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The Columbia Journal
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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Two    April 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    SE2 Cancellation seen as Victory for Fraser Valley

    Marco Procaccini

    The recent National Energy Board decision to deny Sumas Energy Inc.’s application to build an international power line for its proposed thermal power station may finally spell the end of a four-year battle between the firm and the citizens of the Fraser Valley, say activists.

    The Board ruled March 4 that any economic benefits of the project would be vastly outweighed by both ecological and economic burdens it would create. The 8.5 kilometre line was to originate at the proposed 660-megawatt gas-fired power plant near Sumas, Washington and run northward to a sub station in Abbotsford.

    It found that the “burdens in Canada associated with the IPL and Power Plant would be many and real. Most would be borne almost entirely by the local and regional communities, whereas the benefits would be either external to these communities or negligible in value.”

    Residents and activists alike have hailed the decision as a victory for the public interest. The issue of the proposed power plant pitted the company and the State of Washington against virtually all of the communities on both sides of the border.

    Environmentalists, labour and many local business groups and community organizations, city councils and politicians from across the spectrum at all levels of government have lobbied and spoken out against the project since it was first proposed in 2000.

    “We are pleased with the NEB decision,” said Stuart Mackinnon, president of the Society Promoting Environmental conservation. “Stopping SE2 is the right thing to do. SE2 would threaten the health of Fraser Valley residents and impact negatively on the environment of the entire region. It was the combined effort of thousands of Fraser Valley and Whatcom County residents, environmental and health organizations and local decision makers who worked very hard and for a very long time to protect their communities.”
    Environment Canada has identified the Fraser Valley air shed as already subject to some of the poorest air quality in the country. The operation of the SE2, which Mackinnon says would put out close to three tons of pollutants into the Lower Fraser Valley air shed every day, would make it that much worse.

    The NEB decision still has to be ratified by Prime Minster Paul Martin. Sierra Legal Defence Fund lawyer Tim Howard says lobbying efforts will continue to get the prime minister to support the NEB ruling.

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