Environmental Groups are celebrating yesterday’s decision by Sumas Energy 2 to not appeal the Federal Court of Appeal decision rejecting the company’s proposal to build a power line from across the American border into BC’s Fraser Valley. After Sierra Legal Defence Fund helped fight the project for over 5 years, the battle finally appears over.
Representing the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) and the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Legal led the fight in ensuring that the National Energy Board review of SE2’s power line included an examination of the pollution impacts in Canada of its 660 MW power plant just over the border in Sumas, Washington. Fraser Valley residents and community groups, along with the Province of BC, also fought hard against SE2’s proposal and were delighted when the NEB rejected the project in March, 2004. SE2 appealed that decision to the Federal Court of Appeal, which took less than three days this past November to hear all the submissions and throw out Sumas Energy 2’s arguments.
“We can all breathe easier now,” said Sierra Legal lawyer Tim Howard. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when regular citizens and environmental organizations unite to stop an injustice to the community.”
SE2’s proposed power line would have run through Abbotsford from its nearby natural gas fired power plant in Washington State. The NEB ruled against SE2 because the power plant was in the wrong location, and would impose the burden of pollution on Canada without providing any benefits. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the company’s arguments that such a ruling exceeded the NEB’s powers under its statute, and also rejected SE2’s position that it violated NAFTA by creating trade barriers. Environmentalists are optimistic the outcome will send a strong message to foreign corporations.
“Canada’s environment is not for sale,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of SPEC. “Any other company that tries to pull something like this again would be in for the same long and costly fight that SE2 went through.”
The David Suzuki Foundation’s Climate Change Program Director, Morag Carter, added, “This is a real reason for Fraser Valley locals and all Canadians to celebrate. There is jubilation all the way from our office in Kitsilano to Abbotsford.”