The Common Sense Canadian is offering leadership contenders and party leaders and spokespeople in BC an opportunity to spell out their energy and environmental policies for our readers. Today, we present the first of these – from the BC First Party.
BC First recently released its new “people friendly” environment policy that includes a moratorium on the development of the Site C dam. We believe that a proper review, laying out all the options, has never been undertaken to determine whether the damage from flooding such a massive area is worthwhile when compared to the alternatives.
To be clear, BC First rejects the extreme environmental perspective which sees all human development as bad. We also reject the “development at any costs” mentality which says no matter what long term ecological damage, no matter how much displacement of valuable farm land, and no matter what the alternatives, we plough ahead as usual because powerful, self interested parties control the agenda.
We believe that abundant energy is the key to economic development and prosperity for BC. Nations with surplus energy have the means to promote creativity, opportunity, and productivity. But the Williston Reservoir demonstrates the environmental damage from erosion that can happen even after we thought we’d covered all our bases.
Fortunately, British Columbia is blessed with an abundance of alternative energy sources, in particular natural gas, tidal and wind power. The Aeolis Wind Corporation, the company behind the proposed Thunder Mountain wind project, estimates there is as much wind power in northeastern British Columbia as in BC Hydro’s entire generating capacity – equivalent to ten Site C’s!
At a projected 50 trillion cubic feet, there is enough natural gas in the Montney shale gas field alone to power tens of millions of homes, dwarfing the Site C dam’s 900 MW capacity of 410,000 homes. “Blue Fuel” – a by-product created by capturing excess CO2 from natural gas fired plants, creates a clean burning fuel with a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. It is estimated that adding turbines to the west side of the generating station of the WAC Bennett Dam could effectively double that dam’s power output. Natural gas, wind, geothermal, tidal generators, and even bio-fuel from beetle killed timber all provide massive opportunities for a comprehensive new model for BC’s energy.
The days of destroying productive valleys, submerging farm land, and wiping out wildlife habitat and our ecology are quickly passing. There are far better alternatives to diversify our power resources so we are not hostage to a single generating model, and which will create jobs that are ongoing, provide the power we need, and lessen our footprint considerably. It’s time to transition from a 20th century energy model to a 21st century one.
BC First believes a holistic plan is required that takes into consideration other core human objectives such as quality of life, tourism, recreation, farming and the very attainable goal of food self sufficiency for BC. The capacity for agriculture in the unique micro-climate of the Peace River Valley is second only to the Fraser valley in terms of agricultural productivity, and has the potential to become BC’s “breadbasket”.
BC has the most designated park land in all of Canada, but much of it is remote and inaccessible. We have developed a comprehensive strategy for environment that includes a BC First “Community Parks Plan” to replace the “Carbon Tax” that will actually reduce CO2 by creating green belts in and around urban centers. These parks would also form a network of “wildlife highways” connecting to existing larger parks to develop an integrated system that respects the natural migration and ecology of BC wildlife and protects BC’s indigenous plant ecosystems.
BC First is proposing a “BC Heritage Fund” that will earmark a portion of conventional resource revenues to invest in “new” energy technology and jobs to make BC the world leader in sustainable, alternative energy. We would also provide incentives for individuals and small businesses for the creation and use of localized “green energy” technologies such as solar, wind, biodiesel and geothermal to help reduce pollution, lower energy costs, and increase individual choice in energy.
In BC, we can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to energy and environment. We just need the vision, desire, and courage to do it. Then and only then will the best model for BC emerge that is both practical and necessary, and which enjoys widespread support from all British Columbians.
For more information go to: www.bcfirst.com