Archive for 2 April 2013

Site C Short-sighted

2 April 2013

Site C, too many eggs in one basket
In short, Site C is both damaging and a case of too many eggs in one basket.

The following is my letter of comment to the CEAA/BCEAO on the Site C Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Not as strong as I would have liked, but given time constraints, better than not commenting.

For background and links to make comment see the Peace Valley Environment Association.


RE: Comments on Adequacy of Site C Clean Energy Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Please accept my comments regarding the adequacy of BC Hydro’s Environmental Impact Statement for the Site C Clean Energy Project (the EIS).

Site C would result in loss of some of the best farm land in Northern BC. Figures I have seen with regard to the project indicate loss of 6,469 hectares (15,985.25 acres) of agricultural land, 2,601 ha (6427.21) of which are Class 1 and 2 lands, as well as risks to additional agricultural land surrounding the project. Knowing as we do that growing regions are moving northward with climate change, we would be foolish to surrender Class 1 and 2 lands. The EIS fails to account for future value of this land as agricultural land under future conditions given the likely loss of traditional growing regions further south to drought and other extremes under future climate conditions.

It is ironic that the Site C dam would also contribute to climate change through emissions of methane and CO2 due to decomposition of organic matter at the bottom of the reservoir. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has found that dam methane emissions are responsible for some 4% of the total warming impact of human activities.

There would be social and economic costs associated with the boom-and-bust nature of this kind of mega-project development. The EIS takes into account impacts of these kinds that are likely to result from the project, but it does not ask the question of whether this kind of development should be pursued at all. Research on similar projects in the past, such as those looked at by the UBC Centre for Human Settlements study “What We Know About The Socio-economic Impacts of Canadian Megaprojects: An Annotated Bibliography of Post-project Studies” (1993) has found that impacts on local communities significantly out-weigh benefits. It was found that hydroelectric projects “appear to be the most disruptive”.

In contrast, alternative energy in the form of solar, wind, geothermal and others has been found to have wide-ranging benefits in terms of economics, energy security and employment. See for example Rather than concentrating jobs on a mega-project, BC should look to stimulate local activity and employment throughout the province by building a diverse energy system. This would eliminate the mega-project boom-and-bust impacts while maximizing the benefits associated with meeting the energy needs of British Columbians. The EIS fails to consider alternative development directions.

Dams such as Site C made sense in the early to mid Twentieth Century. They do not make sense today.