Concerns about cumulative impacts of the Site C dam project raised by environmental organizations and First Nations have been ignored in the joint environmental assessments approved by the provincial and federal governments today, said Jay Ritchlin, the foundation's director general for Western Canada. "Most importantly, the foundation supports the goals of Treaty 8 First Nations to protect their traditional territory, which will be severely affected by the dam's development," Ritchlin said.
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"We're concerned that the Peace Region is bearing the brunt of our growing appetite in B.C. for oil and gas," he said. The foundation's research shows industrial activity is fracturing Northeastern B.C. on a scale unparalleled in Canada with over 60 per cent of the Peace Region disturbed by human land use.
"The joint environmental assessments should have considered the Site C dam in the context of this enormous cumulative industrial footprint, but they didn't. We remain concerned that the development will add stress to an already overstressed environment," Ritchlin said.
"While additional sources of renewable energy are essential, this project is not the solution for B.C.'s — or Canada's — energy needs," he said. "The project should have been evaluated alongside policies that prioritize clean energy as part of a national energy strategy to reduce Canada's emissions."
Today's approvals — which include more than 150 binding conditions for BC Hydro — claim that Site C is in the public interest and that the benefits provided by the project outweigh the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and heritage effects.
An earlier joint review panel evaluation, which included cumulative impacts, concluded that the dam "would likely cause a significant adverse effect on fishing opportunities and practices for the First Nations . . . and these effects cannot be mitigated."
The provincial cabinet must still approve the project.
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