Last week Premier Christy Clark announced the largest contract BC has ever issued for the Site C Dam, valued at over $1.5 billion. It’s for construction on the project the BC government describes as being “low-impact hydro.”
But the project is also facing seven distinct legal challenges, from landowners, First Nations, and environmentalists.
It’s that last group who are speaking up today, as world leaders gather in Paris to talk about how to best tackle climate change.
Speaking on the Weekend Afternoon Show with Shane Foxman, the Sierra Club’s Ana Simoen says it’s disingenuous to sell the Site C Dam as a “green” project.
“It actually is going to contribute to climate change through the emissions created by the dam itself, by the reservoir itself, and also because its purpose, according to our premier, is to facilitate the expansion of fracking and LNG, whose emissions are very high and who are as bad as burning coal.”
READ MORE: Province green-lights Site C construction
— Sierra Club BC (@Sierra_BC) July 16, 2015
Simoen says the dam has another connection to climate change that most people overlook. She says with rising temperatures, food production in places BC traditionally buys from – like drought-stricken California – is falling. She says flooding the Peace River Valley will destroy valuable farmland that BC will need to feed itself in the future.
“Land like this that can feed one million people is a strategic asset of the highest importance for the well being of the people in British Columbia as we go through climate change.”
READ MORE: Site C protestors rally outside BC Hydro
But is this just a case of being anti development?
Simoen brushes off that criticism, arguing that the dam is neither a smart, nor cost effective project. She believes the project, which is forecast to cost about $9 billion, will likely end up costing somewhere in the $13-14 billion range when complete.
“There will be a couple of thousands of jobs during the construction. But BC Hydro’s own projection is, after the construction is complete, we will have about 165 permanent jobs in Hudson Hope and area. So I think that’s a pretty pathetic return to British Columbians for their tax dollars.”
Simoen says she thinks BC could be both budget and climate smart by instead looking at what some US jursidictions are doing, and retrofitting existing dams to increase their production.