Reject Canadian Hydropower: A Human Rights and Environmental Disaster

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As the climate emergency escalates, governments are seeking ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “go green.” The hydropower industry is seeking to profit from the climate emergency by falsely marketing its power as “clean, green, sustainable and renewable.” Canadian hydropower is dirty energy and should not be allowed to qualify for subsidies or be considered “clean energy.” It is a human rights, climate, and environmental disaster. 

Sign our petition to stop new megadams in Canada and join us in calling for American politicians to reject Canadian hydropower as a source of renewable energy. 

Human rights violations:

•Megadams flood thousands of acres of traditional Indigenous land and are often built without the consent of the communities that they will be adversely affecting. 

•Hydropower destroys traditional ways of life and prevents Indigenous People across the world from practicing their cultural pursuits. 

•Hydro-Quebec, Nalcor Energy, Manitoba Hydro, and B.C. Hydro are responsible for the cultural genocide of Indigenous communities throughout Canada. The creation of the Nalcor Energy and Hydro-Quebec Upper Churchill Falls dam in 1974 in Labrador flooded 2,000 square miles of Innu First Nation hunting grounds displacing communities that continue to suffer from these impacts today. 

Methylmercury poisoning:

•The flooding of forests, rivers, streams, and wetlands to create reservoirs releases toxic methylmercury that persists in the environment for up to 30 years and poisons food supplies relied on by local communities.

•According to a recent Harvard University study, 90 percent of proposed Canadian hydroelectric facilities may expose local Indigenous communities to unacceptable levels of methylmercury. 

Greenhouse gas emissions:

•Electricity produced from large dams can emit greenhouse gases on par with fossil fuels according to recent science. With less than twelve years to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to have hope of a livable future, there is no time to invest in false climate solutions such as hydropower.

•Canadian megadams are in an area where the amount of power produced per acre of flooded land is among the lowest in the world

•A recent study published in BioScience shows that hydroelectric dams worldwide release a billion tons of greenhouse gases per year due to the flooding of forests, peatlands, rivers, and other ecosystems. The creation of reservoirs for power generation also wipes out important sources of carbon sequestration such as boreal forests. 

Biodiversity:

•Megadams have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of boreal forests, wetlands, and peatlands and diverted and dammed hundreds of rivers and streams, negatively impacting the flow, function, and ecology of rivers and forests.

•According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems is being lost more quickly than in any other ecosystem with an 88% decline in freshwater megafauna between 1970 and 2012. 

•The damming of rivers and altering of their flows have dire effects on the organisms dependent on these ecosystems by blocking nutrients, destroying critical habitat, disrupting the food chain and causing higher amounts of stress in plants and animals, which can lead to illness, genetic mutation and/or death. 

No transparency or accountability:

•The Canadian hydropower industry is a government-owned monopoly with the exclusive right to exploit rivers for profit across the country.  

•Companies such as Hydro-Quebec have not had to disclose their greenhouse gas accounting models or other information concerning emissions and large dams that the public has every right to see. 

New megadams are underway and more are planned to satisfy export markets in the United States:

•In Quebec, Hydro-Quebec is building the massive Romaine dam complex. This project consists of four separate megadams producing 1,550 MW.  

•In Labrador, Nalcor Energy finished flooding the Muskrat Falls reservoir in Summer, 2019 and is finalizing plans to build the 2,250 MW Gull Island dam. The Gull Island Dam will be almost three times the size of Muskrat Falls. This project further fragments the river increases methylmercury contamination and threatens Indigenous ways of life. 

Stop transmission corridors for American importation of dirty Canadian hydro:

•In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Hydro-Quebec to provide the state with this so-called “clean energy.”

•In New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, is also considering signing a similar agreement.

•In Maine, Governor Janet Mills is supporting the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) which will bring electricity produced by megadams in Canada to Massachusetts through Maine. This 145-mile transmission line will slice through Maine’s forests, wetlands, streams, rivers, and ponds threatening vital wildlife habitat and carbon sequestering ecosystems, as well as tourism and recreation interests. 

•According to a recent poll, over 65% of Mainers oppose this project and signatures are currently being collected for a referendum on this ill-advised project in the fall of 2020.

•NECEC will not provide significant economic benefits to Maine. Instead, this corridor will jeopardize the creation of real clean energy jobs in Maine. 

•This transmission line threatens Maine’s thriving outdoor recreation industry and will also threaten local, long-term renewable energy jobs. 

About us:

The North American Megadam Resistance Alliance is an alliance focused on protecting rivers and their communities by resisting megadams and their transmission corridors.