in-flights of beetles from B.C. last summer,” Sustainable Resources Development Minister Mel Knight said in a Nov. 9 press release.

Sustainable Resources Development spokesman Duncan MacDonnell said cold temperatures during last winter is one of the factors thought to have contributed to the reduction.


Half of BC pines dead from fossil fuel pollution. Is it over?

Our earth is overheating at a rate unprecedented in geologic history. BC is overheating twice as fast. The decimation of our pine forests is one of the many eco-collapses emerging from our overheating landscape.

Half our pine trees have been eaten alive in just the last nine years. An area five times the size of Vancouver Island is being attacked by a killing plague of billions of native pine beetles. Nothing like this has ever been witnessed. A study published in the journal, Nature, concluded that "the current outbreak in British Columbia, Canada, is an order of magnitude larger in area and severity than all previous recorded outbreaks." One analyst calls the devastation "probably the biggest landscape-level change since the ice age."

The force that unleashed this wholesale collapse is simple -- humans chose dirty and deadly fossil fuels instead of cleaner, sustainable energy sources. Fortunately we have easy ways in BC to quickly switch much of our dirty energy to cleaner, hopeful alternatives that will never run out. But if we don't switch soon then such eco-collapses will broaden and accelerate, threatening our way of life, our economy and our security.


2010-11-11

Taseko to revamp Prosperity Mine proposal

B.C.-based Taseko Mines will submit a new proposal for the Prosperity gold and copper mine southwest of Williams Lake once it has studied the reasons its original plan was rejected, the company says..

CEO Russell Hallbauer agrees the project should meet tough environmental standards and says the company will work to address green issues.

Prosperity Mine was touted as an $800-million project that would create 700 jobs in the Williams Lake region, which has been hit hard by the pine beetle epidemic and the economic downturn in the forest industry.


Clearwater clear of pine beetles, for now

There’s no hint of mountain pine beetles in the Clearwater Forest. Keeping it that way is an ongoing challenge, says Tom Daniels, forestry superintendent for West Fraser Timber in Sundre.

An aerial survey performed by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development tracks the tree-killing insects throughout Alberta, showing the Clearwater Forest west of Rocky Mountain House in West Central Alberta sandwiched between two infested areas, with beetles found north of the Pembina River and south of the Bow Valley.

That’s uncomfortably close to vulnerable pine stands in the West Central region of the province, Daniels said on Tuesday.


Weather, tree removal beating back pine beetle

Alberta is making headway in its fight against the mountain pine beetle.

Aerial surveys conducted across the province in August and September show the number of new trees attacked by the beetle are down from a year ago.

And there were no incursions of beetles from British Columbia last summer.


Culling, cold weather eases Alberta’s pine beetle burden

The strategic culling of trees infested with mountain pine beetles, along with extreme temperature fluctuations last winter, is being credited for progress in the Alberta government’s battle against the expensive pests.

On Tuesday, the province revealed aerial surveys which pinpoint locations and counts of trees attacked this year and last.

“Surveys confirm the number of new trees attacked by mountain pine beetle have declined from a year ago, and that there were no in-flights of beetles from B.C. last summer,” Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight said in a news release.


Alberta claims progress in war on pine beetles

Alberta, one of two western Canadian provinces battling a more than decade-old infestation of mountain pine beetles, claimed progress in the fight on Tuesday but warned the war is not yet won.

The infestation in Alberta and British Columbia has cut into supplies of major forestry companies including West Fraser Timber Co (WFT.TO), Canfor Corp (CFP.TO), Tolko Industries and a host of independent sawmills.

Surveys indicate fewer trees were attacked in Alberta this summer than a year ago, and there were no migration of new beetles over the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia where the outbreak began in the mid-1990s, officials said.


2010-11-07

Canada's Mills Lumber Back to Life, Fueled by Chinese

Timber giants, squeezed by the twin tongs of a U.S. housing slump and a global recession, are starting to stir again in Canada's north woods thanks to insatiable demand from China.

Here in the Lodgepole pine forest 370 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, workers at one mill move 40,000 logs a day through an assembly line, producing 13-foot-long studs for the Chinese construction industry. Most of the wood will be used to build scaffolding or the forms that concrete is poured into. But the mill's owner, Canfor Forest Products Inc., hopes to be able to export other products, too.

In the meantime, the loggers are grateful for the Chinese demand. The Lodgepole stands were infested with the mountain pine beetle over the past decade, and the voracious bugs killed off trees across millions of acres, leaving the timber prone to splintering. The combination of the bugs' raging appetites and Chinese builders' prodigious output means that producers here will export every log they can process.

1 B.C. mine rejected but another OK'd

The federal government has given the thumbs down to one mining project in B.C.'s central Interior while approving another similar project in the region.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice said cabinet has rejected the Taseko Mines Ltd. project because of its adverse environmental impact and the damage it would cause Fish Lake and dozens of connecting streams.

The mine was touted as an $800-million project that would create 700 jobs in the Williams Lake region, which has been hard-hit by the pine beetle epidemic and the economic downturn in the forest industry.