Independent economist and Common Sense Canadian contributor Erik Andersen's open letter to the leaders of BC's four major political parties on the eve of the May 14 provincial election. "On the evidence there seems no case for the development of Site C. Hydro is financially crippled because it not only produced fictional narratives about future demand, but worse, acted on these exaggerations with tens of billions in contractual long-term obligations with IPP’s. Secondly, to knowingly build a new generation facility that needs to sell at $100,000 per GWhr or more in order to break even - when the regional demand for electricity is decidedly weak and expected to remain so for a long while, is absurd."
Read this story from The Alaska Highway News on one of the farming families in the path of the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River, named by the annual Outdoor Recreation Council as this year's "most endangered river". (April 9, 2013)
The Peace River is the most endangered river in B.C. and Site C’s potential approval in the next year or so is mainly to blame, according to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C (ORC).
The group solicits reviews and nominations for B.C.’s most endangered rivers from 100,000 members across B.C. The news release declaring the Peace this year’s dubious winner sites widespread opposition, including unanimous First Nations disapproval, and an $8 billion total cost with no domestic need for the power the dam would generate.
“The reason the Peace is on the list is threefold,” said the organizations chair of rivers, Mark Angelo.
“One, the dam is going to have extensive impacts, there’s no question about that. It’s going to impact wintering animal habitats, sacred cultural sites, recreational values, class one agricultural land.
“Secondly, we got so much feedback – nominations on the Peace literally dominated the feedback this year. Clearly it’s evident there is a lot of opposition by those closest to the river who would be the most affected. Aboriginal communities are very much set against the project. That was clearly evident in the responses we got.
“Thirdly if you look at the most recent BC Hydro energy forecast, we are in a surplus position in this province. BC Hydro is predicting a surplus of at least several years, if not more. The need for the dam for domestic power has vanished. So I think if you look at the BC Hydro energy forecast, the impacts of the dam, the rampant opposition and the fact that we received a huge number of responses from your region, clearly the Peace deserves to be in the number one position.”
However, Dave Conway, a spokesperson for BC Hydro, said that the demand for electricity will go up over the next few decades.
“Site C is required to help meet the future electricity needs of the province,” he said.
“BC Hydro’s current forecast shows electricity demand increasing by approximately 40 per cent in the next 20 years, driven by a projected population increase of more than one million residents and economic expansion. Subject to approvals, Site C would be a source of clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity for more than 100 years.”
Angelo said the need for the energy that was given years ago as justification for the project has disappeared.
“Several years ago we were being told we clearly needed Site C for domestic power. If you look at BC Hydro’s forecast, just in 2013 we’re talking about 5,200 kilowatt hours of surplus. If you look at 2015 you’re talking about a surplus 5,500 kilowatt hours. We’re in a surplus for quite a while to come so there’s clearly no need for the Site C dam. If you look at how people justified the dam several years ago, those needs simply are not there.”
BC Hydro’s argument that the power is required for future liquid natural gas projects is unfounded, Angelo added.
“LNG is still very uncertain,” he said. “A lot of (the interest) is based on current premiums and there’s pressure from a lot of the Asian markets to lower premiums substantially. So there may not be as much value in LNG in five years as there is currently.”
Andrea Morison, spokesperson for the Peace Valley Environment Association, agreed. She said BC Hydro customers and taxpayer should not be on the hook just for over $8 billion to subsidize the LNG industry – let alone, Morison added, the fact that dam projects often go significantly over budget.
“Christy Clark – about a year ago – said it would take 100 per cent of Site C to power just one proposed LNG plant and just a couple weeks ago she stated point blank she’s in favour of Site C because we need it for LNG,” Morison said.
“That tells you right there we need it to support the LNG industry, but there’s no statement going along with that saying the industry is going to pay for the dam. It’s a Crown corporation, so the ratepayers are going to pay for it.”
She added the ranking by the ORC shows people in the province really care about the issue.
The period for submission of written commentary on the project closed April 4. A joint review panel of three people is expected to be appointed this summer by the federal and provincial governments.
Ken Boon, who lives on property in the valley that would be lost to the proposed flood area of the reservoir created by the dam, said he has made submissions to the ORC in previous years as well as this year.
“The kinds of things we talk about are the vast cost of it, the burden it would be to the ratepayers of B.C. and basically the environmental train wreck it would be,” Boon said.
Read more: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/article/20130409/FORTSTJOHN0101/130409935/-1/fortstjohn/in-the-danger-zone
I was recently asked by a reader what it is I want, presumably in the way of government. I want a government committed to the preservation of farmland - not one that gives it away in Delta and destroys it the Peace River country. I want a government that is committed in fact to the concerns of First Nations. I want a government that does not spend public money on party business. I want a different attitude than expounding tenets of the Fraser Institute where help for people is given grudgingly and then only because they must; I want a government that looks after people because it is the right thing to do.
Yesterday, I joined several thousand British Columbians in submitting my comments to the environmental assessment process for the proposed Site C Dam in northeast BC. While it will likely take a few days for the most recent submissions to be registered on the government website for the process, judging by early indications, this was one of the largest-ever responses by the BC public to an environmental assessment - a clear sign of how much this issue matters to British Columbians. The Sierra Club and civic engagement driver LeadNow teamed up to facilitate online submissions and are reporting over 3,400 comments filed by yesterday's deadline...Herewith my own letter to the Review Panel.
Premier Christy Clark wants BC citizens to subsidize the oil and gas industry with a $10 Billion taxpayer-funded dam. Though she won't put it quite like that, that's precisely the implication of her recent comments to Global TV: "You can't power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro's going to have to build Site C - we're in favour of making that happen." But, as the deadline for submitting public comments to the environmental assessment for Site Dam approaches, do British Columbians really want to foot the bill for the dam and flood 20,000 acres of quality farmland and wildlife habitat - all to subsidize the oil and gas industry with cheap power?
Few places on Earth have been untouched by humans, according to a study in the journal Science. Satellite images taken from hundreds of kilometres above the planet reveal a world that we have irrevocably changed within a remarkably short time. Although industrial projects like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline or the recently defeated mega-quarry in Ontario typically grab the headlines and bring out public opposition, it’s often the combined impacts of a range of human activities on the same land base that threaten to drive nature beyond critical tipping points. Once those are passed, rapid ecological changes such as species extinction can occur.
Read this story from the Canadian Press on the opposition of Alberta First Nations to a proposed dam in BC that would affect their territories downstream. (March 3, 2013)
EDMONTON - Alberta aboriginals are lining up against an energy project deemed crucial to the B.C. economy.
At least six bands in the northern part of the province — supported by the Alberta government — have registered major concerns with B.C. Hydro's plans to build another dam on the Peace River, saying the utility still hasn't understood the effects of previous projects on the Athabasca Delta and refuses to study them.
"It's a very, very narrow approach to environmental assessment and we have so much concern," said Melody Lepine, spokeswoman for the Mikisew Cree.
B.C. Hydro is currently accepting public comments on the environmental assessment of its proposed Site C Dam, which would be located south of Fort St. John. The project would generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity and require a dam a kilometre long and 60 metres high, creating an 83-kilometre reservoir about three times the current width of the river.
But the Alberta bands point out Site C would be B.C. Hydro's third dam on the river. The giant Bennett Dam is further upstream.
They say the provincially owned company is refusing to look at the cumulative effects of those dams. They're angry that B.C. Hydro isn't including the delta in its study area, despite abundant evidence that B.C.'s dams are causing big problems in Alberta.
"By not including the delta in their assessment they can't mitigate potential impacts," said Lepine. "They don't even care.
"That's the biggest issue for us — just include the delta."
The Bennett Dam was built in the 1960s, before environmental assessments were required. None was conducted.
But research since has documented significant impacts from the dam on the Athabasca Delta, despite being hundreds of kilometres downstream.
The Northern River Basins Study from the mid-1990s found nearly half of the wetlands had disappeared by 1989. Animals that depend on them, such as muskrats or ducks, had lost up to 90 per cent of their numbers.
Annual flooding patterns, which refresh many lakes and flush streambeds, were severely disrupted. River levels during normal high-water periods were found to be significantly lower post-Bennett.
"There is no question that the lack of flooding has caused extensive damage to ecosystems throughout the delta area," summarized ecologist David Schindler.
Those conclusions were supported by the Indian Claims Commission, which strongly agreed that the treaty rights of the Athabasca Chipewyan band had been violated by the damage inflicted by the Bennett Dam.
"By declining to take reasonable steps to prevent or to mitigate environmental damages to the delta, the Crown has forsaken the legitimate interests of all Canadians and certainly the treaty rights of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation," wrote commission chairman Jim Prentice in 1998.
The commission recommended a negotiated settlement. The federal government, however, refused to talk and the band accepted a $4 million out-of-court settlement in 2002.
Now, the Athabasca Chipewyan, the Little Red River Cree, the Fort Chipewyan Metis, the Deninu K'e, the Mikisew Cree and the Dene Tha have all filed objections to B.C. Hydro's Site C environmental assessment. They say the assessment's study area stops at Peace Point, upstream of the delta, and that the research won't consider how the ongoing impacts of the Bennett Dam will add to those of Site C.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has instructed B.C. Hydro to provide a "narrative description" of the Bennett's effects on the delta, which would summarize existing research.
That's not good enough, say the bands.
"In light of the massive environmental changes that have taken place in the delta since the construction of the Bennett and Peace Canyon dams, Site C may be the final blow to the Nations' ability to access and harvest resources in the area," say documents filed on behalf of four of the bands.
The Alberta government is backing them up.
"Alberta continues to have concerns about the extent of the potential downstream impact of the Site C project," said a letter from Robert Harrison of Alberta Environment, who said B.C. Hydro should either include the delta in its study or explain its refusal.
"It is impossible to determine the impact of Site C without considering the cumulative effect of the other hydro facilities."
Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/edmonton/Alberta+aboriginals+oppose+Hydros+Site+project+needs/8042321/story.html
After claiming a new dam on the Peace River, Site C, would be required to power Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants on BC's coast, Premier Christy Clark rolled back Clean Energy Act laws to allow gas companies to burn their own supply in order to provide even cheaper energy to their operations. Yet, Site C has remained on the table - and now BC Hydro's CEO is touting the crown utility's intention to make LNG "cleaner" by supplying these operations with public hydro power. Read this story from News 1130 on the subject. (Feb. 25, 2013)
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC Hydro is offering itself up as a way to make liquefied natural gas (LNG) cleaner.
It could potentially mean a lot of pressure for the crown corporation. The more electricity that LNG producers want to use, the lower the greenhouse gas emissions, but the more demand it puts on BC Hydro.
President and CEO Charles Reid is telling producers he is here to help. “We’re flexible; we’ll work with you, we want to support your industry, and we’ll do whatever we can to do that.”
Reid’s comments came during the start of a two-day conference on LNG, which is being held in Downtown Vancouver.
You can expect to hear a lot about LNG in the coming months. Premier Christy Clark has put a lot of her re-election efforts on liquified natural gas, hoping that people will get excited. She’s hoping people will imagine the possibilities and says it could mean billions of dollars for the province.
Read more: http://www.news1130.com/2013/02/25/bc-hydro-wants-to-help-boost-lng-production-in-the-province/
Caleb Behn, a young, Indigenous law student from northeast BC and the subject of the forthcoming documentary film Fractured Land, will be at the Vancouver Public Library this Thursday evening to give a talk sponsored by Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada. Behn's traditional territories in the Peace Valley and Fort Nelson area are on the front lines of natural gas "fracking" operations, among numerous other heavy industrial activities. His presentation, titled "Indigenous Law as a Solution to Resource Conflict in Treaty 8" starts at 7 pm in the Vancouver Public Library's Alice McKay Room (350 W. Georgia).
Read this story from MacLean's Magazine on the impacts of the proposed Site C Dam on fish, birds and bats. (Jan. 29, 2013)
VICTORIA – Birds, bats, butterflies and fish are among the diverse range of wildlife species destined to suffer habitat destruction from BC Hydro’s proposed Site C hydroelectric project in northeastern British Columbia, says the environmental impact statement filed by the Crown corporation.
Hydro’s Site C environmental spokeswoman Siobhan Jackson said Tuesday the Crown corporation has proposed plans to reduce and prevent harm to area wildlife and ecosystems, but there will be home losses for the Bay-breasted warbler, migratory bull trout and Drummond’s thistle.
Among Hydro’s measures to reduce the potential loss from its proposed $7.9 billion project are special protective crossings for amphibians, slower turning turbines that allow fish escapes and fish-free wetlands to permit safer breeding for dragonflies.
Hydro also bills the dam’s proposed 83-kilometre, 9,300-hectare reservoir as the Peace Country’s newest tourist attraction, a huge instant lake with at least three separate boat launch areas and well-stocked with fish, with Hydro estimating a 230 per cent increase in fish habitat for rainbow trout.
The environmental impact statement also forecasts flooding more than 5,000 hectares of land, of which at least 3,800 hectares is agricultural land. The project will also flood First Nations heritage sites and force up to 20 families — many life-long ranchers — to move.
“Ultimately, the environmental assessment considers the project benefits and the project effects and balances the two in reaching their decision on whether an environmental assessment certificate should be granted,” said Jackson, who was in Fort St. John briefing local residents about the Site C environmental report.
A decision on the environmental viability of the proposed Site C project by the federal and B.C. environmental regulatory bodies is expected by next year.
Hydro says if the project is approved, it will be in operation by 2021.
Jackson said Hydro identified in its environmental impact statement what it called 22 valued components that are expected to undergo some level of change due to the project.
They include agriculture, transportation, outdoor recreation and tourism, air quality, noise and vibration, heritage resources and human health.
Jackson said Hydro determined four valued components will endure losses due to the project — fish and fish habitat, vegetation and ecological community, migratory birds and traditional use of heritage areas by First Nations.
Hydro’s environmental impact study found populations of three local fish species — Arctic grayling, migratory bull trout and mountain whitefish — could be lost due to the dam’s construction.
But Hydro’s study suggested those fish may be found in tributaries located upstream and downstream from the proposed project.
The study found Site C will result in the loss of bird habitat for Cape May and Bay-breasted warblers, Yellow Rail and Nelson’s sparrow owl.
Ecological impacts from the reservoir project include the loss of old and mature flood plain forests located near the reservoir and the loss of rare plants, including Drummond’s thistle and little bluestem.
The creation of the reservoir also means the loss of First Nations cultural areas at Bear Flats, Farrell Creek and Attachie, the study said.
Read more: http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/01/29/site-c-project-will-create-instant-lake-but-threatens-birds-bats-and-fish/
Jackson said the report highlights what Hydro believes will be expected increases in mercury levels in locally caught fish.
Eco-Footprint Founder Dr. Bill Rees on Resources, the 7 Billion and You
With human population exploding and demand for resources fast outstripping supply, Dr. Bill Rees, founder of the "eco-footprint" concept, calls for "a new cultural narrative that shifts the values of society from growth (getting bigger) to development (getting better) - from competitive individualism, greed and narrow self-interest toward community, cooperation and our collective interests in repairing the earth for survival."
Five Oil Spills in One Week: 'Accidents' or Business as Usual?
What do ExxonMobil, Enbridge, Suncor, CP Rail and a Michigan Utility have in common? They've all spilled oil within the past week. This latest round of disasters should give Canadian and US lawmakers pause as they contemplate new pipelines.
All Candidates Dialogue Wednesday Promises "Real Talk on Climate Change"
An all candidates dialogue on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver - featuring representatives from four different political parties and one independent candidate vying for office in the May 14 provincial election - will focus on solutions to climate change.
Anyone who has been following the sorry saga of inexplicable diseases and unusual mortality in BC's wild salmon will not be surprised that the information in Twyla Roscovich's documentary, Salmon Confidential, links the source of this trouble to the salmon farming industry. The surprise, however, is the impact of such information when its complexity is condensed to an intense 70 minutes.
Mother Nature, US Govt Chase Shell Out of Arctic
Shell Oil, the first energy company granted coveted Arctic drilling permits by the US Government, is shutting down operations for all of 2013, nearly as quickly as they began. Shell's hand is being forced by the Interior Department, following a scathing report which castigated the company for a series of misadventures in 2012 and early 2013.
Paul Simon Lends Song to Coastal First Nations' Anti-Tanker Video
A 2-minute video produced by Coastal First Nations - a group representing nine different aboriginal communities on BC's north and central coast - is underscored by the famous Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence." The video, which harkens back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in nearby Alaskan waters, was released around the 24th anniversary of that disaster, in order to voice opposition to the new threat from proposed tanker traffic on BC's coast.
'Heartwood' Explores Clash Between Different Visions for Future of Forestry
"Cortes is not just a bunch of crazy tree-huggers...We want to log our lands. We want a community forest," one of the subjects of the forthcoming documentary film Heartwood tells Vancouver-based director Daniel Pierce. The film explores the conflict over logging practices on a remote island on BC's south coast, which encapsulates a larger debate currently shaping the future of forestry in the province.
Why the NDP Can and Should Say No to Site C Dam
The BC NDP may finally coming to their senses on Site C Dam. On the heels of the release of new documents from BC Hydro in recent weeks, the Official Opposition is calling into question the crown corporation's proposed 1,100 Megawatt hydropower project. And so it should...With BC Hydro in virtual bankruptcy, skyrocketing hydro bills for consumers and businesses, a massive and escalating provincial debt and $80 Billion in additional contractual obligations for which taxpayers are on the hook, pushing ahead with Site C would be the height of fiscal recklessness for BC.
Working Together Through Idle No More - Ben West, Mandy Nahanee, Damien Gillis Web Chat
Damien Gillis hosts a google web video chat discussing how indigenous and non-indigenous peoples can work together through the growing Idle No More movement to address historical injustices and build a sustainable energy future. Featuring Squamish and Nisga'a First Nations member and protocol specialist Amanda Nahanee and Ben West, Tar Sands campaigner for ForestEthics.
The Different Faces of Idle No More - Web Chat
Watch this 10 min web chat, in which two young, indigenous men discuss their different experiences across the country with the growing Idle No More Movement.
Idle No More - Scenes from a Vancouver Train Station
On January 2, 2013, hundreds of First Nations and non-indigenous people converged on Vancouver's Waterfront Station for the latest Idle No More rally. The beating of drums and singing of traditional songs signaled this crowd's solidarity with the movement that is building across the country and beyond its borders.
Travelling Canada's Carbon Corridor - the Making of Fractured Land
Watch this presentation by Damien Gillis, co-director of Fractured Land - a documentary in production which examines the industrialization of northern Canada through the eyes of a young indigenous man named Caleb Behn - at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Kinder Morgan Vancouver Pipeline, Tanker Debate
On Oct 30, the Board of Change hosted a debate in Vancouver on American energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port to access new foreign markets with Alberta Tar Sands bitumen. Hear both sides of the story as representatives of Kinder Morgan and the shipping industry square off against an environmental activist, lawyer and filmmaker over the future of the world's "Greenest City", the province of BC and the planet.
Justice Cohen Gets Tough on Fish Farms - Inquiry Report Released
Video from the press conference on the release of the final report from the Cohen Commission into disappearing sockeye. Justice Bruce Cohen highlighted several key recommendations to protect wild salmon from open net pen aquaculture operations, including: removing the promotion of aquaculture from DFO's mandate, prioritizing the health of wild salmon over suitability for aquaculture when siting farms, and even removing some farms if more research into diseases shows they cannot safely coexist with wild fish.
Video: Pipelines "Job Killers" - Energy Workers Union Leader @ Defend Our Coast
Watch this powerhouse speech from Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union at the Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria explaining why his members are "diametrically opposed" to Tar Sands pipelines to BC's coast.
Video: Rafe Mair Honoured with Wilderness Committee's Eugene Rogers Award
The Wilderness Committee, Canada's largest member-based environmental organization, honoured hall of fame broadcaster and co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian Rafe Mair with its annual Eugene Rogers Award for outstanding contribution to environmental protection in BC at its AGM this past weekend.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 2 - LNG, Site C Dam and the Global Economy
In Part 2 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview of economist Erik Andersen, the two cover the plan to build Liquefied Natural Gas plants on BC's west coast - to sell natural gas to Asia - and the proposed Site C Dam. Andersen raises real concerns about investing in new dams and electrical infrastructure to supply industries like mines and LNG.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 1 - The 'Enronization' of BC Hydro
Part 1 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview with economist Andersen, delving deep into BC's troubled energy situation, including Hydro's broken forecasting model, rip-off private power projects, and massive debt and Enron-style accounting practices at our public utility - all driven by the shadowy private American corporation to which we've unwittingly handed over our energy sovereignty.