Are you concerned about the Muskrat Falls Project?

It is time to be heard!

I am collecting your statements of concern about the proposed Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project.  Too many people in Newfoundland and Labrador cannot speak out because of their professional situation or relations; therefore many of the rest of us feel alone in their concerns.

Government is getting a “get on with it” message from those with no worries about retaliation for their opinions.  So we need to be all the louder! Let’s tell the government and the people of our province that we are many and we cannot support development at Muskrat Falls.

Share Your Concerns:  I encourage you to share your concerns in just a few lines in the comments here, and write a letter to your MHA and your Premier!

Please include: your name, community, occupation and your statement of concern in the comments below. (If you cannot leave all of this information, please share why.)

See more blog posts.

Environmental Assessment: opportunities and barriers

Scott Midgley asked me to share this with our readers and on our Facebook Group…

_______________________________________________________________

Were you involved in the Environmental Assessment process for the Lower Churchill Project?

Did you attend public hearings as part of the Joint Panel Review or participate in any other community consultation activities prior to the hearings?

Did you want to become involved, but were unable to for whatever reason?

If ‘yes’ to any of the above, student Scott Midgley wants to hear from you!

Over the next few months, Scott is working on a short research project and hopes to speak to anyone involved in the Environmental Assessment for the Lower Churchill hydro generation project. He is interested in your opinion of the Environmental Assessment process, the opportunities and barriers to participation in the process, and whether the views of different groups have been included, properly represented and taken into consideration. Further information can be found at http://muskratfallsresearch.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/call-for-participants/. Please feel free to contact Scott if you would like to participate, at scott.midgley@mun.ca.

______________________________________________________

 

Where ever we stand now, what ever will come down the road, there is always something to be learned!

Scott Midgley is a Master’s student at the University of Manchester studying planning, but previously studied a MA in geography at MUN examining the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of mining in the Arctic. As part of his current course, he very interested in what’s going on regarding Muskrat Falls.  He would like to examine whether the environmental assessment process proceeded as a method/tool that empowered or disempowered particular people’s voices, using key informant interviews.

I know that there are many people out there would would have something to say on this matter.  And I would be interested to know if Scott will have the opportunity to share this research with a larger audience.   However most exciting is that the question is being asked … and I support anyone interested in looking deeper.

Please take a moment to review his site!

Sincerely
Denise

 

 

Thoughts from Earth Day

I had an interesting opportunity this past weekend to set up a tableRethink MF Earthday at the St. John’s Earth Day Fair hosted at the Fluvarium.  I hung up my RETHINK MUSKRAT FALLS sign, and laid on the table the NL government flyers that came out this past fall, a recent press release from the NDP and one of my blog entries.

I wasn’t able to stand at the booth all day, so taped a sheet to the table top that asked the question “What do you think.”

It was anonymous.

I thought I would share some of the thoughts:

“Small run of the river projects could create job where people are and be much better for the planet!”

“There are better ways! Government should rethink the profit margin!”

“This project is great in theory, but it has tied up money and intention and has side lined alternatives.”

“There are better solutions! Wave, tidal, small hydro …”

“Where is the environmental scan to identify a range of energy solutions?”

“what about respect for Aboriginal rights?  Especially Nunatukavut’s?”

AND MY FAVOURITE …. “This is old technology that was withered and passed us by.  Sad to say we are beset with an albatross of monumental catastrophic consequence.” Not to mince words, right?

The conversations at the table included one woman who shared with me that in all the fuss about the College of the North Atlantic cuts, something that might not get headline news, is that funding was cut for the Wave Energy Research Centre on Lord’s Cove! (Looking for confirmation on this if you know of anything.)

On the RETHINK Facebook page I am soon after informed that the EPA is reporting that only about 40% of rivers and 45% of lakes (#6) in the US are unfit for fishing or swimming in.  WHAT!? Folks, we are not much different from them, and surely we are on a similar path.

Yet there is always someone else who is reluctant and unsure about the project, and states “but we need the power.”

Great, we need the power, so we push ahead with a program that includes devastating the local communities, disrespecting the aboriginal rights in the area, disregarding the fact that there is no way to tell what the environmental implications will be.  We hide our heads in the sand by cutting the funds for research into other ways of getting this energy we need and assuming that the last of river ways that can support life in North America is not our concern.

I have not been blogging and posting and sharing as much as I would like to be since Christmas.  With many personal issues, other volunteer work, a busy time of year at my day job and very little personal time left for family and friends it has been hard to stay on top of it.

Fortunately for the government and Nalcor, they have people on staff whose full time job is to keep the people of Newfoundland and Labrador thinking that this project is exactly what we need.  That isn’t the same for everyone.  People can be shut up with all sorts of lines: We need the energy, we are wasting money by consulting and dealing with objections, this is a sure thing, we have federal support, the alternatives are not appropriate for our climate, the alternatives are still in research stages, we need the energy now.

Oh right, the government and Nalcor also has the money to quiet people.  This looks like short term jobs for locals, jobs for people who are coming home from away and the spin off hush of the people who may not agree with the project, yet their best friend, their aunt or their cousin has work because of the project … and how can you speak out loudly with that looking you in the face.  Of course this also looks like throwing protesters in jail for completely unprecedented reasons.

What I find interesting is that despite the fact that the government and Nalcor have individuals who are taking cause of this business on pay role.  Still the prevailing sentiment is that people of Newfoundland and Labrador continue to be unsure or unsupportive of this project.  It is getting harder to assume it is stoppable, so the next best thing becomes compensation.

I would hope that our current government sees the reality here.  There is a difference between support and exhaustion.  Premier Dunderdale, do not mistake the fact that I have to go to work in the morning and help my Girl Guides sell cookies in the evening as a support for your project.

Now, I must get ready to go to work.

Convorsations with the Premier (‘s office)? And Mandy :)

With my continued concerns, and since Premier Dunderdale was claiming that no one had approached HER with concerns about the project.  I thought I best address her directly.  So I did … in November.

Good old Mandy at Nalcor responded in February!  I guess that is the “appropriate attention” ….

______________________________________

Nov 23, 2012

Dear Premier,

I have recently learned that there are 12,000 fathoms of communal fishing gear set in Lake Melville every year.

In this day and age we know that a return to such practices in sustainable ways would only benefit our Environment, so I would assume we would continue to be supportive of having healthy fish to eat.

There is still higher then normal mercury levels in the region from Churchill Falls.

When will there be an environmental assessment with respect to Muskrat Falls to ensure the safety of these people who are living in part off the land?

Sincerely
Denise Hennebury
Mount Pearl

______________________________________

Nov 23, 2012

Dear Denise:

Thank you for your email to Premier Dunderdale.  Please be assured that your correspondence will be given appropriate attention.

Sincerely,

Chantalle Hull
Office of the Premier

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Hummm … so MANDY (see my last post) got back to me.  You remember Mandy right??  Earlier she was responding from  LowerChurchill@nalcorenergy.com

This day she is responding from: info@powerinourhands.ca

 

Feb 21, 2013

Dear Ms. Hennebury,

Thank you for your inquiry.
As part of the Lower Churchill Project Hydroelectric Generation Project (Project) Joint Review Panel (JRP) environmental assessment process Nalcor completed modeling for the expected mercury concentration elevation and transport in the Churchill River system. The modeling predicts major flushing at the mouth of the river resulting in baseline levels in Lake Melville (see Nalcor’s response to JRP Information Request, Volume 8, IR JRP.166). Nalcor will implement an extensive monitoring program throughout the Churchill River system below Muskrat Falls to confirm methyl mercury concentrations from the tailrace into Lake Melville. This program will include water, fish and wildlife sampling in the river valley and the results will be made available to the public. Consumption advisories will be issued in consultation with Health Canada based on the results, including for Lake Melville in the case that methyl mercury levels increase. For further information, please reference applicable Nalcor Responses to Information Requests related to methyl mercury and the information compiled in the environmental impact statement at the following link:
In addition to the monitoring program to occur in the river valley, Nalcor will conduct a human health risk assessment throughout the Upper Lake Melville region. This assessment will include determining pre-Project baseline levels of mercury in residents and follow-up sampling. This information will assist in the implementation of consumption advisories. Nalcor has prepared a Human Health Risk Assessment Preliminary Report  which is available in Responses to Information Requests Volume 8, Attachment E at the above link.
Mandy Norris
______________________________________
Thanks again Mandy,

And I apologize that this was forwarded on to you when I was hoping to get an answer from my government representatives. That’s politics I guess.

Cheers
denise

 

Chats with Mandy at the Nalcor public relations and communications department (I assume)

Oct 29 – Nov 14, 2012

We were eventually encouraged to address Nalcor directly.  So I did.  My first question in the Fall of 2012 was about Dredging Sand.  Mandy was prompt, so I asked more about alternative energy and clarification on the issues surrounding clearing the land.

I have to say, this particular line of questions were well answered and helpful, until she started directing me into the heart of the documentation, which one would not necessarily call “reader-friendly”:

Contact email: LowerChurchill@nalcorenergy.com

____________________________________________________

Nalcor …

I am curious as to the plan to control the build up of sand against the dam structure at the lower Churchill.

I understand that the Grand River is quite sandy, such that the sand dunes in the river shift frequently.  Such conditions would suggest there would be a continuous need to dredge the reservoir.  What is the plan to ensure the longevity of the site?  How frequent would the area have to be cleared and what is the anticipated impact on the fish that might eventually come back to live in the new reservoir?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Sincerely
Denise Hennebury

____________________________________________________

Hi Denise,

The sedimentation and geomorphology of the river has been modelled and we have a comprehensive understanding of the the future reservoir conditions (refer to the attached component studies).  Although there will be some sedimentation behind the dam, estimated to be approximately 1 million cubic meter per year, the volume represents only 0.1% of the entire reservoir capacity.  As well, regardless of reduction in reservoir capacity the deposition of material would have no impact on the net head of the facility or power production. As such there would be no impact to the longevity of the site.  Based on factors there would be no requirement to dredge the reservoir and no impact to fish populations that will currently exist and will continue to exist in the new reservoir.

Thank you,
Mandy Norris

____________________________________________________

 

Mandy,

Thank you for that response, that certainly is a major concern of mine as I was reviewing information about the project.  It is good to know that the reservoir is anticipated to normalize in some way.

Another two questions I have as I watch the videos on the new Power Is In Our Hands are also environmental.

1 — There is mention of Wave energy in the videos.  What models were used in studying wave energy for NL?  and Is there plans to develop these?

2 — Though I appreciate that the Lower Churchill development will eventually result in less Green House Gas emissions then running Holyrood as is into the future, however initially there is a significant foot print.  Has there been work to enumerate the emissions that will result from flooding and how long it will take for those emissions to reduce to natural levels? Are there maps of the flood planes for the two projects and what area of that land will be fully cleared (versus the steeper hills which I understand will not be able to be fully cleared)?

I am really trying to get my head around the project and the environmental information seems less emphasized then the economics.

Thanks again.
Denise Hennebury

____________________________________________________

Hi Denise,

In response to question #1 : Despite some limited successes, neither tidal nor wave power has become a commercial mainstream source of renewable energy. Consequently, NLH screened out the use of wave and tidal power as an alternative supply option for the Isolated Island alternative.


Further information can be found in Nalcor’s submission to the PUB for the Muskrat Falls review on Page 82, section: 4.2.11 Wave and Tial

http://nalcorenergy.com/uploads/file/NalcorFinalSubmissiontoPUBforMuskratFallsReview(1).pdf

I am still working on the information to your second question.


Thank you,
Mandy

____________________________________________________

Hi Denise,

Please find the remainder of the information you requested below.

Nalcor has completed extensive studies regarding the production of greenhouse gases during impoundment and operation phases of the Lower Churchill Project. The results, as described in the EIS, Volume IIA, Chapter 3, can be found on the Nalcor website at the following link:

http://nalcorenergy.com/lower-churchill-project-environmental-assessment.asp

Nalcor has provided additional detail in their responses to information requests from the Joint Review Panel during the environmental assessment which will be available at the above link. Nalcor’s responses to information Requests JRP.7/7S and JRP.85/85S explains in detail the potential displacement of greenhouse gas emitting energy sources in the market and the estimated emissions from the construction and operating phases of the Project. Modelling studies have indicated that the long term emissions from the project are negligible compared to the potential for displacement.

JRP. 148 describes the analysis completed to determine the clearing to occur during reservoir preparation activities. The estimated area and to be removed for the optimal option and the ‘full clearing’ option are indicated in Table 1. The chosen option includes 1800ha of clearing, as compared to the 3300ha for full clearing. As indicated in JRP.85, Table 1, a comparison of three levels of clearing (including ‘no clearing’), reveals minimal discrepancy in greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the removal of additional vegetation from the reservoirs would not provide a significant reduction in emissions.

Inundation mapping for the Muskrat Falls and Gull Island reservoirs can be found in JRP. 96. The Muskrat Falls reservoir will be 41 km2, which is relatively small as compared to similar size hydroelectric projects.

Thank you,

Mandy Norris

____________________________________________________

This all came with a load of attachments …

R148

IR148 Appendix A

IR096

IR085

IR008

IR007S and 085S

IR007

AE_WQ_03_Sedimentation and Morphodynamics Study

AE_WQ_01_Water and Sediment Modelingm

Back as I was Starting to ask questions … Oct 2011

I thought it was abut time to post some communications I have had with various people at government and Nalcor around the project … let’s begin in the fall of 2011 when I began my own research.

I am about to go through my email and share a few more of these …

Oct 20, 2011

Hello Ms. Hennebury,

Andrea Power, Constituency Assistant to MHA Steve Kent forwarded an email of questions that you had regarding Muskrat Falls.  Listed below is the reply from the department with respect to your question.

1) Does the muskrat falls plan include ridding the province of fossil fuel burning energy?  And what is the time frame on that?

Output from the Muskrat Falls Project will be used to meet the growing demand for electricity on the Island and to displace oil-fired thermal generation at Holyrood. 

There are currently 22 isolated communities in Labrador and on the Island which remain isolated form the interconnected grids.  These communities rely on diesel generated electricity.  One of these communities, Ramea, is the site of a wind-hydrogen-diesel pilot project and, should this technology prove to be commercial, then we may employ the same technology in other communities. 

In Labrador, Government is funding a second study into identifying wind or small hydro sites that can provide all or some of the energy needs of the isolated communities. 

This work is ongoing.

2) We need to see a map that shows where the transmission line will go down through the island

Attached is a link to the Lower Churchill Project.  You may find this beneficial   http://www.nalcor.ca/transmission-handouts.asp (old link)


Should you require any further information, please contact

 

Mr. Charles Bown

Associate Deputy Minister, Energy

Natural Resources

Carbon and Culture (for On the Go, VOCM)

A series of emails sent to Back Talk/ On the Go November 19, 2012

________________________________________________

It scares me that Kathy Dunderdale it talking about the other parties in the house as if they are nagging siblings trying to get their way. Government is not meant to be run by a single party taking ideas from the others only as they see fit. Yet here we are. And then Dunderdale comes out and says they have been as fair as they can be! Personally, in talking with anyone from the PC party, I don’t feel I get anything back but the party line, nothing that I couldn’t read from a website or press release.

As things got hairy, the government created a giant flashy ad campaign to share all of the benefits of the Muskrat Falls project and then did a small poll to see if their tactic worked.

What is the government afraid of? If they are so sure of this project, meaningful open debate should be allowed. I guess they are worried that if it gets out that there will be environmental devastation, cultural crippling, that the carbon emissions will not be significantly better then those at Hollyrood and that there is real scientific risk of mercury bio-accumulation in the river and Lake Melville that will last decades; maybe more of their support will wane?

Yet it seems to me it would only be fair, that the same money tree that affords the government to inundate us with pro muskrat falls information should also fund a pamphlet about the concerns so that we can decide as a people where our values lie!

Denise Hennebury

Environmental Educator from Mount Pearl

________________________________________________

Denise, Thanks for your email. We’ll read from it this afternoon on OTG. Can you please give me a bit more detail on two of your points? How could MF be “cultural crippling”, and how might “the carbon emissions… not be significantly better than those at Hollyrood”?

Thanks Ted Blades

________________________________________________

Thanks for asking for the clarification; hopefully I can share what I mean here:

Carbon:

It is hard to numerate the environmental costs associated with the project, especially when you consider the long-term effects. However Holyrood is an established site, and that is how we have to compare it to the next project. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone the burning of fossil fuels, however I do believe that the math could support that there would be no net benefit of Muskrat Falls over Holyrood in the next 20 or maybe 30 year. And we could use that time to develop wave or tidal plants (consider Scotland’s huge wave energy industry).

At Muskrat Falls, when the land is prepared for flooding not all the organic material is removed. In fact even if the locals wanted to take some of that wood, they have been denied access in the past (not that such small scale removal would make much of a difference, so I digress). The valley is too steep in many places to remove the wood, and still not all the organic material will be removed where it can be cleared (roots, topsoil). The rotting vegetation will release carbon dioxide and methane (methane being the worse or the two for green house gasses). But that may be of little consequence considering the creation of such a large facility at such a remote location. The carbon release in clearing the land, moving supplies and moving people in and out of the site for 6 years needs to be considered as well.

What I am suggesting is that between rotting vegetation, harvesting trucks, concrete mixers, sewage removal, helicopter trips, security measures, construction personnel, and the list goes on, the carbon foot print will be astronomical in a process that began a year ago and will go until NO SOONER than 2018.

If we were to truly compare the numbers, it has been said by people smarter than I that in the short term we will be in no better of a situation, and in the long term we could have make less ecologically sound choices.

Culture ..

For full disclosure, I live in Mount Pearl. That is important because it is not just those downstream that will feel the loss of this river. Even here I am heart sick about this project! Such a significant piece of our Natural Heritage will be destroyed. Such a key aspect of the shape and integrity of our land will be dismissed for the relatively short-term gains of a generation. The Earth heals herself, she changes, fish populations will be poisoned and reduced, and the water will continue to find its way. However in a culture that embraces so strongly our link to the land, this sort of disrespect for our past and the loss of that connection for future generations will never be healed. Those children will never know the largest river in the province … they will know 3 giant reservoirs.

I also am in conversation with a lot of Labradoreans (none of whom I even knew 3 months ago). I hear their pain and loss and sense of betrayal ever day. Many Southern Inuit of the region still eat wild game and especially fish. With poisoning of the waterways with methyl mercury, there will be another ban on the consumption of these species from the waters. An advisory from Environment of Canada has listed Lake trout and Northern pike for limited use for food from Smallwood reservoir and a distance below … STILL!

Like our language, food is a major part of any people’s culture. Add to that the spiritual refuge the river provides to the local people, and the history it embraces! There are spirits at Muskrat Falls, and to hear the people talk about it give you chills. Those spirits cannot be content in a concrete wall.

Hope this answers you questions.

Cheers,

Denise

________________________________________________

Thanks for both emails; it really clears it up for and I’ve incorporated some of these into your first email

Ted

Shouldn’t We Know Better? – Talking with Dennis Woodrow Burden

It has been a number of years since I had begun looking into the reality of the Muskrat Falls Hydro Electric project on Grand River in Labrador.  Since about the same time as it seemed our provincial government were getting serious about it.
I didn’t believe it would ever go through.  Not in this day and age, I thought; mega dams are old technology and we know the difference now.  Even the USA has be reversing these projects and have dismantled close to 500 in the last decade, they are just to dangerous to keep.  Plus there are so many other advanced opportunities.  I looked at countries such as Germany and Scotland with their use of solar, wind, and tidal.  Sure, the Bay of Fundy pushes more water on one tide than all the rivers on the planet combined!  There is enough energy hitting the earth in one second to supply us with all our energy need for a full year.  So no, they wouldn’t go ahead with it, it will never happen, I thought.
But no, the Newfoundland and Labrador government was pushing this through and there was no convincing them that there was any other way.

Dennis and his DogTeam
No worries though, thought I, a federal loan guarantee? Never! We would need to convince Nova Scotia that buying energy from us instead of buying from Quebec at a fraction of the cost is the way to go. Nova Scotia will never fall for it. Yet somehow, Harper’s “almost-guarantee” and Nova Scotia’s “maybe” is all that our government needs. A Danny William’s quote comes to mind, “We will go it alone!”
So, with all the talk of money and buyers and loans and promises those of us who are most worried about the project feel like we are banging our heads against the wall because no one seems to hear. Dam this river and the destruction will reach much further then the delta at Lake Melville. This project will sacrifice untouched wilderness, cripple communities, change currents, pollute the ocean, and that is just to start – and why? Not for one good reason, not one.
Let’s say it does go ahead, because most people swear to me that I can do nothing to stop it.  So let’s say they are right.  Once the damming at Muskrat Falls is complete, the seasonal changes get all switched around, the animals go out of balance, the locals stop eating the fish and the methane starts releasing into the atmosphere – the damage will not end there because the project is not a local project.  They need to ship this energy south, and that is not an easy task either.  Next, Nalcor will drive a transmission line down through one of the last pieces of untouched wilderness on the planet, and then across the straights with billions of tons of crushed rock to keep the icebergs away.  Haven’t we already heard enough about industry trying to deface this part of our province with talk of uranium mining in the straights area? It’s like people possessed by money have this terrible grudge against whatever is left on this Earth that’s pure.  As if they just want to kill it all.
Friends, the ocean is on her death bed, and the governmental of Newfoundland and Labrador are doing their best to assure us that they understand the full extent of these problems.  How much do you figure they spent on that ad, “The Power is in Our Hands!”?  If you watched that campaign without knowing what is happening behind the scenes, it would sound like an admirable environmental message from an inspiring government! Of course, the more you look, the more corrupt it becomes.
Sometimes it is still like a bad dream, I just cannot believe that we living on this very fragile rock (the only place we can find to support lives like us), yet we seem to be putting our greatest effort into clogging up her veins and just seeing how far we can go before we end up killing her.
We could have all our energy needs free from the sun, from the wind, from the movement of the sea.  No energy is without a price to the earth, but messing with water, the lifeblood of the planet, needs to stop.
The hemp plant could supply us with almost everything else we need!  Over half the oil sucked out of the Earth goes into making plastic, yet the hemp plant could replace all our plastic’s 50 000 industrial uses.  If the technology’s there, why are we not using it?  Well, I guess we know that answer.  Who of us will be the one to tell the oil companies to stop, or even slow drilling?
I once figured we live in this great country where you could cry “injustice” and the courts would give you justice! How naive.  Money speak so loudly and possesses the mind so deeply that our society conveniences itself that we are all better off when we are taking from the Earth every bit she can suffer.  Like seeds of evil, it runs deep and no one can hear.
I have tried reaching David Suzuki, Fifth Estate, Ecology Action Centre, among others and no one is strong enough to take this up.  The media too has been silenced.  So where do you go?  What do you do?  It is so frustrating!  There are days I feel like leaving it all behind, take my dog team as deep into the bush as I can go and hope that industry doesn’t reach me, at least in this lifetime.  But then it’s the kids to think about.  Maybe, like all animals, I have this built in instinct to further our species.  I don’t know what happens next.  Would Nalcor and this corrupt government, how much are they ready to sacrifice for this insane project?  There has to be a law somewhere; crimes against humanity … or something.  But I know I have to keep fighting for what is right and I can only hope that others will join me.
We are living on a very fragile planet.  Animals are going extinct at alarming rates as climate change threatens everything from the air we breath to the predictability of our weather that we take for granted.  The ocean is warming, the ice caps are melting, and science shows us that the ocean currents could actually stop … yet we carry on like a bunch of maggots, only seeing the retreating ice as an opportunity to drill for oil on the newly exposed northern lands.
I get this anxious and kind of desperate feeling, how can we go on like this?  How can we push these projects through.  How can we look at out kids and say we were there and did nothing?  How can we not scream out and tell everyone we see that is is wrong?  Humans, we are suppose to be the intelligent ones!
From: Dennis Woodrow Burden
Port Hope Simpson, Newfoundland and Labrador

A Little Muskrat Rant

I don’t know if it is the smugness of our premier, the complete lack of respect the MPs seem to have for one another or blatant disregard the party has for the people who will be most closely effected by the Muskrat Falls project, however something just makes me uncomfortable about the whole thing.

And we are not talking about a one time issue.  We are looking at a systematic problem where business trumps good government and short term gains outweigh long term effects.

This is everything from Muskrat Falls to our choice to buy water from Figi instead of indulging in the highly regulated water from out taps.  From an environmentalist (as I am told I am) who tries to be a little better every day, how is it we can get away with the big mistakes?  Right!  Manufactured Demand!  Have you seen the Story of Stuff?  You should, nuff said, moving on …

Oh, actually … speaking of videos … I felt quite enlightened I after watching People of a Feather last week.  Then I subsequently became much more frustrated.  If the animals hold out after the dam is build, if the mercury is not such a public health concern, certainly no one will worry much about the changes of ice salinity patterns in Lake Melville.  Can’t even get started on that today.

Back to our government …

After a ceremonial filibusterer in the House before Christmas, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador can be assured that democracy has done their job, there was a vote, and since I am SURE no one’s job felt threatened along the way it was as fair as fair can be.  I am feeling a little bitter today and this may come out in my post.  So stick with me if you can.

Now that democracy has been served, we can move onto the next step, you know, getting the rest of the job approved.  Because, you see, this isn’t just about building a dam … we have to move that energy far and wide.  We have to get the energy to the island and then across again to Nova Scotia (assuming that in the end, they feel it is as good of an idea as Dunderdale believes).

The transmission lines have been a curiosity for me.  They will have to cross Labrador, go under the strait, make to the island, interrupt caribou habitat, pass over the island and then go under the sea again to Nova Scotia.  Nothing can go wrong over such a distance, right?  No wait, they are anticipating problems in the strait: icebergs for instance!  But there is a plan … simply redirect the currents …you know … the ocean currents.  Yah, nothing can go wrong there!

Let’s call this one a rant!

I cannot even keep my thoughts straight. So instead I will give you a break from reading, let you get back to your regularly scheduled research and come back soon with a less surface and more through provoking look at the issues.

Thanks for listening.

denise

Why I Am Here (by: Dennis Woodrow Burden – Port Hope Simpson, Labrador)

The following is his statement about why my friend Dennis decidedDennis and his ax to attempt removing Nalcor’s presence at Muskrat Falls starting with this first pole today December 18, 2012.  He was quickly arrested and removed from the site.  Dennis was later released and a court date is to be set.  I had the pleasure of meeting and standing with Dennis earlier this Fall.  A peaceful, respected and intelligent man.  However eventually we all have to wonder how long we will follow the law, when that same law doesn’t seem to be protecting what we all hold to dear.  Please read, read again and share. ~denise

Why I Am Here – Stop the destruction of Muskrat Falls, Labrador, Canada!

by: Dennis Woodrow Burden – Port Hope Simpson, Labrador

I have studied this project for quite a while now and I can`t find one good reason to do it. All over the planet they are doing some great things with wind and solar, there is absolutely no need for this destruction! There are better ways! So I decided to try and get that message out there. I went to Muskrat Falls on September 3, 2012 and did a little protest with a few friends, stood in front of the camera and spilt my guts, that was very hard for me to do and we get what? 5 seconds of air time?

Nothing about the corruption that’s going on around us! Just a comment about “mumbo jumbo” and “tree huggers” makes the news. And then it’s Danny Williams, with the dollars, turn. Seems to me he stands there in front of the camera and lies to us for hours if he wants too, yes, then some good news…I heard Danny Dumaresque on “Talk with Sue”, I was smiling hard and telling all the boys, “They gotta stop it now Danny spilt the beans on them last night” Still it continues!

Then it was off to sin johns (St. John’s, NL) with my daughter, couldn’t pass up the opportunity! So it was a protest on the steps of Confederation Building (November 5, 2012), thanks to the folks who showed, but you guessed it, another 5 seconds! What do they do then? Yup, they spend a million, more maybe, on a commercial (the power is in our hands). I believe that is the biggest bunch of lies ever – it isn’t green!!

Back home for a while now, had Boil Up Protest on the St. Lewis Causeway (November 18, 2012). Some people showed and more would have if they would have known, god love them the message is getting out.

But time is of the essence, 1/2 a billion spent on it already, unsanctioned though!! So I guess it’s now or never. No next week or tomorrow it’s today it’s now! We know the difference! There are better ways, this is just wrong! We have to stop it! It can`t continue! It’s just a slaughter of our home (planet Earth), its suicide yup, seems we have this terrible grudge against her, our mother earth. Let’s take every bit of fresh water left – dam it, poison it, sell it to us and send it off to the oceans.

Labrador is what?? Labrador is 1/3 water covered, it doesn`t stop with the Grand River!!! It isn`t green, we know that some dams are far worse than coal fired generators of the same capacity. Yes far worse for global warming (our greatest threat). All you hear about these days are the riches that abound in this great land called Labrador. All across this once proud country certainly, the plan is “lets dig it out, faster is better, forget tomorrow. Let’s import people to help with the slaughter! Oh the riches, the riches, the riches” Why is it we are running a 600 billion dollar deficit?????

I could go on and on about the wasted dollars, but I would probably be a fan of money spent in solar or wind. 20 billion could be better spent yes! Let’s invest in the future if we are going to invest!

About the disgusting way Labrador has been treated at the hands of the NL government, do we really need the power??? Is Hollyrood, just another big bad Quebec fairytale??? Dams are not green and there is more work (jobs) associated with solar.

I`m sick of the way we humans keep crawling over her (mother earth) like a bunch of maggots. Sick of the corrupt governments greed and lies! I`m sick from the polluted atmosphere! We live in a time where in most major cities you need to wear a mask to venture outside! Sick of global warming (our greatest threat), it has changed our oceans temperature so much that massive storms are on our doorstep! Our oceans have become home to the great pacific garbage patch (some reports say its 15,000,000 square kilometers in size or in some media reports up to twice the size of the continental USA, A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic).

A study done by National Academy of Science estimated 6.4 million metric tons, 14 billion pounds, of trash enter the oceans every year (1975) I`m sick of that too! 1.7 trillion dollars spent on weapons last year, sick of that too! It makes me sick that I have to wonder if the seals, the birds, the fish, the moose I kill are edible anymore! And I hear governments are spraying the sides of the highways to kill the vegetation in hopes the moose will leave the area (sick isn’t it)! We need to stop this insane thirst we have for destruction there are better ways! Imagine if we would have went with solar 100 years ago, but the oil companies with the dollars put a stop to that in a hurry…

Imagine if we would have used that amazing hemp plant. The hemp plant was one of humankind’s first cultivated plants and there is quite a lot to educate oneself about this greatly historical plant. With the help of the hemp plant we, as a society could eliminate smog from current fuels, create a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, remove radioactive waste from the soil, and eliminate smog from our skies in more industrialized areas. The hemp plant could assist in eliminating non-biodegradable plastics and cars by reintroducing Henry Ford’s 100 year old dream of building cars made from hemp with a plastic hemp car body that can withstand a blow 10 times as great as steel without denting, weighs 1 thousand pounds less than steel, hence improving gas mileage, can run on a vegetable oil based all natural hemp fuel, and has a completely biodegradable body. Nationwide hemp production could eliminate deforestation by converting current paper to hemp paper which can be recycled up to 8 times where as our current wood pulp is only recyclable up to 3 times, and we could thrive from eating hemp seeds and feeding it to our animals and livestock. Industrial hemp can make our future roads, highways and freeways from hemp based concrete, which lasts for centuries. Society can benefit from the hemp plant’s attributes such as oxygen production, hemp’s dense root structure, and hemp’s nutrient and nitrogen production back into the soil. Chemicals in cannabis can be used in medicines and are estimated to treat around 250 diseases and illnesses, from which studies have shown inhibits the growth of cancer cells in rats, as well as a long list of other ailments. Finally, we could make an estimated 50,000 products ranging from building composites, cellophane, and dynamite to shampoo, textiles, twine and yarn. If the US grew industrial hemp it could stop wars, save the environment, boost our economy, improve general health and wellbeing, virtually end our reliance on any foreign entity, and save humankind from itself. But no the oil companies with the dollars and their corrupt governments made it illegal to grow this plant!!

Is it human destiny do destroy our habitat and die??? Have you ever looked at other planets and wondered if we have been there also???? Maybe the dollar maggots know something I don`t, another planet we can jump on when we`ve finished raping this one?? I guess the problem is that we don`t know how to put solar in a barrel, so damn the rivers and sell you some poison.

It’s not just Labrador and Newfoundland who is going to pay; it’s all across Canada who will pay in dollars! And all across this planet who will pay in loss of habitat, OUR habitat, OUR home!!

Amazing things have been done! We put a man on the moon 50 years ago, ice hockey in mid- August, cars that drive themselves. I could sit at my desk and kill another innocent human being on the other side of the planet with this amazing piece of technology called “the drone” if I had money enough. Oh and don`t forget the amazing little thing called the wireless remote. Remember not having to get off the couch to change the channel anymore, so we can send energy by wireless right???? Yes, we could, just stick two probes out through the window and suck it outta the atmosphere. It’s there and it’s free! Imagine, we could continue to live here if we just do it right!! Yes I look at other planets, the ones with no life giving necessities and wonder, have we been there???

So I stand here today and chop down this pole. I will be charged, yup, but that is how strongly I feel about the corruption around us! How strongly I feel for us, the inhabitants of this planet. For my kids and unborn grandkids! And for me, knowing that I tried will bring some comfort I hope. We owe this to the future, there has to be smarter choices made today! Our kids need somewhere to live!

I do this for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence as her hunger strike continues. It’s just a phone call you know…..hey there is a junkie smoking a joint on the side walk here and before you hangs up the phone the neighborhood is crawling with cops………yet, you can stand there and scream all day about some corrupt Government stealing a billion dollars from the people and no one hears…..that is the sick world we live in today!!

I do this for the NunatuKavut elders Ken Mesher, James and John Learning and the sacrifices they make for the next generations.

And I do this in memory of Burton Winters of Makkovik, Labrador. The little guy who the system failed, cripes that was ugly, it’s like they didn`t care! That’s not my Canada! I do this against our corrupt greedy lying government! Yes I will stand here today and strike my blow for humanity; I will chop down this pole! And I beg all humanity to live up to their responsibilities! HELP!!!!!!

I have a wish, a wish that our corrupt governments would look to the future and stop the greed that has infected them, to find the better way, be human and want a better world for our kids. A world where they could drink from the streams, play outside without wearing an oxygen mask, eat from the oceans and not have this continuous struggle against the sick powers that be! Maybe it’s just a wish, a hopeless dream. Maybe it’s too late already. But I will stand up! I owe it to my kid…and also I want their kid’s kids to know I tried!!

How desperate do we have to get….can you not hear our cry….stop killing my planet!!

Dennis Woodrow Burden – December 2012

Here is Dennis’ original document: Dennis Woodrow Burden Why I am Here Dec16

What is “Mostly Support” anyway?

Stephen Harper is in the province today to announce the loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls. Interesting move since the approval rating on this project is waning.  So now we have the provincial government pushing the project through, the federal government pushing the project through and all on the backs of precarious support from the population as a whole.

In two recent polls the numbers have shown discontent, at very least.  Both polls surveyed 400 people (less than 0.1% of the population).  In the original poll, commissioned by the coalition I Believe in the Power of N.L. and conducted by Corporate Research Associates, reads that two thirds of the population either strongly supported or mostly supported the development of Muskrat Falls to meet the future power need of Newfoundland and Labrador.  A second poll commissioned by CBC showed slightly more opposition and asked more questions to get a greater sense of what the numbers are telling up.

The reality is, that interpreting that poll as if it was a simple yes or no question is as short sighted as assuming that voting for the PCs in our last election was equivalent to saying yes to Muskrat Falls development.

So let’s consider the numbers, and since the original poll is so wrought with ambiguity, let’s pick on that a little.  (The poll is here.)

If I were to tell you “I mostly support your project”, what direction would you proceed in?  Let’s assume I am your boss, I write your pay cheques, and I am only “mostly” supportive of your project.  Wouldn’t you want to then try to get me on board?  Wouldn’t the next step be to help me better understand what you are telling me and maybe work with me so that we are both on the same page?  I would think so.

Yet, the coalition is being so bold as to say that they have the support of two thirds of the population.  Further interpretation suggests that if they remove those who were unaware or on the fence about the project, they have 80% of the decided public on side.

I think there is a different interpretation of this poll.  Considering the above scenario, as I look at the numbers I am reading that Muskrat Falls has the support of less than one third of the population (28%) another third (38%) is asking to be convinced, and the final third (34%) you really need to talk to if you think this should go ahead!  And then we get to the next problem with the assumptions being made.  When I suggest “talk to,” I mean TALK TO … I do not mean push their opinions aside as if they don’t matter, I do not mean belittle them in front of their fellow citizens, I do not mean have them call you and assume that if they do not they support you!

If our elected members will not get out into the public to ask their constituents their opinion and rational about such an important matter, how is their vote going to reflect their riding?

Of course one other major issue comes up, whose opinion matters most?  Assuming this poll was fully randomized, around 24 of those 400 would have been from Labrador.  How is it even ethical to get “permission” from people all over the province on a project in Labrador?  It is a financial risk for people in St. John’s, however those living close to Grand River will bear the financial risk, experience the environmental devastation, be exposed to physical risk (such as dam failure and mercury poisoning), loose eco-tourism opportunities and perhaps most importantly, they will have a culturally meaningful significant location completely removed.  Yet as part of less than 6% of our population, their opinion carries inconsequential weight.

Stephen Harper is ready to commit the rest of Canada to this project; certainly, it is not in their backyards either.  However there is still a vote to be had.  I cannot tell you one way or the other how this might go.  There is a lot of people assuming this is a done deal!  But how many calls does it take for your MHA to at least reconsider their vote?

I have been filling this blog is information from everywhere.  I have been trying to stay on top of the developments, but like most of us, I have a job, and volunteer projects, a family and a home.  I am not a politician and rarely so political.  Yet this project boils my blood and I am incensed that our MHAs are not searching for the opposition in their riding’s and trying to understand all sides.

I do not hide that I am wholly against this project.  But there is something bigger wrong here and it is in the group of individuals who “mostly support” the project. Contact your MHA, copy your premier, share your thoughts and let’s tell them what we think! How many people do they need to hear from to realize that this is not a yes or no question?  We need more answers, we need to let our government know – and they need to know by Tuesday!

Denise Hennebury

Environmental Educator living in Mount Pearl