Carrie James’ story ought to sound familiar: She grew up in a small town on the Alaskan coast, fishing for salmon the way her Haida and Tlingit ancestors had for generations. She taught her children, two boys and a girl, how to catch, smoke and put up the fish. And then, as with so many other salmon-based tribes, plans for upstream development began to threaten her way of life.
But unlike some Pacific Northwest tribes, which have lately negotiated with hydroelectric companies to repair some of the damage caused by dams — or tribes in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which at least have the Environmental Protection Agency on their side in the fight over Pebble Mine — James has felt powerless in her effort to stop a handful of mines from being dug in the headwaters of rivers that feed her tribe and economy. That’s because the headwaters aren’t in Alaska. They’re in Canada.
Over the last decade, the Canadian government has expedited a mining boom in western British Columbia by rolling back one environmental regulation after another. The Navigable Waters Protection Act, for example, once protected more than a million Canadian rivers and 32,000 lakes. As of 2012, that number was down to just 66, leaving some of British Columbia’s wildest, richest and largest rivers exempt from environmental safeguards.
Some Canadian tribes support the mines, but to James — who’s co-chair of United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group and treasurer of Ketchikan Indian Community — they have the potential to pollute the water that she and millions of salmon depend on. Last summer, after a tailings pond in eastern B.C. collapsed and spewed some 25 million cubic meters of toxic sludge into the Fraser River, she ramped up her advocacy work. But it’s been to no avail: Last week, an open-pit gold-and-copper mine called Red Chris quietly began operating in the headwaters of the Stikine River — an undammed waterway of a magnitude and wildness that no longer exists in the Lower 48. The Stikine squeezes through a daunting whitewater canyon before opening into 160 miles of canoeing paradise: wide gravel bars, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs and habitat for moose, wolf, grizzly and salmon.
(To read complete source article, click "High Country News")
THE PROVINCIAL government is giving the Tahltan Central Council $500,000 to buy into a small run-of-river project on the Iskut River owned by Calgary-based energy company AltaGas.
The Volcano Creek project, rated at 16 megawatts, has just begun producing power which is being sold to BC Hydro, entering the provincial grid through the crown corporation's Northwest Transmission Line.
Provincial and Tahltan officials were in Terrace this morning releasing details of the business deal through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund which will see the Tahltan earn a share of the revenues being paid by BC Hydro for the power through a 60-year purchase agreement with AltaGas.
AltaGas says the second of what will be three run-of-river hydro-electric projects north of here is producing power.
The Volcano Creek project along the Iskut River, rated at 16 megawatts, had its powerhouse and high voltage switchyard completed this month and is now delivering power to the provincial grid through BC Hydro's Northwest Transmission Line.
THE OFFICIAL completion of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line was recognized today with a plaque unveiled at the crown corporation’s Skeena Substation, Kilometre 0 of the line which stretches 344 kilometres north of Terrace to a newly-built substation at Bob Quinn.
The $746 million 287 kilovolt line was energized last month with the goal of providing stable and affordable power to mining and other developments and to transmit power into the provincial grid from power projects in the region.
Calgary-based AtlaGas is the first customer for the line by feeding power into it from its Forrest Kerr run-of-river project along the Iskut River, the first and largest of three such projects owned by the company.
“We are pleased to announce that we have safely commissioned and energized the largest construction project in our history,” said AltaGas chair and CEO David Cornhill in a recent release.
The first customer to take power from the line is to be Imperial Metals of Vancouver for its Red Chris copper mine which is now being commissioned.
A British Columbia First Nation whose territory includes some of the province's most majestic and resource rich lands signed revenue-sharing agreements Tuesday with the provincial government while declaring its fierce determination to oppose developments considered threats to their homelands.
Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee called signing two clean energy hydro-electric projects in northwest B.C. historic, and said it signals that the Tahltan people are willing to embrace development — but only on their terms.
(To read complete source article, click "The Province")
Private run-of-river hydro facilities are falling short of meeting both the specific monitoring requirements for their projects as well as general industry guidelines, a consultant's report commissioned by the federal fisheries department concludes.
(To read complete source article, click "The Vancouver Sun")
British Columbia's government is hitching its economic hopes for the province to a boom in resource development. Much of that is slated for the northwest. Resource journalist Christopher Pollon traveled to the region to learn how an anticipated boom of power lines, new mines and hydro projects will affect northern communities – for better and worse.
(To read complete source articles, click "The Tyee")