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As Site C dam gets environmental approval, a local journalist's case against

Today the B.C. government gave the environmental go-ahead to the $7.9-billion Site C dam project that would flood the fertile, food-producing Peace River valley in northeastern B.C.

In so doing, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson declared Site C to be in the public interest, saying "the benefits provided by the project outweigh the risks of significant adverse environmental, social and heritage effects." 

But Max Fawcett, who served as a newspaper editor at the Chetwynd Echo in the Peace River area, came to the opposite conclusion after spending weeks investigating whether B.C. needs the energy the dam would supply and what will be sacrificed in terms of ecology and food security. His five-part series published in 2010 in The Tyee can be found here.

Fawcett's journey included many conversations with those whose homes will be inundated by the rising waters, leading him to write:

"In the Peace, where the consequences of the dam's construction will be felt most intimately, the ends come nowhere close to justifying the means. In fact, to many of its 22,000 residents, Site C is nothing more than a case of the Robin Hood principle in reverse, the rich stealing from the poor without even having the decency to look them in the eye while they're doing it."

The ministers' announcement today included a $20-million fund to compensate for lost agricultural lands and activities.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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