Connecticut regulators dealt a blow to pipeline company Spectra Energy Corp. this week by abandoning several utility proposals that would have relied on Spectra's beleaguered...
There are a number of arguments against the controversial Site C dam, planned for the Peace River Valley: it floods First Nations land against their consent; it will destroy prized agricultural land; it requires expropriating land from B.C. families and farmers; it will increase the cost of electricity for power B.C. doesn’t even need.
A variety of experts have also come forward to say the project wasn’t properly reviewed and that the B.C. government failed to explore alternatives to the $9 billion project — the most expensive public infrastructure project in the province’s history.
But what are the arguments for the Site C dam? And do they have any merit?
DeSmog Canada’s Emma Gilchrist met with Harry Swain, the man appointed by the B.C. government to chair the joint review panel for Site C, to discuss some of the most commonly used arguments to justify the project.
The federal government’s approval of the $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed for Flora Bank near Prince Rupert, B.C. violates First Nations rights and was based on flawed information, according to three separate legal challenges filed Thursday at the Federal Court of Canada in Vancouver.
Representatives from the Gitwilgyoots and Gitanyow First Nations as well as SkeenaWild Conservation Trust filed court actions requesting judicial reviews of the project’s approval which granted majority Malaysian-owned Petronas permission to build an industrial export facility atop sensitive eelgrass beds at the mouth of the Skeena River in a region scientists have identified as a ‘salmon superhighway.’
“It’s important to bring this forward in a court of law so that a spotlight can be shone on not only the deficiencies in the law, but deficiencies in the way the law was applied here,” Chris Tollefson, legal counsel for SkeenaWild, told DeSmog Canada.
It has been two weeks since the Nathan E. Stewart, a U.S.-based fuel barge tug, struck ground and sank near Bella Bella, B.C., contaminating the harvest waters of the Heiltsuk First Nation with an estimated 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
During that time coastal residents have watched with dismay as spill response efforts have been hampered repeatedly by unfavourable weather, failed spill containment and even one incident where a spill response ship took on water and itself began to sink.
But the ongoing failure to contain and clean up the spill has been witnessed most closely by members of the Heiltsuk First Nation, who have been on the frontlines of the spill response effort since day one.
Scientists have discovered rare and notable species in the Site C dam flood zone that were missed in BC Hydro’s environmental assessment of the $8.8 billion project, including spider and true bug species new to Canada and bumblebee and snail species vulnerable to extinction.
The findings underscore the rich biodiversity of the Peace River Valley, a northern low-elevation valley that remains “poorly known biologically in British Columbia,” said David Langor, president of the Biological Survey of Canada, a non-profit organization that coordinates scientific research.
“If we were to have a more intensive sampling I’m quite sure that we would come up with quite a pile of other things that are interesting, unique and outside of normal ranges, and perhaps even species that are new to science,” Langor, an Edmonton-based biologist, told DeSmog Canada.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has repeatedly argued that putting a price on carbon would be bad for the economy — but experts say Wall’s own climate change strategy will end up costing the province more per tonne than the federal government’s plan, while failing to be nearly as fair or effective as a carbon tax.
Much of Saskatchewan’s climate strategy centres around the SaskPower Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, which cost $1.5 billion to build (funded mostly by SaskPower ratepayers and a $240 million investment from the federal government).
“When we think about how we can reduce emissions most cost-effectively, [Boundary Dam] probably stands out as an example of how not to do it,” says Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada.
Talk about the government fox guarding the hen house. BC Hydro has applied to the provincial government for a new licence that will allow it to demolish Peace Valley protected old-growth forest, migratory bird habitat and a rare wetland for the Site C dam.
Next up on the Site C chopping block is 1,225 hectares of Crown land — an area larger than three Stanley Parks — that includes a spectacular and rare hillside wetland called a tufa seep. The seep likely took thousands of years to form, making it older than the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Great Wall of China.
Even if the government required BC Hydro to place a no-logging zone around the seep to protect its unique biodiversity values, it will be ultimately destroyed by the Site C reservoir. The seep is one of at least seven of the ancient wetlands that lie within the Site C project area, a concentration that botanist and lichenologist Curtis Bjork said is “unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
Since the Liberals formed government last November, Enbridge and Northern Gateway Pipeline have lobbied Ottawa an astounding 86 times, federal lobbying reports reveal.
Fifty-one of those meetings have taken place since August — which, funnily enough, is around the same time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started backtracking on his commitment to ban oil tankers on B.C.’s north coast, a policy that would leave Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal dead in the water.
Since October last year, representatives from Enbridge and Northern Gateway Pipeline met with representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office eight times, Transport Canada 10 times, Fisheries and Oceans Canada 10 times, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada 12 times, Natural Resources Canada 31 times, and mostly Liberal Members of Parliament 39 times to name just a few.
For years, the Canadian public has been besieged with the same message: Alberta’s pipeline network is completely maxed out, meaning the oilsands are landlocked and new pipelines must be constructed to allow producers to ship their product to new markets and eliminate the discount imposed on exports.
It’s a notion that’s been repeated by politicians of all stripes, including Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But there’s no merit to that argument, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Oil Change International.