Thursday, March 25, 2010

Opposition to Run of River Offbase

My column in this week's 24 hours:

This week Vancouver is hosting Globe 2010, one of the biggest green business conferences in the world with over 10,000 people attending. Green business is becoming a big industry globally and here in BC it is our economy of the future, though there is an element of the left that opposes this.

One green business area BC excels at is in energy. We have the potential to produce enough new green electricity to make a significant difference to climate change. Our steep mountains with fast flowing streams and rivers are perfect for micro hydro projects. Since half of North America's electricity is still coal fired, there is a need for BC to build green power capacity quickly if there is going to be any reduction in CO2 emissions.

There is a track record now to show run of the river really delivers what it promises, electricity with no measurable impact to the environment. The time is now to speed up the process for bringing more of projects online. To date most of the projects have been one off sites, now we need to see bigger networked proposals like the Plutonic Power Bute Inlet project.

The Bute Inlet project is 17 small facilities networked together to provide enough power for 300,000 houses. Bute Inlet is an area that is actively being logged, has mineral claims and has tourism developments like an airstrip in the most important wildlife habitat. The run of the river sites will have no impact on the area when compared to what is already happening there and will reduce some of the existing environmental damage. Sounds great, but as with it seems with everything on this planet, there are people opposed.

The opposition to green power in BC is not from lobbyists for the coal industry or Sarah Palin wannabes, but from left wing groups claiming to care about the environment. The opposition paints themselves with green rhetoric, but does not provide any evidence of adverse effects of run of the river power production. Their real agenda they have is against for profit businesses and capitalism.

There remains an element in our society that still believes businesses can be of no benefit to the public and certainly can not do things better than the government can. Their ideology means they are opposing an efficient, profitable and effective strategy to combat climate change.

Run of the river power in BC provides us with the greenest power possible, more jobs, more taxes, and profitable companies. It is also providing First Nations with much needed economic development and non-government revenues. Opposing this is nonsensical but ideology takes over and creates an Orwellian mindset where profit means environmental destruction.

Gordon Campbell will go down in history as one of the heroes of environment because his government made it possible for green power to be developed in BC. This decision means private companies are willing to spend tens of billions of dollars in BC on green developments. No ideological double think from the left will change the legacy of this fundamentally positive decision.
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