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Trudeau open to BC-Alberta power line/ tar sands pipeline plan

This section of the Peace River would be flooded by the Site C dam. Photo by Graham Osborn/ Vancouver Sun.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s open to a hydro-transmission line – a power line that could cross many rivers now left unprotected by the Navigation Protection Act – from the Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia to Alberta.

The Financial Post has previously reported, “Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government [has] made an unexpected proposal to export Site C power to Alberta and asked for $1 billion in federal government aid [for transmission lines] to better connect the two provinces’ electricity systems. Alberta … has said it won’t buy B.C.’s power unless it can get bitumen pipelines [the Northern Gateway or Trans Mountain pipelines] to the B.C. coast — something its western neighbour has given it a lot of grief over. But if the two provinces and the federal government can pull off an agreement, the result could be a grand bargain that gives Ottawa more green energy, Alberta its pipelines and B.C. its dam.”

Now the Vancouver Sun reports, “Trudeau, in an interview last week, said the federal government would take a close look at a funding proposal from Western Canada. ‘I think anything we can work together interprovincially or nationally on (to get) emissions down, you know, emphasizing hydroelectricity, creating opportunities to get off coal, to get off natural gas, where possible, this is good for the country, it’s good for our emissions profile, it’s good for the economy we need to build’, he said. ‘So I’m open to discussing proposals when they come forward, but so far we haven’t had any formal proposals.'”

A few points to keep in mind:

  • the Harper government’s C-38 omnibus bill removed power lines and pipelines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, while C-45 severely reduce the scope of the rivers and lakes covered by the Act;

  • First Nations have rejected the Site C dam, have stated that it violates their right to free, prior and informed consent, and have repeatedly asked Trudeau to stop construction on the dam by withholding Fisheries Act permits for the dam;

  • the Site C dam will not produce “clean energy”, it would produce the equivalent of adding 27,000 cars onto the road every year;

  • the $1 billion that BC is asking the federal government for would likely come from the federal infrastructure fund, we have stated that not $1 of that funding should be used on projects that worsen climate change;

  • B.C. exporting so-called “clean electricity” to Alberta cannot “green” the Northern Gateway pipeline (which would produce 27 million tonnes of carbon pollution a year) nor the TransMountain pipeline (which would produce 270 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a 35-year period);

  • the federal-provincial review panel finding that B.C. “has not fully demonstrated the need for [the power that would be generated by] the project on the timetable set forth” seems to be confirmed by this new proposal to now export Site C energy.

The Council of Canadians is ramping up to ensure that all rivers and lakes are relisted in the Navigation Protection Act. For more on that, please click here.

We have also endorsed the Leap Manifesto which calls for respecting the inherent rights and title of Indigenous peoples, no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future, a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.