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Sierra Club BC statement in solidarity with Stand.earth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 17, 2017

Sierra Club BC stands with Stand.earth, condemns outrageous bully tactics by Enbridge

 

VICTORIA—Sierra Club BC is horrified and disgusted by the outrageous bullying tactics employed by Enbridge today, and condemns the company in the strongest possible terms.

“Enbridge today proved itself to be a bully determined to intimidate and silence its opponents,” said Tim Pearson, Sierra Club BC communications director. “Sierra Club BC stands with Stand.earth.

“Here in B.C., Enbridge has shown itself to be tone deaf to local concerns and contemptuous of legitimate opposition to its goals.

“Employing such extreme tactics in Canada reveals just how desperate big oil and the fossil fuel industry are getting, as the economy’s transition away from fossil fuels accelerates with each passing day.”

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Contact:
Tim Pearson
Director of Communications
Sierra Club BC
C: (250) 896-1556

Sierra Club BC argues Site C project should be terminated

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 31, 2017

VICTORIA—Sierra Club BC, represented by lawyers from Ecojustice, has called for the termination of the Site C dam project in its submission to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).

The group argues that the enormous cost of Site C locks B.C. into major financial obligations that hinder its ability to invest in lower impact, lower cost, jobs-intensive renewable energy development that serves communities across the province much better in the long term.

“By continuing to lock B.C. into this outrageously expensive dam that we don’t need, BC Hydro is leaving taxpayers and ratepayers on the hook for huge cost overruns,” said Sierra Club BC’s Peace Valley Campaigner Galen Armstrong. “The material we’ve reviewed shows British Columbians are likely to face alarming increases to hydro rates.”

Sierra Club BC argues that available evidence, viewed in light of the BCUC’s Terms of Reference and B.C.’s Clean Energy Act, leads to a conclusion that Site C should be terminated. The group’s submission suggests:

  • Site C is likely to result in significant excess supply and BC Hydro would be forced to sell this electricity at a loss;
  • Cost estimates have already increased markedly for the project, and major capital costs lock BC Hydro into significant financial obligations;
  • Continuation of Site C will hinder BC Hydro’s ability to invest in alternative, lower-impact renewable energy that could provide community development opportunities across the province; and
  • If this project proceeds, it will put B.C. at odds with its own clean energy objectives as set out in the Clean Energy Act—and should be a major consideration for the BCUC during its review.

“We’ve known for years that Site C is not in the public interest and represents bad long term planning. It will inflict unnecessary pain on household budgets when the alternatives could provide similar or even greater benefits at a far cheaper cost,” said Armstrong.

Sierra Club BC also raised concerns that Site C energy would not reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions and in fact may be used to support greenhouse gas-intensive industries such as mining, oil and LNG.

“This dam represents 1950s thinking when we should be investing in innovative twenty-first century technologies like wind, solar and geothermal energy. These industries create better long-term jobs at a third of the cost of Site C, with the benefits felt in communities across the province. Continued investment in Site C will leave B.C. poorer because we won’t be investing in clean energy innovation for communities.”

“While we’re happy the B.C. government has initiated this review, we worry that the shortened process will still not provide the fulsome review that’s necessary,” said Karen Campbell, Ecojustice lawyer. “If the government truly wants to get it right and act in the best interest of British Columbians, it needs to allow the BCUC to extend the process in order to test evidence and permit parties to ask questions of BC Hydro.

“This review gives the Commission the chance to protect the public from this unnecessary project by fully evaluating how Site C will impact B.C.’s long term energy future. We hope the Commission takes advantage of this escape hatch,” said Campbell.

“Regardless of the final outcome of the BCUC review, this project should be cancelled because of numerous factors, including the threat to prime farmland and the violation of First Nations’ treaty rights,” said Armstrong. “Just last week, the UN’s top anti-racism body strongly condemned Site C. If the current government is serious about its commitment to UNDRIP, the answer is clear: Site C must be cancelled. Cabinet must take these factors into account when it makes its final decision.”

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Resources: Submission

 

Contact:

Galen Armstrong

Peace Valley Campaigner

galen@sierraclub.bc.ca

Sierra Club BC

Cell: 778-679-3191

 

Karen Campbell

Ecojustice lawyer

Kcampbell@ecojustice.ca

604-685-5618 ext. 287

Cell: 604-928-2258

Sierra Club BC applauds Province’s Kinder Morgan announcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 10, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from communications director Tim Pearson in response to today’s Kinder Morgan announcement by the Province:

“Sierra Club BC welcomes and applauds today’s announcement.

“The provincial government was elected on a promise to use every tool available to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the threat of a seven-fold increase in bitumen tankers on our coast.

“Today’s announcement is a serious and considered first step to fulfilling that promise.

“Engaging external counsel with the stature of Thomas Berger sends a clear signal that the Province will leave no legal stone unturned. There are complicated legal issues involved and no one is better qualified to provide advice to the Province.

“Berger’s legal career—including the 1973 Calder decision, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the mid-1970s and his influence in enshrining Indigenous rights in Canada’s constitution—is central to the evolution of Indigenous title and rights in Canada.

“Sierra Club BC is optimistic that the Province will be successful in gaining intervenor status in the various active court cases, based upon Berger’s advice.

“Sierra Club BC will continue its work through the Pull Together campaign to raise funds for First Nations court cases. So far, more than $1 million has been raised for both the successful Enbridge cases and those against Kinder Morgan.

“The combination of well-funded First Nations and an intervening provincial government will be a potent one in the courts.

“Today’s announcement also puts Kinder Morgan on notice that it has failed to meet the requirements for consultation with First Nations set out in the conditions of its environmental certificate, issued by the previous government.

“Kinder Morgan cannot commence construction in September without breaking the law, unless all conditions are met.

“We have a new government in part because voters on the pipeline route said no to Kinder Morgan and no to any government that would approve the pipeline.

“A clear majority of British Columbians voted for parties opposed to the pipeline and a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic.

“Sierra Club BC is encouraged that today’s announcement outlined first steps for the provincial government. We look forward to the Province expanding on those steps and signalling its continued commitment to stopping the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project.”

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Contact:

Tim Pearson

Communications Director

Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Now’s our chance for smarter environmental and energy reviews

Right now, we’ve got a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise our voices for stronger environmental protections. The federal government is reviewing key laws and processes including the environmental assessment process and the National Energy Board.

These changes will impact Canada’s environmental and energy decisions for years to come. Please add your voice. Together we can let our MPs know we care about making these changes!

Let’s make sure Canada fixes the National Energy Board

The NEB review of Kinder Morgan was hopelessly biased towards corporate interests and denied many people the chance to speak. Sierra Club BC’s Credibility Crisis report outlined its many flaws, revealing an industry-captured regulator determined to approve the project.

Right now, the NEB review process makes it almost impossible for community voices to be heard. The NEB has far too much power when it comes to reviewing projects like pipelines. It should respect the rights and authority of Indigenous peoples and work for people, not industry.

You can help make sure upcoming changes to the National Energy Board go far enough to restore public trust in the NEB.

Tell your MP: “Keep Canada’s climate promise and fix the NEB” 

Let’s make sure environmental reviews of pipelines, dams and mines are strong and fair

We also have an opportunity to provide input into the federal environmental assessment review to improve protection of Canada’s natural environment.

It’s time for governments to get serious about climate action by incorporating a scientifically rigorous climate test in environmental assessments. A climate test would analyze greenhouse gas emissions related to a project (both upstream and downstream) and assess whether a proposed new energy project fits within national action towards decarbonization, or if instead it will prevent us from hitting climate targets. It asks “does it make climate change worse?” If the answer is yes, the project doesn’t get built.

Environmental assessments should also advance reconciliation and co-governance with Indigenous peoples, respecting Indigenous rights by engaging communities early in the process.

Tell your MP: “I want a next-generation environmental assessment law for Canada” 

Want to do more?

The federal government has also mandated reviews of other environmental laws. Learn how you can advocate for strengthening Canada’s Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

This public comment period closes August 28. To learn more about this process, visit the government’s feedback website.

Want to help take Sierra Club BC’s climate action work to the next level? Sign up to volunteer or become a member today.

Petro-Corporations vs. the people of the Skeena

Old Hazelton. Photo by Mark Worthing.

By Mark Worthing, Conservation and Climate Campaigner

This July, I traveled north to visit communities within the mighty Skeena watershed. This was a chance to learn about the petroleum industry’s attempted incursions into Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan and Tsimshian territories, and the communities that are defending their homes, lands and waters.

The resiliency, power and commitment of this Indigenous-led land defence work leaves me speechless.  And amongst the settler communities who have made homes in the vast drainages of the Skeena and its tributaries, there is an intensely rich understanding of their own relationships with the land.

The stories, solidarity and community-based visioning happening in these places is some of the strongest and most colourful this side of the Rockies.

Yet attempts by international corporations to push extractive industries remain at an all-time high. With recent shifts in government and successes under our belt—like cancellation of the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project, and Petronas’ fracked gas plant—people in the northwest are reviewing their tactics while remaining steadfast in long term land-based sovereignty work.

Hagwilget Canyon. Photo by Mark Worthing.

From my perspective, the general feeling is this: people are tentatively hopeful.

But the work never seems to end, and we must not let our guard down simply because there is a different flavor of political power at the helm.  The proof will be in the pudding. The collective work of cultivating healthy cultures of resistance to industrial extractivism is a lifestyle and not simply a campaign.  And there are many more existing and proposed pipelines that cross those territories without consent.

With multinational fracking and LNG corporations attempting to force projects down the throats of communities and seeking anyone who is willing to sign deals, we will need to stay true to our work in uplifting and affirming the traditional Indigenous governance structures that are inextricably linked to the land.

I admit I had never quite grasped the implications of the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in court cases until I spent time in the Yintah (Territory) of the Unist’ot’en and Luutkudziiwus, different house groups with specific lands within the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Nations respectively. They are each occupying their territories full time according to their own laws. The court cases laid the groundwork for obtaining Title to lands in the eyes of Canadian law, which would return governance and authority to First Nations. This would make stopping unwanted pipelines a whole lot easier.

I also spent time with community members in Dodge Cove on Digby Island, a short boat ride from Prince Rupert. Within an hour of arriving, I heard about Petronas cancelling its controversial fracked gas plant on Lelu Island. The whole town was buzzing with excitement.  That night we raised a glass of champagne to its defeat and to the success of the land defence work of the Lax Kw’alaams and those who helped defend the salmon habitat of Flora Bank.

Unist’ot’en mural. Photo by Mark Worthing.

But for the community of Dodge Cove, the fight isn’t over. They have another battle on their hands: the massive fracked gas plant being proposed by Nexen, owned by Chinese oil giant CNOOC.

The company’s complete disregard for this community was horrific to hear about. The plant would be built less than a kilometre from this historic town, violating international siting standards and putting human safety at risk. They continue to buzz helicopters above people’s homes and conduct test-drilling without consultation or consideration. Don’t believe what you hear from this company. If you see what they are proposing on the ground, your stomach will turn.

Members of the community were grateful for the help Sierra Club BC’s supporters provided by sending letters to the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The EAO received so many submissions—the vast majority of which were opposed to the project—that the review was paused for nearly three months.

But now it’s up and running again, and you can be sure the company is moving full steam ahead.

LNG is not dead in BC, not by a long shot.

 

Stay up to date on the fight for a sustainable energy future in BC by signing up for our monthly newsletter and action alerts.

Feature image: Suskwa River by Mark Worthing.

Farewell, and not goodbye: Bob Peart

By Executive Director Bob Peart

March 31, 2017

When I was hired by Sierra Club BC 3.5 years ago, I was excited to work with a key environmental group at such a critical time. Sierra Club BC was rightly seen as a leader in the movement – from our respectful approach to advocacy and our belief in science to our award winning environmental education programs and the vital role we play in the energy, forest and climate conversation. I was not disappointed. And we have delivered – from the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements and protecting big old trees to speaking out to keep tankers off the coast; and from putting the outrageous Site C dam proposal on the public radar to getting thousands of school-aged children back outside.

As many of you know, by the time you read this note I will no longer be Executive Director. My route to Sierra Club BC was through a 40-year role as an advocate for nature, combined with a deep passion for experiencing firsthand the smells and sounds of the wildlife and plants that surround us. Post-Sierra Club BC, my journey will continue.  I will remain involved in the conservation movement as long as I am able – putting my energy toward defending nature, moving off a carbon-based economy and reminding people that their health is directly linked to a healthy environment.

I am often asked: where do I get my optimism and why, given the degradation to the planet we see every day, do you keep working so hard to protect it? My answer is that I get my hope and optimism from people like you – our donors and supporters who believe in the good work we do. And like me, you refuse to give up and you continue to demand that the communities where we live are healthy, and provide a lifestyle that is truly sustainable and leaves no one behind.

I thank you for your confidence in Sierra Club BC, and please continue to support the good work we do through your donations.


Bob Peart

Report links steep increases in domestic hydro bills to province’s reckless handouts to LNG companies and Kinder Morgan

March 27, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VICTORIA—British Columbians will face alarming increases in hydro rates for decades to come because of the B.C. government’s reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, says a new report from Sierra Club BC.

The report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money, shows how BC government subsidies to the LNG industry, offered in an attempt to lure companies to BC despite adverse market conditions, come at great expense to BC taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers. Power subsidies to even just two or three of the proposed LNG plants could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, on top of royalty and tax cuts, the cost of building the Site C dam, and energy subsidies to other industrial users like Kinder Morgan.

“Why is our government expecting British Columbians to pay a handout to international corporations each time we pay our hydro bill?” said Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “In their desperation to secure a deal, they are making terrible deals with serious consequences for all BC residents.”

The report points out that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of at least $540 million over twenty years.

“When the BC government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers they implied the $25-50 million per year from the company would somehow make up for long-term job losses and economic impacts of oil spills,” said Vernon. “What they failed to mention is that BC is giving $27 million per year to Kinder Morgan, in the form of subsidized energy.”

The handouts don’t stop there: the report questions the need for the multi-billion dollar Site C earth-fill dam project, which is intended to supply below-cost energy to fracking and LNG export facilities that may never get built, and will contribute to escalating hydro rates over the dam’s 70-year payback period.

“The BC government is building an expensive dam we don’t need in order to offer subsidies to fracking and LNG companies, with BC hydro ratepayers footing the bill for generations to come,” said Vernon.

Sierra Club BC’s report notes that alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

“Our government is single-mindedly pursuing LNG export against all odds and at any cost, but we can choose a different future for this province and our Hydro bills. We have better, cheaper and cleaner energy options, like solar and wind. It’s not too late to stop the Site C dam,” said Vernon.

“British Columbians need to make their voices heard on these issues in the upcoming election, because they are the ones who will be paying the price for these bad decisions.”

Report: Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money

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Media contact:
Caitlyn Vernon
Campaigns Director
Sierra Club BC
250-896-3500
caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca

Hydro Bill Madness

Did you know that as a BC Hydro ratepayer you are subsidizing projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal and Petronas’ liquefied fracked gas plant at Lelu Island?

Wait, what? Why?

The BC government is offering handouts to the LNG industry in an attempt to lure companies to BC in adverse market conditions, and it’s us the taxpayers and hydro ratepayers who will be footing the bill. Watch this video to find out how your BC Hydro bill pays for handouts to international corporations.

This is a bad deal for BC. Not only would Kinder Morgan and Petronas destroy our climate and salmon habitat, not only would the $9-17 billion Site C dam flood some of the best agricultural land in BC and trample on First Nations treaty rights, but it’s you and me who are going to have to pay for it, for generations to come.

British Columbians need to know just how bad a deal we are being sold. Let’s get the word out.

Share this:

Facebooktwittermail Thanks to Corrina Keeling for producing this video!

These alarming increases in our hydro rates are because the BC government made a reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas, against all odd and seemingly at any cost.

We’ve outlined how this is happening in a new report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes for Broke With Your Money.

The report shows the BC government is offering subsidies to LNG and fracking companies in the form of tax cuts, royalty credits, and below-cost power. Taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers could be left with the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

And because fracking and LNG require a lot of power, the BC government decided to build the Site C earth-fill dam, an expensive dam that is not needed for current electricity demands and that will contribute to escalating hydro rates for over 70 years.

It all adds up to a very big bill that British Columbians will have to pay, and it doesn’t end there. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of $27 million per year.

Each time you pay your hydro bill you’re giving a handout to international corporations.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

We can choose a different future for our province and our hydro bills.

What can you do?

  • Share the video
  • Read and share the report
  • Ask your candidates where they stand on these issues and vote in the upcoming election on May 9.
  • Volunteer with Sierra Club BC to help more people learn about the environmental and economic impacts of LNG, fracking, Kinder Morgan and the Site C dam.
  • Donate to Sierra Club BC

B.C. budget offers 1950s thinking in response to 2017’s challenges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 21, 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from communications director Tim Pearson in response to the release of the 2017 B.C. Budget:

“This budget offers 1950s thinking in response to 2017’s challenges.

“It’s a budget blind to the need to transform our economy away from fossil fuels. It’s a budget blind to the potential jobs and prosperity that can be created with a realistic road map to a post-carbon economy. And it’s a budget that shows no meaningful commitment to climate action.

“Where are the investments in the affordable, renewable energy alternatives and innovation that will power our economy and provide jobs now and far into the future? Nowhere.

“Instead, we get support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, increased fracking and the Site C megadam—a boondoggle that will subsidize fossil fuel exploitation and drive ever increasing Hydro bills for decades to come.

“Every million dollars invested in fossil fuels generates two jobs. That same million dollars would deliver 15 jobs via renewable energy projects.

“If we want a thriving economy and good, green, family-supporting jobs, we need a budget that will drive a shift to a sustainable, post-carbon economy.

“We need affordable, climate-friendly energy sources that will create jobs in communities throughout B.C. and drive innovation in clean technology.

“We need a genuine commitment to forest health, not the re-announcement of last year’s reforestation funding and no real plan for how our forests will aid in climate action.

“For years, this government has treated the environment and climate change as an afterthought. This budget is no exception.

“It’s a blindness that will hurt our economy and rob us of jobs, as other jurisdictions leave us behind in innovation, as the market for fossil fuels evaporates and as British Columbians are left to pay down mountains of debt.”

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Contact:
Tim Pearson
Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC
(250) 896-1556
tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Pull Together 2.0: The People vs. Kinder Morgan

Both our federal and provincial governments have given the green light to Texas-based oil company Kinder Morgan to build a tarsands pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic on the BC coast by 700%.

Despite what Premier Clark says, BC is a long way off from having “world-leading” spill response capacity – on water or on land. Accidents happen and there’s no known technology to clean up toxic diluted bitumen.

Our elected representatives are standing up for Big Oil, so it is up to the rest of us to stand up for BC and defend our communities and our climate.

A number of First Nations along the pipeline and tankers route have already filed court challenges.

It was indigenous-led legal challenges that brought an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. First Nations can stop Kinder Morgan in the courts also. Let’s not stand by and watch them go it alone.

That’s why we’re relaunching Pull Together. In partnership with RAVEN Trust and the Force of Nature Alliance, we’re supporting the Tsleil-Waututh and Coldwater Nations who are in court to overturn the federal approval.

There are lots of ways you can help. During our last Pull Together campaign, there were smoothie sales and pub nights, dance performances and poetry readings. Over fifty musicians played at benefit concerts across the province.

Will you host a solidarity event in your community?

It doesn’t matter how big or small – whether you raise $100 or $1,000, your impact will be amplified by the contributions of others.

We can help get you started. Just fill out this form and we will be in touch to provide you with support.

When we pulled together to stop Enbridge, we were overwhelmed by your response. All across the province, people stepped up. People like you danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and ate together to support the First Nations fighting Enbridge in court. Together we raised over $600,000 for the legal costs, thanks to unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies.

Not a penny of the money raised went to Sierra Club BC. This campaign is a risky one for us financially, however we feel so strongly that it’s the right thing to do that we are doing it again! We believe that standing in solidarity with First Nations requires the courage to take risks and step outside our comfort zone.

We hope you will join us. Your ongoing support is what lets us take this kind of risk. And your involvement in Pull Together is how together we will stop Kinder Morgan.

Pull Together is not just about raising money, it is about pulling together in the face of governments bent on forcing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province.

Photo by Michael Beach.

Pull Together is about building strong communities of resistance. Pull Together recognizes that when it comes to moving away from fossil fuel dependence, we are all in this together. With Trump pushing his fossil fuel agenda, it’s all the more important that we organize here in BC to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

By stopping Kinder Morgan, we can build the type of future we want in British Columbia—one that moves toward renewable, clean energy and green jobs. One in which our communities are safe from the threat of oil spills.

Together, we can do this. Ready, set, pull!