Site C Dam
Credit: DeSmog Canada

A weekly roundup of news and views on energy, mining, forestry, and more

Former New Democratic premier Mike Harcourt urged the NDP to cancel the $9-billion Site C hydroelectric project if the party defeats the Liberal government in next spring’s election. Speaking at a conference organized by Clean Energy BC on Monday in Vancouver, Mr. Harcourt said the dam project on the Peace River is damaging environmentally and economically and fails to respect First Nations rights. “I personally think that Site C is … a disaster,” Mr. Harcourt said. “You can take a bad idea and just say no and cut your losses–and that’s what I’d do with Site C." Liberal Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, who spoke at the conference just before Mr. Harcourt, defended the Site C project as one that makes sense for British Columbia because it will provide power at the best price for ratepayers. (The Globe and Mail)

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau is promising a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic off British Columbia's North Coast by the end of this year, which would coincide with the government's cabinet decision on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. "That is a promise that we made. It's a mandate item for me and we are going to be delivering on that," Garneau told host Chris Hall in an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House on Saturday morning. Environmental groups have suggested a moratorium off B.C.'s North Coast would kill the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. The project is still recovering from a blow delivered by the Federal Court of Appeal, which overturned Enbridge's approval because it found Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline. (CBC)

Following the sinking of a diesel-laden tug near Bella Bella, a coastal First Nations community is looking closer at renewable energy. Hesquiaht First Nation, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, relies on a diesel generator to provide electricity for about 70 residents. A barge with three tanker trucks carrying full loads of diesel fuel, totaling 45,000 litres, docks at Hesquiaht every eight weeks to replenish the village tank farm. Cecil Sabbas, Hesquiaht First Nation fisheries manager, said his community is considering clean, alternative energy sources to reduce reliance on the diesel-powered generator. “We have all been watching that Bella Bella thing,” said Sabbas in a recent telephone interview. “It causes us great concern because we have that barge coming to our place every eight weeks or so.”

Near Bella Bella, cleanup continues on the Oct. 13 spill, when a tugboat hauling a barge sank with more than 200,000 litres of diesel and other oil products on board. Nearby shellfish harvesting has been closed. The Heiltsuk First Nation near the spill site has called the incident an “environmental disaster.” (The Times Colonist)