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Run of river project to undergo federal assessment

Maude Barlow has said, “The run-of-river projects should more aptly be called ruin-of-river. Granting hundreds of multi-decade contracts and 40 year water licenses to private corporations to divert rivers and run roughshod over BC’s pristine wilderness simply cannot be called green.”

A Marketwire media release issued by Plutonic Power states, “Plutonic Power’s proposed Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project is comprised of 17 non storage run-of-river sites on three river systems…”

(Bute Inlet is located approximately 150 kilometers north of Powell River on the southwest coast of British Columbia.)

Their media release highlights that, “Plutonic Power Corporation has received notice that Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice has directed that an environmental assessment of the Bute Inlet Hydroelectric Project shall occur under a federal panel review process.”

While an environmental assessment could sound encouraging, the Globe and Mail reported on March 14 that “A leaked government document outlining the proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act indicates Environment Minister Jim Prentice has asked for a bill ‘overhauling’ the legislation as soon as possible.”

“The changes would come on the heels of a similar change included in the budget legislation that passed this week, which reduced the ability to trigger environmental assessments through the Navigable Waters Protection Act.”

Environment Minister Jim Prentice “said the proposed changes are in response to the provinces, who recently told Prime Minister Stephen Harper that overlapping environmental rules will delay public stimulus spending from creating jobs.”

Lastly, the Globe and Mail reported on May 14 that, “Stock of Plutonic Power Corp. jumped 20.7 per cent yesterday after the Liberal party was re-elected in British Columbia on Tuesday night. Plutonic is developing run-of-river power projects north of Vancouver, and the provincial New Democratic Party had proposed a moratorium on new private power developments.”.

The Council of Canadians will be tracking this situation. Plutonic “expects to make its initial application for an environmental assessment certificate early in 2010.”