Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

There’s nothing clean about the Site C dam

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There is something wrong in BC. There is a provincial general election coming up (May 2017) and the premier seems to be determined to secure her legacy by building mega-projects of dubious or even negative value before she gets kicked out of office. Hopefully, the new government in Ottawa will do something to restrain this effort to change the face of BC before more damage is done.

 

Copied from Amnesty International

Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
Canadian organizations condemn Peace River hydroelectric mega-project for human rights violations

Dear Prime Minister,

Our organizations are profoundly concerned that construction of the Site C dam is being pushed ahead despite the conclusion of a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment that it would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land; harm rare plants and other biodiversity; make fishing unsafe for at least a generation; and submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

The Site C dam is not just another resource development project. It is one of the largest such projects currently underway in Canada. For First Nations such as West Moberly and Prophet River, which continue to challenge the project in court, flooding the Peace Valley would take away one of the last remaining places where they can still practice their cultures and traditions. In other words, it would violate fundamental rights protected by Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

When the federal and provincial governments approved the project, they claimed that the severe harm that would be caused by Site C was ‘justified’ by the energy and the jobs it will produce. We strongly disagree.

Ignoring the rights of Indigenous peoples can never be justified. Furthermore, in this day and age there are far less damaging and less costly methods that could be used to meet British Columbia’s energy needs – many of which would create more jobs than Site C.

Last month, Canada played a crucial role in achieving an historic global accord on climate change. The Paris Agreement calls on governments to increase the use of renewable energy but also reaffirmed the obligation of all governments to acknowledge and respect human rights, including the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In other words, energy projects that violate human rights are not clean or green.

Prime Minister, we urge you and your Cabinet to put the principles you championed in Paris into practice in Canada. We urge that construction of the Site C dam be halted immediately, that all permits be rescinded, and that the previous government’s approval of this project be re-examined. It is crucial that the federal and provincial governments work collaboratively with the Indigenous peoples of the region to reach common agreement on a long-term plan to protect Indigenous land use in the Peace Valley.

The people of Treaty 8 have said no to Site C. Any government that is truly committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, to respecting human rights, and to promoting truly clean energy must listen.

Signed,

Alliance 4 Democracy
The Anglican Eco-Justice Unit, Diocese of New Westminster
Amnesty International Canada
Blue Planet Project
BC Women’s Institute
Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion – BROKE
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Friends Service Committee
Council of Canadians
Christian Peacemakers Team, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) Vancouver
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
CPAWS-BC
David Suzuki Foundation
Earthroots
Ecojustice
Greenpeace Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Patagonia
Peace Valley Environment Association
Peace Valley Landowner Association
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)
Skeena Wild Conservation Trust
Sierra Club BC
West Coast Environmental Law
Wilderness Committee
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Written by Stephen Rees

February 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

Posted in energy, Environment, politics

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One Response

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  1. Further to the loss of indigenous people’s rights are the issues of climate change and land use.

    Dams are not friendly to the land, and though they are a lot safer with respect to emissions than coal-fired power, they are not without methane releases from decaying underwater organic material (trees, grasses, soil). That is arguably more problematic than its temporary CO2 emissions during construction.

    Where the BC government falls very, very short is with respect to long range planning. BC’s glaciers are expected to be practically non-existent by the end of the century, and our currently abundant hydro power will thus be greatly threatened by climate change. What will be perverse is if / when Site C’s power is used in the LNG industry with its fugitive methane and transportation-related CO2 problems … that is, once world gas prices rebound in a decade or more, and if competitors in the Chinese fossil fuel consumption market diminish in number.

    http://www.unbc.ca/releases/climate-change-and-bcs-glaciers

    Regarding land use, the value to agriculture and long term provincial food security of the soils slated for inundation by Site C has been grossly underestimated. Wendy Holm, an agrologist, analyzed the area and found that the unique characteristics of the sheltered microclimate of the Peace River Valley, the high insolation rate above 53 degrees north latitude during the growing season, and the very rich Class 1-3 soils at Site C, are together capable of producing enough vegetables and protein to feed one million people a year if farmed more intensely than with the current hay crops and pasture. This is very important as we know that our food source today is very far away and has been diminished by record drought. Canada could become a net exporter of food as the planet warms and the most viable farm land shifts northward. The value of a plethora of crops would be in the $1 billion range annually at Site C, and would cover the cost of the project within a decade. This information was published in several mainstream and alternate print media, all to be ignored by the province.

    http://commonsensecanadian.ca/peace-valleys-extraordinary-agricultural-values-threatened-site-c-dam/

    http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p63919/96815E.pdf

    A long range planner would recommend diving into non-dam renewables immediately, rebuilding the electrical grid to accommodate intermittency and long range transmission of power via high voltage DC cables, further protecting the ALR, fostering an energized agricultural sector with a focus on conservation tillage, and incrementally rebuilding our cities to represent sustainable models of urbanism.

    And forget LNG. It’s a greatly hyped pipe dream.

    MB

    February 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm


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