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Harper's 'green' BC powerline will boost mining

While announcing the $130 million federal contribution to build the Northwest Transmission Line in British Columbia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper puffed up its green credentials.

“Our government is supporting environmentally sound infrastructure and initiatives that promote cleaner, greener energy,” the government's press release quoted Harper saying. “The Northwest Transmission Line will facilitate the development of green energy and help provide British Columbia’s northern and remote communities with more sustainable and affordable power.”

But as the the Tyee has reported, the project long pushed by the province has only the slimmest claim on being good for the environment.

An April, 2007 Tyee story found the province's stated goal of getting northern residents off “dirty diesel” could be achieved through small scale electricity projects for a fraction of what the transmission line will cost.

The project was more likely a sop to the Northwest Powerline Coalition, an industry-led group that wrote a 2005 brief noting how the transmission line would be near upwards of a dozen potential mines, the story said.

And in November, 2008, the Tyee followed with a story noting that even the proposed mines were more of a “wish list” than a likely reality.

“It's not green if you consider the impact of developing the transmission line,” said New Democratic Party energy, mines and petroleum resources critic John Horgan.

With no money budgeted for the province's contribution and with energy, mines and petroleum resources minister Blair Lekstrom and finance minister Colin Hansen contradicting each other on where the money is likely to come from, Horgan said, “This ain't happening any time soon.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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