We’ve just had the latest round of international “news” about British Columbia as a global environmental outlaw.
On top of our oil tankers (almost all from Alaska), our “fracking” (conducted without significant incident for 50 years), and our alleged abandonment of “climate leadership” in lawless, planet-roasting Canada, B.C. has been summoned to the great green prisoner’s dock for the heinous offence of constructing a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.
This time the international protest network has called for a United Nations investigation of the Site C dam, claiming it will cause irreparable harm to the Athabasca River basin and Wood Buffalo National Park.
Things are so bad from the first two dams on the Peace that a third one might cause Wood Buffalo to be struck from UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites! That’s like 50 UN “fossil awards” and a Neil Young concert all at once!
There’s just one problem. It’s bunk.
These things follow a formula. Press conference in Ottawa as UN delegation tours, looking for things to protest in safe countries – check. Emotional aboriginal leader with unsupported allegations of environmental ruin – check.
Campaign orchestrated by U.S. enviros, in this case the “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative” – check. Story timed for that hard-to-fill Monday news hole, delivered to every radio and TV station by the copy-hungry Canadian Press wire service and hyped by a veteran protester-reporter at The Globe and Mail? Check.
Now it’s quite true that the three-year federal assessment of the Site C project pointed to significant impacts, such as the loss of farmland and hunting and trapping areas in the Peace River valley in northeastern B.C.
But after an exhaustive examination of the hydraulic effects of Site C, it was determined there would be no measurable impact on the Peace-Athabasca Delta, more than 1,000 km away in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
Of course all Canadian environmental reviews are skewed and flawed in some unspecified way, according to the professional environmentalists who stack hearings until they have to be constrained from doing so.
I’ve covered our Left Coast environment movement for decades, starting out as a long-haired Suzuki-worshipping reporter and slowly coming to appreciate what a cynical industry it has become. But I’ve never seen anything quite like the anti-Site C campaign.
It’s bad enough watching NDP leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver twist themselves into knots to maintain opposition to a renewable energy project. Their core urban supporters are hard-wired to oppose any industrial development, and today’s instant information culture manufactures ‘facts’ to fit the current narrative.
It takes real political flexibility to tout adoption of electric cars, then try to block the only option other than nuclear reactors that would support the expansion.
Wading through my daily shipment of shocked and appalled environmental-group press releases, I almost slipped off my chair when Amnesty International started sending out anti-Site C diatribes.
Good to know the plight of political prisoners from Cuba to Iran has been relieved to the point where Amnesty is able to stand with the dozens of other donation-seeking organizations against this dam.
The environmental case for Site C is related to the economic case. It will generate more power with a smaller reservoir than any other dam in Canada, being the third stop for the vast quantity of water stored in Williston Lake.
Do you want to know the real reason why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government issued permits for Site C? They did it because it makes sense.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @tomfletcherbc