Site C Would Destroy Agricultural Land Needlessly, Conservation is the Only Green Solution

The proposed location for the Site C Dam.
Photo by Don Hoffmann

A joint federal-provincial environmental review panel will conduct hearings beginning today in Fort St. John. This is the third time BC Hydro has tried to get regulatory approval for this project and given the development worldview so cherished by many, it won't be the last unless they win. As it was in the 80's, B.C. Hydro faces widespread community opposition over dam but the odds have changed.

Documents filed with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency suggest 30 landowners will be affected, but locals point out that BC Hydro has been purchasing land quietly for 30 years — a policy that has slowly depopulated the area and eroded opposition. BC Hydro says the $7.9-billion dam would produce enough electricity to power 450,000 homes per year for 100 years. The critics call bullshit: "The steep banks of the Peace River are highly unstable so landslides and a great deal of sloughing would occur, reducing the volume of water held by the reservoir. The huge silting problem would reduce the capacity to produce power, making it even more difficult to generate the money to service the billions of dollars of debt."

Which leads us to this article at The Globe and Mail explaining why  'BC Hydro’s Site C dam faces fiscal, regulatory minefield'. Apparently even the bankers are unconvinced they'll get their 'pound of flesh' in the long run.

As usual the Mud Report stands with those who stand in it, the moose, elk, deer and all beaver. In the last few frozen days alone mule deer, coyote, elk, white-tailed deer, moose and black bears have been spotted on Esther and Poul Pedersen‘s property along the Peace River. So far, the couple has rejected Hydro’s offers to buy their land. Ms. Pedersen cannot bear to think of walking away, saying, "When the Williston reservoir was created, thousands of deer and elk drowned trying to cross the water to now-submerged islands...[Esther considers the animals on her land meeting the same fate]...It’s impossible to think about.”

Demand for electricity will skyrocket in the coming decades. Conservation is the answer, it requires no environmental degradation and could easily create as many new jobs through the manufacture and distribution of new clean technologies. Instead of flooding farmlands, forests, native burial and hunting grounds BC Hydro could distribute low consumption appliances and light fixtures then pay for them through taking back a percentage of the dough users would be saving. New York City did this years ago and they saved so much power that Quebec had to stop their plans to construct their version of Site C. Conservation works wonders and it challenges the culture of 'more is better'.

"So why," Reimar Kroecher asks in his well researched article titled, 'Eight reasons to stop the Peace River Dam', "given all these drawbacks, is Site C even on the agenda? It seems there are powerful groups in North America who would love to see BC Hydro drift into insolvency. These groups applauded Victoria’s policy of forcing BC Hydro to buy power from independent power producers at prices far exceeding the prices this power can be sold for. Should BC Hydro become insolvent, it would be a golden opportunity to privatize it and for powerful vested interest groups to pick up some of the best hydro electric facilities on the continent at bargain basement prices."

"Site C will not provide clean or green energy. If the dam is built, it will flood some of of B.C.’s best farmland, obliterate First Nations cultural sites and disrupt critical wildlife corridors and habitat for aquatic species such as bull trout. Electricity from Site C is not needed to power B.C. households and businesses. B.C. taxpayers will foot the $8 billion bill for this project at a time when B.C. Hydro is already deeply in debt." Stop Site C website.