Skip to content

VIEW: Patagonia power project ‘an irreparable mistake’, says the NY Times

The New York Times editorial board writes, “An environmental review commission in the Aysén region of southern Chile has made a potentially disastrous decision, voting to approve the construction of five hydroelectric dams, two on the Baker River and three on the Pascua. The damage these dams would do to the environment is tremendous, and their construction — in a largely unspoiled natural haven — would open the way for further development, including more dams. …To deliver the power they would generate — some 2.75 gigawatts — Chile would have to build a 1,400-mile corridor of power lines to the north, creating the longest clear-cut on the planet. …A separate environmental review must be completed and approved for the transmission corridor. We hope it takes a more comprehensive look at the damage this project would cause. Perhaps then the Chilean government, which supports the dam project, will come to understand what many Chileans already know: that sacrificing Patagonia for power would be an irreparable mistake.”

The Santiago Times reports, “Public rejection (is expected) to grow even stronger once the location of the project’s 2,300 kilometre transmission line is made public in July.” The Guardian reports, “Environmentalists predict more damage (from) transmission lines, which face a separate environmental review in December.”

Notably, Transelec – the Chilean company that would most likely build the transmission line, which requires an 80-metre wide logged corridor through 14 national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas – is controlled by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (with a 27 percent share in Transelec), and the British Columbia Investment Management Corp (which has a 26 percent share in the company).

The Council of Canadians is demanding that these Canadian pension funds reject the deeply unpopular HidroAysén project. Toward that end, we are commissioning a report on the dam, transmission line and energy-hungry Canadian-owned mining companies in Chile, and are planning a fact-finding mission to Chile, likely in November.

For campaign blogs against HidroAysén, please go to