The Site C Dam and Genuine Conservatism
Conservative (kuh n-sur-vuh-tiv)
- resistant to rapid change
- avoiding excess
- cautiously moderate
On July 21st the Peace Valley Environmental Association together the West Moberly First Nations hosted a Paddle for the Peace. This event attracted hundreds of people who are opposed to the construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John. And, as the Green Party candidate in the Prince George – Peace River riding and as one who lives in the Peace River valley, I too attended this important event. In addition to the significant agricultural, environmental, and social reasons for opposing the site C dam, I have recently been struck by the democratic and economic reasons for voicing opposition. And, I believe, these reasons begin to reveal the genuine conservatism within Green politics and the depth of the Greens’ concern for sustainability in both our democracy and our economy.
Because we Greens are committed to politics that are built upon the principles of grassroots democracy and decentralized federalism, we oppose large, centralized government. Further, because we also understand politics and economics to be deeply interconnected, we argue that both government and industry should be small-scale, decentralized, and locally connected. Just as large-scale government produces economic waste as tax dollars are misspent and overspent, large-scale industry brings with it a kind of democratic “waste” as the opinions and decisions of residents and local governments are ignored and overridden.
When our governments and our industry expand to the point where they are not accountable to those who are most affected, they have grown beyond a manageable scale and are causing unacceptably harmful side-effects. Indeed, the proposed Site C dam is an example of this negative and impractical industrial expansion. We who live in the Peace River valley cannot get a straight answer regarding the government’s plans for Site C and, instead, are left at the mercy of the bureaucracy. We are told to wait and see what happens to our land and our neighbours’ land.
Therefore, Greens are calling for a genuine conservatism that will encourage both government and industry to develop and grow on a small, localized scale—a scale that is most efficient, productive, and accountable to the local residents. This generally means that, where possible, local production is for local consumption in an economic cycle that is democratically manageable. Ideally, a small-scale and locally connected government should be encouraging small-scale alternative energy production like wind and solar power (or even small-scale hydro projects).
However, a genuine conservatism also means that waste-reduction and efficiency should come before changes to increase production. We really do not need to waste the energy that we currently do—waste and inefficiency actually lower rather than raise our standard of living. When production is small-scale and local, though, we have the opportunity and the inspiration to make it as productive and efficient as possible with the minimum number of negative side-effects.
Simply put, we Greens are the genuine conservatives insofar as we understand progress to be possible only through the co-advancement of our economy and our democracy—that is, economic development and grassroots democracy need to become mutually supportive. It is only small-scale government along with small-scale industry that will allow our local economies to flourish and our democratic involvement to thrive.
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You don't really think they would allow anyone to mess with their profits from oil, do you?
We have been supplying them for years.
what is BC if we kill all of nature?
you know people are part of the enviroment too and when we distroy it we will all die too
Site C is not needed and will cost us dearly.
this is what PVEA think
1. We are looking forward to relief from the phoney baloney Consultation process. This has been frustrating as it was staged and they didn’t really listen, as evidenced by our request to do studies on Grizzly Bears that has been ignored. (we are complaining to the Ombudsman about this phoney “staged” consultation).
2. We are looking forward to having a legal status and right to be heard in the Upcoming Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) Review or National Energy Board process. The Site C proposal is a very large project so we are looking forward to a full panel review and public hearings like the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline which it is a similar large project. An announcement about Site C moving to BCHydro’s stage three is only an announcement to move into the assessment processes. While we, like most British Columbians don’t have much respect for the provincial environmental assessment process, a full panel review during the Federal process will be welcome.
3. While it is true that there are already dams on the Peace River, they are on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and anchored in solid material. The proposed Site C is 80 kilometres out on the prairies in lacustrine (lake sediment) material highly susceptible to sloughing and sliding. The actual footprint of the proposed reservoir could be 2 to 3 times the reservoir area do to the massive amount of erosion in these unstable soils.
4. While the government has maintained that BCHydro has been a net importer of electricity the past few years this is subject to scepticism as while they have purchased cheap coal fired electricity at night from Alberta they have held over water in the reservoirs that could have generated electricity. The 1980’s proposal for Site C said that there would be brown outs in BC’s lower mainland with in 10 years, we were able to show that this simply wasn’t true and in the last 30 years without Site C or any other significant generation being built there have been no shortages. We look forward to once again examining the true about electricity use.
5. Site C is not about meeting the electricity demands of British Columbian’s it is about exporting electricity. Former energy minister, now Senator, Richard Neufeld recently addressed Fort St. John City Council telling them to get on the Site C train. He also pointed out that the provincial government’s throne speech commits to connecting Fort Nelson and the Horn River Natural Gas Development to the provincial grid. Neufeld stated that Horn River would use up to 500 megawatts of the potential 900 Site C is designed for.
6. January 2010 Oil and Gas Enquirer has an article about Horn River gas fuelling the Oil Sands projects near Fort McMurray Alberta. So connect the dots. Build Site C, build grid connection to Fort Nelson, develop natural gas in the Horn River Basin, Use that gas to produce Dirty Oil, the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project would ship that oil to Kitimat BC where it would be loaded on Tankers to be shipped offshore to China or wherever. Site C is not Green or Even Clean but would be used to increase our carbon footprint.
7. The proposed Site C project would actually produce greenhouse gases. By BCHydro’s own account as documented in our report BC’s Peace River Valley and Climate Change (found at www.itsourvalley.ca ) Site C would emit green house gases (74000 tons CO2 per year, equivalent of 18,500 cars) and continue to emit over the life of the reservoir. The reservoir would also result in the loss of the existing forest to absorb CO2 leaving an total CO2/year equivalent of 147000 tons equal to adding 36,000 vehicles a year in the lower mainland.
8. Why are we are so passionate about Site C. It is simply was wrong to flood some of the most productive land available for future generations to export power. The Peace River region is known as a special climate area in Canada, the most northern agricultural area. There is enough agricultural capability in the Peace River Valley to provide vegetables to all of northern Canada. In my family history we left southern Saskatchewan in the Dirty Thirties, moving to northern Saskatchewan where we could actually grow enough food to eat. The Peace River Valley can support our food needs and as climate change causes warmer temperatures and water shortages in places like California our ability to grow food here will be priceless. We cannot destroy this ability. Similarly, ecologically the Peace River Valley has a priceless role to play in ecologic resiliency to climate change. This is detailed in our report.
9. We are confident that in a full panel review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act or National Energy Board we will be able to show that the Site C proposal is not in the long term public interest of Canadians and British Columbians.
10. When asked if Site C was the only option to meet BC’s electricity needs only 55% of British Columbians said that they would support it under those circumstances. The government and the consultation process we afraid ask directly if people supported Site C, and no one dares ask the question would you support flooding our valley just to export power.