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Author Topic: Rafe Mair: Rebuttal - Save Our Rivers  (Read 2376 times)

Little Hawk

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Rafe Mair: Rebuttal - Save Our Rivers
« on: December 17, 2008, 06:11:01 AM »


I sent Rafe a heads-up on this letter (that was brought to my attention by a WSA member up Island) and he CC'd me this reply to the newspaper.

Good info here on what Campbell's up to with our river's and streams'
and another good reason not to vote Liberal next spring!

Standing for Wild Salmon,
Terry Anderson

Dear Mr Cameron,
Attached and below is a letter in response to an article on December 10 last.
I hope in fairness you will print it.
Rafe Mair
Spokesperson for Save Our Rivers Society

The article by Gene Vickers in your December 10 issue is hard to respond to because Mr. Vickers presents no evidence, while slagging nameless enemies. Let me help Mr. Vickers by announcing that I am one of the salaried speakers – is he saying that those who promote big industry and the Campbell government are volunteers?

What are these vested interests he’s talking about? Since the Save Our Rivers Society ( is the principal opposition to government and their friends who would ravage the environment for profit, readers should know that it’s a small group of individuals, who rely on the generosity of other individuals to make ends meet, with two employees – video producer and Campbell River native Damien Gillis, and me, a 77 year old ex-broadcaster. We are indeed traveling the province exposing the environmental and economic disaster that is the government's energy policy and will continue to do so.

Let me first deal with the environment. People should know that the plants proposed and now built are not little water wheels but large concrete and metal structures that dam and divert the river through pipes and tunnels, sometimes for close to 20 km. They require large gravel roads to permit the huge construction equipment to get in and rights-of-way for transmission lines out.  In most cases this means clear cutting in wilderness. During construction the rivers get heavily silted, killing life therein.  Perhaps Mr. Vickers can assure us that the fish affected will learn how to walk to around these massive water diversions. But even if they did, they would still have to contend with dangerous changes in water temperature, oxygen, food supply, and siltation - all hazardous to their      survival and reproduction.


Once a river is disabled, the ecosystem it supports - the bears, eagles and the surrounding flora go too. So does the carbon sequestration formerly provided by the trees, thus increasing greenhouse gases and climate change. The damage is permanent. These projects are scarcely “green” - especially when you consider the cumulative impacts of developing potentially over 600 of these projects around BC, many of them in your readers' backyards!


Does Mr. Vickers know that virtually none of our neighbours - including California - even consider "run of river" power as green?  Why, then, do Mr. Vickers and Gordon Campbell?


Many of the companies involved are huge multinationals like General Electric which, through its subsidiary Plutonic Power, is building several large projects including a couple of behemoths in the nearby Toba Valley on salmon spawning rivers.  At last count they had licenses or applications to control a whopping 46 rivers in our province - rivers that belong to First Nations and British Columbians, not corporations!  These companies get guaranteed lucrative prices from BC Hydro, which are indexed to the market. There is no competition between the companies as they all have monopolies.


What this means is that profits from power producing which now flow from BC Hydro to the public treasury for hospitals and schools, will go as dividends to shareholders of huge out of province companies like Warren Buffett’s General Electric, Ledcor, and Axor out of Montreal.


What this policy means is that we are abandoning public power – and we have the best and cheapest in North America – so that profits from our environment can go to out-of-province corporations instead of back to us.


Contrary to what Mr. Vickers suggests, the environmental assessment process is a farce - it can't stop a project and can only suggest changes. Moreover, even this pathetic process is lessened if the project is under 50 MWh of capacity. Moreover the government can waive an assessment, and the director, far from being a public servant, is appointed by Mr. Campbell.  Readers should also know that when the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, after many public hearings, rejected a project on the Ashlu River, Premier Campbell passed Bill 30 taking away the right of any local authority to say no to any private river power project. (As a matter of interest, Ledcor got its approval on the Ashlu based upon it being under 50 MWh and, after the project was finished raise it substantially without going through any further environmental hoops!)


Are we in danger of running out of power, as Mr. Vickers suggests?


Not by BC Hydro’s own reckoning, according to their 2007 Energy Conservation Potential Review. With simple conservation, upgrading and expansion of existing facilities, and taking the power benefits to which we’re entitled under the Columbia River Treaty, we have no foreseeable problems. The onus is on him who alleges – why isn’t Mr. Vickers demanding that Premier Campbell prove the power shortage he alleges we're facing? Moreover, these private projects will only produce power in the spring runoff period when we don’t need it, rendering the whole program moot for increasing our energy self-sufficiency!


SFU economists Dr. Marvin Shaffer and Dr. John Calvert have demonstrated all this very clearly in their respective works Lost in Transmission and Liquid Gold.  Mr. Vickers cites another SFU professor, Dr. Mark Jaccard, to "discredit" Calvert and Shaffer.  Dr. Jaccard's share of a Nobel prize - one of several thousand scientists around the world to contribute to the International Panel on Climate Change - has little bearing on this discussion. No one here is disputing climate change.  The issue is rather how to best deal with the challenges of the future - through conservation of nature and prudent development and maintenance of public energy assets, or by handing away our water and energy security to private corporations...Mr. Vickers also conveniently omits the fact that Jaccard is in the pay of the provincial government, while Drs Shaffer and Calvert are independent experts with allegiances to none.


I want to assure you that we have our facts straight and if we didn’t, Mr. Vickers and the government could meet them point by point which, obviously, they cannot do. All the facts I have raised and will continue to raise are documented and demonstrable. I will be happy to meet Mr. Vickers in debate on a public platform.  Readers will perhaps be sorry that your paper and Mr. Vickers can only throw back baseless abuse at those of us who are bringing the truth to the public. I simply ask readers to go to and find out for themselves. 


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Re: Rafe Mair: Rebuttal - Save Our Rivers
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 12:22:52 PM »

Take a look at    The projects are not identified, only the general region, but most of these companies have their own web sites from which you can glean information on what they are up to.  They are a lot cagier than they used to be and you have to read closely to discern the truth.