Dams and Deforestation

When discussing the greenhouse gas impact of megadams such as Muskrat Falls, one area that is often overlooked is the amounts of forests, peatlands, and other carbon-sequestering ecosystems that must be flooded and/or cleared to create the reservoirs necessary to generate this power. Canada’s boreal forests and peatlands sequester massive amounts of carbon dioxide, in fact, according to the Natural Resources Defence Council, each year, clearcutting across the boreal forest releases more than 26 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Labradorian Eldred Davis stands beside just one of many piles of rotting wood chopped down to create the reservoir for the Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project.
Photo Courtesy: Roberta Frampton Benefiel

In addition to the massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane released from the creation of reservoirs, pristine wildlife habitat and culturally important lands for Indigenous communities are often destroyed. Muskrat Falls, for example, has marked a sacred place for the Innu and their ancestors for thousands of years and it was flooded without the tribe’s free, prior or informed consent.

Hydro-Quebec’s five largest reservoirs alone have flooded over 7,545 square miles of forests, bogs, rivers, and other ecosystems across the province. The crown corporations currently owns 27 reservoirs.

As electricity demand from the United States increases, more dams and transmission corridors will likely have to be constructed. This will result in greater amounts of deforestation and flooding across precious environments that are disappearing at a disturbing rate. This will only serve to further increase greenhouse gas emissions, destroy important wildlife habitat and further displace front-line communities.

Hydropower has no place in the future of clean electricity generation and should not be advertised as such. Instead, the focus must turn to implementing local clean electricity production and reducing overall electricity demand.

Pimicikamak And Manitoba Hydro Start Fresh After 40 Years Of Turmoil

In 2014, protests and occupation of Manitoba’s Jenpeg Dam on Pimicikamak territory by Pimicikamak people changed the relationship between Manitoba Hydro and this First Nations tribe.

The construction of the Jenpeg Dam and the monetization of the Nelson River violated Pimicikamak sovereignty and threatened thousand-year-old food webs. As Noretta Miswaggon, a Cree teacher and communications officer for Pimicikamak Okimawin, the nation’s self-government stated, “When Hydro built the dam, it severed our connection to the land.” The 2014 occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station transformed the Pimicikamak’s relationship with Manitoba Hydro.

This occupation significantly changed the dynamic between Manitoba Hydro and the Pimicikamak people and showed Manitoba Hydro that First Nations people can kick them out anytime they want. Not only have these actions brought an official apology from Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government, but they have also spurred the crown corporation to fund millions of dollars of community programs for the Pimicikamak.

Read more about this story here.

Join the MegaDams Resistance in St. John, New Brunswick on Sept. 9, 2019

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2nd Annual

International Protest Against Canadian Hydro

Join our rally at the Conference of Northeastern Governors & Eastern Canadian Premiers

Mon. Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. ATLANTIC TIME

Saint John Trade & Convention Centre, One Market Square, Saint John, New Brunswick E2L 4Z6, Canada

Why: The Canadian hydropower industry wants to double the amount of hydropower exported to the Northeast U.S. Northeast U.S. Governors are buying it!  

They ignore destruction caused by megadams  & transmission corridors — cultural genocide of Indigenous communities & environmental, economic & social damage.

Bring the megadams=megadamage message to them!

Indigenous community members who have been leading the Muskrat Falls resistance in Labrador, Canada will be attending. We will bring their voices to the Premiers and Governors – inside and outside the conference!

Encampment and solidarity building on Sunday, Sept. 8. Email for more information: info.megadamsresistance@gmail.com

Supporters of this event: Labrador Land Protectors, United American Indians of New England, Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Sierra Club, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, North American Megadam Resistance Alliance, Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, New Communities Project, Say NO to NECEC  (Maine), Jones River Watershed Association, New York Environmental Law & Justice Project, 350 Maine, RESTORE: The North Woods, Toxics Action Center

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Indigenous Land and Water Defenders Arrive in Ottawa to Demand End to Large Hydro Dams

On June 10, 2019 NAMRA will join Indigenous Land and Water Defenders in Ottawa on for a peaceful protest against megadams at the site of the International Coalition on Large Dams (ICOLD) conference. Over 1,100 delegates from over 85 countries will be meeting at a conference.

Representatives of a number of Indigenous communities adversely affected will converge at the protest.

Attendees will include:

Amy Norman, Nunatsiavummiuk, Labrador Land Protector, Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Dr. Ramona Neckaway, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House, Manitoba)

Carol Kobliski, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House, Manitoba)

Rita Monias, Pimicikamak Okimawin (Cross Lake, Manitoba)

A press conference will be held prior to the protest at Room 135-B in the West Block. Here is the press release.

Rita Monias is a leading advocate for Indigenous rights and spoke in Manitoba in 2018.

Labrador Land Protectors protesting Muskrat Falls:

          In a related story, on June 6, 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak called on Canada to use its leverage to address concerns about lack of proper consultation with Indigenous people (especially with respect to the parameters outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as the impending threat of methylmercury poisoning downstream of the massive Muskrat Falls megadam in Labrador.  

“I urge the Federal Government to use its leverage as the largest investor in the project to review whether UNDRIP compatible procedures were followed for all affected indigenous peoples, and to prevent the release of methyl mercury,”the Rapporteur told a news conference on Parliament Hill. The federal government backs the megaproject with $9.2 billion in loan guarantees despite well-documented concerns about dire ecological impacts and adverse affects on the lives of Indigenous people downstream. Courtesy of: http://homesnotbombs.blogspot.com/2019/06/united-nations-calls-on-trudeau.html

Grand Riverkeeper & Labrador Land Protectors Speaking Tour Spring 2019

The Grand Riverkeeper, Roberta Benefiel will be touring the Northeast U.S. for speaking engagements and meetings with key stakeholders from April 26 to May 1, 2019. She will be joined by Labrador Land Protectors and elders of the indigenous communities in Labrador via video conference a two conferences.

Tour schedule:

Saturday, April 27, 2019: Local Environmental Action conference:

Megadams = Megadamage: Clean & Green? NO Dam Way!

Presentation and discussion by members of Grand Riverkeeper Labrador Inc. and Labrador Land Protectors from Eastern Canada on why large hydro is a false solution to the climate crisis.

Worcester State University Student Center, 486 Chandler St, Worcester, MA 01602. Please visit the event website for more detailed directions.

Saturday, May 4, 2019, Building Thriving Communities, Sierra Club of Maine Conference

University of Maine, Hutchinson

Stop the Maine CMP Corridor for Megadam hydropower

Presentation by Grand Riverkeeper and Labrador Land Protectors on why the Avangrid/Central Maine Power transmission corridor is dirty energy and a climate disaster as well as human rights violation.