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).

Time For a Fix: B.C. Looks at Overhaul of Reviews for Mines, Dams and Pipelines

Tailings facility at Imperial Metals' Red Chris mine

As pipeline politics dominate headlines, British Columbia is poised to overhaul the process that guides how major resource and development projects proceed.

The review now underway of the environmental assessment process has the potential to restore public confidence in the system that evaluates large developments — from open-pit coal mines to pipelines to hydro dams — by considering the combined effects of multiple projects in a single region and instituting other sweeping changes that critics say are long overdue.

We had this ridiculous situation in northern B.C. where we had 18 LNG projects, five different pipelines and an oil export project all proposed at the same time here,” said Greg Knox, executive director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.

Kinder Morgan’s Canadian Executives Earn Millions As Governments Discuss Bailout

Ian Anderson Kinder Morgan Elizabeth McSheffrey

Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., must be laughing all the way to check on his stock options since the Trudeau government offered to use public funds to bail out the company’s stalled Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

Anderson earned almost $2.9 million last year in salary, stock awards and other compensation, according to company documents — and that was only from June through December.

Kinder Morgan Canada’s vice-president, David Safari, collected $1.95 million in stock awards and other compensation during the same seven-month period.

But that’s latte money compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual dividend earnings of Texas billionaire Richard Kinder, who was the CEO of parent company Kinder Morgan Inc. until 2015.

‘Slow-Motion Disaster’: As Canada’s New Hydro Dams Spiral Out of Control, Who’s Overseeing Site C?

Site C construction February 2018

Peace River Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon were at a lookout on a neighbour’s property on Sunday when they spotted a fresh landslide at the Site C dam construction site.

Arlene snapped some photos of the latest geotechnical issue to dog the troubled project and posted one on Facebook, with the caption: “just more of the north hill sliding down to the bottom.”

Given that the slide is on the same hill where recent attempts to stabilize the riverbank are encroaching on infrastructure for the $470 million Site C dam workers’ camp, including its water line and parking lot, the couple was not surprised to see the latest slump.

But they are astounded that the NDP government is keeping the public in the dark when it comes to details about geotechnical problems, rising contract costs and other major issues plaguing the largest publicly funded infrastructure project in B.C.’s history.

How a First Nation Bargained to Build B.C.’s Largest Solar Farm

Solar installation

The language and culture of the Upper Nicola Band honour the natural laws of the tmixw — “that which gives us life.” One tmixw is the sun, which shines for more than 2,000 hours annually in much of the band’s traditional territory in B.C.’s arid Okanagan region.

Plans are afoot to harness the sun’s power to build B.C.’s largest solar farm on the band’s Quilchena reserve, a project that would create enough energy for 5,000 homes and deliver up to $4 million in annual revenues to the First Nation community.

The farm would be 15 times the size of Kimberly’s SunMine solar installation on the site of a former hard-rock mine, currently the largest solar project in the province.

We wanted to showcase something positive for the environment,” Chief Harvey McLeod told DeSmog Canada.

Indigenous Rights Canada’s Biggest Human Rights Challenge: Secretary General of Amnesty

Zack Embree 25th annual Women's Memorial March

Both Canada and British Columbia have vowed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). And yet recent natural resource decisions — like the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline or ongoing construction of the Site C dam — have some wondering what governments mean when they make that promise.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, says natural resource development can create conflict with Indigenous populations and often make Indigenous women and children, the most vulnerable members of our population, more vulnerable.

Conflict of Interest? Troubling Questions Raised About New BC Hydro Board Appointees

BC Hydro Board Conflict of Interest Site C

BC Hydro is the utility that keeps the lights on in B.C. and generally it does a fine job of restoring wind-toppled power lines and firing up our smart phones and flat screens.  

What isn’t going so well for the Crown corporation are its finances, which Energy Minister Michelle Mungall calls a “mess” and project finance expert Eoin Finn says are in the worst shape of any other public or private utility in North America.

Yet the NDP government has retained most of BC Hydro’s board of directors appointed by the previous BC Liberal administration — board members who were responsible for fiduciary oversight while the mess was gathering momentum — which raises troubling questions about the government’s readiness to fix problems at the deeply indebted utility.

Auditor General Nudges B.C. to Amend Act that Exempted Site C Dam from Independent Review

Site C dam construction

Remember B.C.’s Clean Energy Act, championed by former Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell to position B.C. as a “world leader” in addressing climate change?

The act exempted hydro undertakings like the Site C dam from independent oversight by the watchdog B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), an independent body set up to ensure that projects proposed by the government are in the public interest, and not promoted for partisan political gain.

The act further set the legal stage for building the Site C dam, a pet project of the B.C. Liberals, by closing the door on energy sources such as the Burrard Thermal natural gas-fired plant and the power to which B.C. is entitled under the Columbia River Treaty.

On Thursday, B.C.’s Auditor General Carol Bellringer — the province’s public interest watchdog — issued a report nudging the NDP government to review and amend the Clean Energy Act’s objectives, which the report describes as “too diverse and in many cases contradictory with each other.”

What You Need to Know About BC Hydro’s Financial ‘Mess’ and the Site C Dam

Minister of Energy and Mines Michelle Mungall Premier John Horgan

B.C. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said Thursday that “there’s a mess” at BC Hydro. Mungall made the comment after the B.C. Utilities Commission denied the government’s request for a hydro rate freeze — putting the kibosh on one of the NDP’s campaign promises.

Instead, the commission approved a scheduled three per cent hydro rate hike for April 1, saying that the increase is not sufficient to cover BC Hydro’s costs. What’s going on? And what does it mean for you and your future hydro bill?

‘It’s An Act of Intimidation’: First Nations Call Out BC Hydro on Threat to Recover Costs of Site C Dam Logging Pause

Site C Construction BC Hydro

First Nations are challenging BC Hydro’s claim of a “substantial increased cost” to the $10.7 billion Site C dam because of a voluntary pause to the destruction of areas of great significance to Treaty 8 members.

I find it outrageous that they would make this claim without any evidence whatsoever,” said Tim Thielmann, a lawyer for two Treaty 8 First Nations that have filed notices of civil action alleging that the Site C dam infringes on their treaty rights.

Thielmann also called BC Hydro’s statement that it “reserves the right to seek recovery” of the increased cost from First Nations “completely unacceptable.”  

Site C: The Elephant in B.C.’s Budget

Site C white elephant

Conspicuously absent from the B.C. government’s 19-page budget speech on Tuesday was any mention of the largest publicly funded project in the province’s history.

Nor did the government devote a single word to the $10.7 billion Site C dam during last week’s Speech from the Throne, which presented the NDP’s “affordability” agenda for the coming year.

Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau said the avoidance of Site C appears to be deliberate.

To not talk about it, as it’s moving forward, seems to be more than just an oversight,” Furstenau told DeSmog Canada.