Sarah Cox

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Sarah Cox is the Legislative Reporter for DeSmog Canada. She is an author, journalist and communications strategist based in Victoria, B.C.

Sarah was born in Montreal and grew up in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario. She moved to B.C. as a teenager to attend the University of British Columbia, where she worked on the student newspaper The Ubyssey and went on to become a staff reporter for the Vancouver Sun.

Sarah earned a MA in political science from York University, where she focused on economic development policy. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Latin American and Caribbean studies, and was the recipient of Canadian Foundation for the Americas media fellowship which took her to Argentina.

Sarah later worked as a consultant and freelance magazine writer. Her articles appeared in publications such as the Georgia Straight, the Tyee, Report on Business Magazine, BC Business Magazine, Focus Magazine, Monday Magazine, and the Toronto Star. Sarah’s feature writing has earned her a Vancouver Press Club Award, a BC Journalism Award and two Western Magazine Awards.

Between 2006 and 2015 Sarah worked as strategy and communications director for Sierra Club BC and as the senior conservation program manager for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, a science-based organization that seeks to connect and protect habitat so that people and nature can thrive.

Sarah is the author of the forthcoming book Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBC Press, Spring 2018).

Drink, Toast, Spin: The Latest on the Wine and Pipelines Debacle

Lana Popham

It all started with the Asti Trattoria Italiana restaurant in Fort McMurray, whose slogan is “Live, Love, Eat.”

But there was no love lost for restaurant owner Karen Collins two weeks ago when the B.C. government announced it will set up an independent scientific advisory panel to examine how diluted bitumen can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

Pending the review, B.C. said it would restrict increases in the transport of the substance — a mixture of thick unrefined oil from the oilsands and highly flammable gas condensate — through the province, a move widely seen as an attempt to stall the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

B.C. Makes Big Promises on Environment, Indigenous Rights in Throne Speech

BC Speech from the Throne 2018 Chad Hipolito

The B.C. government tried to steer clear of controversy over liquefied natural gas exports, the Site C dam and fish farms in the Speech from the Throne Tuesday. The speech laid out the NDP’s “affordability” agenda and unveiled plans to revitalize the environment assessment process and address fugitive emissions in the oil and gas sector.

As B.C. develops its abundant natural resources, we must do so in a way that meets our obligations to the environment, First Nations and the public interest,” read the speech, presented by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to mark the start of a new legislative session.

This year, government is taking important steps to restore public trust in B.C.’s environmental stewardship.”

Did BC Hydro Execs Mislead Public About Cost of Site C Dam?

Site C construction BC Hydro

BC Hydro executives have mismanaged the Site C dam’s overall budget and cost control process, and they are “not capable” of accurate estimates or controlling costs on the $10.7 billion project, according to an affidavit filed this week by former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen.

The necessary experience and due diligence rigour required for managing a major hydro project such as Site C is deficient among the executive at BC Hydro,” says Eliesen in the affidavit, noting that it has been more than 30 years since BC Hydro constructed a major generating station.

The knowledge and expertise required, which formerly resided in the company, has retired or moved on.”

The 30-page affidavit, filed in B.C. Supreme Court as part of a new legal case against Site C by two Treaty 8 First Nations, reads like a Site C dam financial WhoDunnit.

Site C Dam Decision Causes Friction Within NDP Ranks Ahead of Provincial Council Meeting

Site C Annoucement Horgan Mungall Heyman

When B.C. cabinet members arrive at the NDP’s provincial council meeting tomorrow in New Westminster, they will face a group of “very concerned” delegates and party members who are urging the government to reconsider its decision to proceed with the Site C dam.

We’re not going to let this rest,” said Jef Keighley, vice-president of the Surrey South NDP constituency association. “The NDP campaigned on the whole concept of transparency so let’s be transparent.”

Keighley is one of 400 people — the majority of them NDP members and supporters — who attended a Site C Summit in Victoria last weekend aimed at making the government accountable for its decision to continue with Site C and outlining an action plan to stop the $10.7 billion project on the Peace River.

Site C Dam Eyed to Power Yukon’s Mining Boom

Pit at the abandoned Faro Mine, Yukon

A new proposal to send power from B.C.’s Site C dam to remote Yukon mines is baffling on both environmental and financial grounds, according to Yukon mining analyst Lewis Rifkind.

Rifkind, a civil engineer who works for the Yukon Conservation Society in Whitehorse, said beyond environmental concerns associated with the mines, the “lunatic” cost of building more than a thousand kilometres of transmission lines for short-term projects makes the prospect nonsensical.

‘Deck Stacked’ Against First Nations Seeking Site C Injunction, Experts Say

Chief Roland Willson

Can the Site C dam still be stopped?

It all boils down to one B.C. Supreme Court judge who will decide whether or not to grant First Nations an injunction against the project this spring, according to legal scholars who are keenly watching a new legal case against the $10.7 billion dam.

This week West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation filed notices of civil action claiming that the Site C dam — along with two existing dams on the Peace River — infringes on rights guaranteed to them in Treaty 8, which promised they could continue their traditional way of life.

The nations requested the court declare approvals for Site C issued by the B.C. and federal governments “unconstitutional,” and asked for an injunction to halt work on a project that will destroy traditional hunting, trapping and fishing grounds, as well as areas rich in berries, herbs and medicines.

NDP Government’s Site C Math a Flunk, Say Project Financing Experts

Site C dam John Horgan Bad Math

The NDP government’s arithmetic on Site C cancellation costs is “deeply flawed,” has “no logic at all,” and is “appalling,” according to three project financing experts.  

Eoin Finn, a retired partner of KPMG, one of the world’s largest auditing firms, said Premier John Horgan’s claim that terminating Site C would result in an almost immediate 12 per cent hydro rate hike is the “worst rationale I’ve heard since ‘the dog ate my homework’” excuse.  

I expected better when the new government came in,” said Finn. “They’ve just continued what [former premier] Christy Clark did to hide the true costs of Site C and hope that they get re-elected before the next generation finds out.”

This is the stupidest capital decision ever made by a B.C. premier. I don’t know who is giving them accounting advice.”

UPDATED: Site C Dam Approval Violates Basic Human Rights, Says Amnesty International

Arlene Boon Site C Dam Violates Human Rights

Ending months of speculation, Premier John Horgan announced Monday that construction of the Site C dam on B.C.’s Peace River will continue even though the cost of the troubled project has climbed to $10.7 billion and the government faces a potentially pricey legal challenge from First Nations.

This is a very divisive issue,” Horgan said at a press conference. “I don’t have a magic solution but I have the best solution that we can come up with in the time I have as premier to make sure that we’re doing the least amount of damage…and making the best of a bad situation.”

As Site C Decision Looms, Peace Valley Locals Agonize Over Potential Loss of Homes, Livelihoods

Ken Boon, Peace Valley Farmer

Days away from a final decision on Site C, Peace Valley landowners have launched a “Home for the Holidays” campaign featuring photographs of families who would lose their homes to the $9 billion dam and appealing to the NDP government to terminate the project.

Ken and Arlene Boon, who appear in one of the Christmas card-like photos standing on the steps of their third generation farmhouse overlooking the Peace River, said 70 valley residents are waiting “on pins and needles” to find out if the project will be cancelled, a decision Premier John Horgan said he will announce before the end of December.

It’s tough,” Ken Boon told DeSmog Canada. “I know there are a lot of people right now who are expecting the worst but we are definitely not throwing in the towel considering what we’ve all been through.”

Site C Decision Will be Made Any Day Now — What the Hell is Going On?

John Horgan NDP Site C

An independent review of the Site C hydro dam was pegged as the solution to a long and bitter battle over the fate of the $9 billion project championed by B.C.’s former Liberal government.

The bombshell review gave the new NDP government plenty of new ammunition to terminate Site C, which would flood the traditional homeland of Treaty 8 First Nations in the Peace River Valley and destroy dozens of designated heritage and archeological sites, including indigenous burial grounds.

But at the eleventh hour, with a final Site C decision expected as early as next week, the government seems poised to green light the project in the face of pressure from unlikely bedfellows that include construction trade unions, NDP party insiders, Liberal MLAs and BC Hydro.