Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Case Against Sumas II Power Project

A recent National Energy Board (NEB) decision denying U.S. company Sumas Energy 2 the right to build a power line in Canada is heading for the Federal Court of Appeal today, and renowned lawyer Thomas R. Berger, Q.C. is now on board to argue against the appeal.

Sierra Legal Defence Fund Lawyer Tim Howard has filed the response to the appeal on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation and Society for Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC).  Most of the air pollution from the SE2 power plant would be received into the Fraser Valley airshed.  All of the energy generated would be transmitted along the proposed power line to a BC Hydro substation.  The power would then flow through existing lines back to the United States, leaving Fraser Valley residents with all of the burdens and none of the benefits of the project.

“There is strong scientific evidence that the pollution generated by this project would increase health risks for Fraser Valley residents and undo recent efforts to reduce air pollution in the region,” said Howard.  “The NEB carefully considered all of the relevant evidence and found that the company had failed to show that the project was in the public interest or necessary.”

The NEB denied the application by Sumas Energy to build a high-tension power line through part of British Columbia’s Fraser Valley in March 2004.  The controversial power line is part of a project that would include the construction of a huge new gas-fired power plant just across the border in Washington State.  The NEB held 30 days of hearings during which the provincial government, Fraser Valley residents and environmental organizations presented evidence and expressed opposition to the project.  The company has appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver, claiming that the NEB bowed to public pressure and failed to give effect to NAFTA.

“The Federal Court of Appeal’s decision could have national implications, as this appeal challenges the jurisdiction of the NEB,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of SPEC.  “A decision in favour of this project could undermine the health of Canadians and our sovereignty.”

Lawyer Thomas R. Berger, Q.C. will present the legal arguments supporting the NEB’s decision in the Federal Court of Appeal.  Mr. Berger, a former judge of the B.C. Supreme Court, is one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers and has been involved in several historic cases.  This afternoon, Mr. Howard and Mr. Berger will file a detailed written argument in the Federal Court Registry on the third floor of 701 West Georgia Street.  The hearing of the appeal is likely to begin this fall.  Copies of the argument can be obtained from Sierra Legal lawyer Tim Howard.

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