Oak Bay-Gordon Head

‘Unprecedented’ Comments from Chair of Site C Dam Panel Raised in B.C. Question Period

Site C dam

Revelations from DeSmog Canada’s exclusive sit-down interview with Harry Swain, the chair of the panel that reviewed the $8.8 billion Site C dam, were raised during question period in the B.C. legislature on Thursday.

Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party, asked the government about the economics of the Site C dam project in light of Swain’s unprecedented interview.

Swain, a former Deputy Minister of Industry Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, is thought to be the first review panel member in Canadian history to speak out about a project in this manner. His comments to DeSmog Canada prompted follow-up by the Globe and Mail, CBC, CKNW and CFAX.

Mr. Swain was very clear that the government was rushed in approving Site C, and British Columbians will pay for their haste,” Weaver said during question period. “As Mr. Swain said: ‘Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they’ — that’s BC Hydro — ‘were making had any basis in fact.’ That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for the fiscal underpinning of Site C.”

Geothermal Offers Cheaper, Cleaner Alternative to Site C Dam: New Report

Alison Thompson

Geothermal energy offers a low-cost, clean and viable alternative to the $8 billion Site C dam proposed for the Peace River, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA)

The report, Geothermal Energy: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site C, estimates that geothermal power would ring in at about $73 per megawatt-hour (MWh). BC Hydro has estimated the cost of Site C at $83 per MWh. The report also says the proposed geothermal plants could be built for approximately $3.3 billion, less than half the cost of the Site C dam.

Geothermal can be built as you need it, where you need it, and the capital costs are much lower,” CanGEA Chair Alison Thompson told a press conference in Victoria.

Energy Executive Quits Trans Mountain Pipeline Review, Calls NEB Process A ‘Public Deception'

Marc Eliesen

An energy executive is weighing in on the federal review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion with a scathing letter that calls the National Energy Board’s review process “fraudulent” and a “public deception” — and calls for the province of British Columbia to undertake its own environmental assessment.

Marc Eliesen — who has 40 years of executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor — writes in his letter to the National Energy Board that the process is jury-rigged with a “pre-determined outcome.”

Eliesen is the former CEO of BC Hydro, former chair of Manitoba Hydro and has served as a deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments.

In his letter, Eliesen tells the National Energy Board (NEB) that he offered his expertise as an intervenor in good faith that his time would be well spent in evaluation Trans Mountain’s proposal.

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the board, through its decisions, is engaged in a public deception,” Eliesen writes. “Continued involvement with this process is a waste of time and effort, and represents a disservice to the public interest because it endorses a fraudulent process.”

Jumbo Glacier, Site of Proposed Ski Resort, Likely to Be Mostly Melted by 2100: Climate Scientists

Commander Glacier

The rough track at the foot of West Farnham Glacier, carved by a Glacier Resorts bulldozer in 2008, comes to an abrupt end as the already rough terrain becomes impassable.

Huge boulders block the path, where there is an early-fall dusting of snow and, ahead, the cliffs are festooned with precariously hanging icicles.

We call it the road to nowhere,” said professional mountain climbing guide Arnor Larson, who, since 1970, has taken visitors into the remote Farnham area of the Purcell Range — 60 kilometres from Invermere along a lumpy, slippery one-track road.

Stretching above the track is the money card — blindingly bright snow, broken by icy blue patches, where the prospect of all-season glacier skiing has fuelled a 24-year debate.

Glacier Resorts Ltd. plans to build a billion-dollar ski resort, with hotels, lodges, condominiums and shops, in the adjacent Jumbo Valley. Lifts and gondolas would take visitors from the village to ski on Farnham, Jumbo and Commander Glaciers.

But the most pressing question is how long the glaciers will be around.

While the Jumbo Glacier Resort Master Plan predicts the glaciers will survive or even grow as climate change will mean additional snow at high altitudes, climate scientists say glaciers in the Purcell Mountains will have disappeared by the turn of the century.

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