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Dam Opponents Celebrate International Day of Action for Rivers

The North American Megadams Resistance Alliance (NAMRA) stands in solidarity with groups opposing megadams on International Rivers’ Day of Action on March 14, 2019.  NAMRA is an international coalition of environmental and social justice groups opposing the ongoing destruction of rivers and communities by megadams.

The Day of Action highlights women’s role in protecting and managing rivers. NAMRA has organized speaking tours for women leaders from Labrador, Canada opposing the Muskrat Falls megadam. Marjorie Flowers, an Innu grandmother arrested and jailed for opposing the dam, Inuk Amy Norman, and Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Roberta Benefiel toured recently to raise awareness about methyl mercury poisoning caused by Muskrat Falls and the destruction of forests, the river, and indigenous ways of life. According to Benefiel, concerns with Muskrat Falls include “possible dam failure because the North Spur (a natural dam) is made up of made up of layers quick clay prone to liquefy under pressure or from further saturation.”

NAMRA’s solidarity extends to Indonesia in Southeast Asia where new megadams threaten Indigenous communities and the environment. The Tampur megadam threatens Indonesia’s globally significant Leuser Ecosystem, home to iconic rainforest species such as the Sumatran elephant and tigers. “The Tampur hydrodam is a catastrophic project that threatens communities and biodiversity and would destroy 4,000 hectares of critical forests inside the Leuser Ecosystem, as well as the river which communities depend on for their daily lives,” said Irham Hudaya Yunardi, of Forest, Nature, Environment of Aceh (HAkA) in Indonesia.

NAMRA’s supports communities opposing the transmission corridors that will bring megadam power to distant markets. In Maine, the controversial Iberdrola-Central Maine Power corridor will cut a 145-mile swarth through wilderness to bring electricity from remote areas of Canada to Massachusetts. Promoters claim it is clean energy. “Decades of studies show that megadams are climate busters, not climate saviors,” said Meg Sheehan, an attorney and coordinator for NAMRA. In addition to damaging rivers and communities, this is dirty energy and should be treated like fossil fuels,” Sheehan added.

International network supports activists testifying at government inquiry on Muskrat Falls megadam

Inuit Marjorie Flowers and Grand Riverkeeper Roberta Benefiel oppose Muskrat Falls at Inquiry on Feb. 22, 2019

North American Megadams Resistance Alliance (NAMRA) announced its support for Grand Riverkeeper’s Roberta Benefiel and Labrador Land Protector Marjorie Flowers who will testify against the controversial $12.9 billion Muskrat Falls megadam at Phase II of the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Muskrat Falls Project (Inquiry) established by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Inquiry is investigating project mismanagement and cost overruns by Nalcor, the Crown corporation building the megadam. Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Coalition, Benefiel, Flowers and others demanded the Inquiry, collecting over 1,000 petition signatures.

According to Benefiel, information “revealed beyond a shadow of a doubt that costs, studies, reports, and experts were manipulated by Nalcor to gain government approval. The decision-making process was horribly flawed and excluded meaningful consideration of the megadam’s devastating impacts on rivers and communities. The financial projections were also wrong. The inquiry is exposing just how corrupt and single-minded our previous and current governments have been in their head-long rush to build Muskrat Falls. Tragically, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will bear the financial, ecological, and societal costs forever. Our electric rates are projected to rise to about 21 cents per kilowatt hour in order to cover Nalcor’s cost overruns,” Benefiel said.

Flowers, an Inuit grandmother jailed multiple times for protesting the Muskrat Falls dam, will testify about the irreparable harm to her way of life and community from the dam. She states, “We are tired of the provincial government coming here to Labrador and using our lands for resource extraction with a brazen disregard for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, our cultures and the environment. My people have lived here for generations, relying on food from the river that is now going to be poisoned with methylmercury. The government and industry reap the benefits and leave giant footprints and toxic garbage, destroy forests, dam our rivers, poison our water and take more and more — leaving us to bear the cost. When I have dared to speak up, I have been jailed.”

NAMRA opposes the Muskrat Falls and Hydro-Quebec megadams and the many long-distance power lines proposed to bring Canadian hydropower to the United States. NAMRA spokesperson Meg Sheehan says “Multi-national corporations falsely claim this is ‘renewable’ clean energy. Destroying rivers and communities in Canada for ‘clean’ energy in the U.S. is unacceptable.”

Flowers and Benefiel will testify 2/22/19 at 9:30 a.m at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Center, Happy Valley-Goose Bay Labrador, Canada

Inquiry Webcast: www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca/

Marjorie Flowers, an Inuit woman from Nunatsiavut, Labrador, will speak on the effects of the Muskrat Falls hydro project, at the United American Indians of New England’s Day of Mourning, on Cole Hill, in Plymouth, Massachussetts, at noon on November 22, 2018.

A member of the Labrador Land Protectors, Flowers was born and raised in Rigolet, Labrador, near the site of the Muskrat Falls megadam under construction on the Grand (Churchill) River.

Since 2011, Indigenous people and settlers living in the HappyValley/ GooseBay region of Labrador – which is unceded Innu and Inuit land – have been excluded from a process that has allowed the Muskrat Falls megadam to proceed, regardless of their grave concerns about methylmercury poisoning of their traditional food web and the daily threat of dam collapse.

The Labrador Land Protectors state: “Our fears are real; some of us go to sleep at night with life preservers under our beds. We live the despair of knowing our way of life that has existed for generations is being threatened. Justin Trudeau recently apologized for a past act of Labrador cultural genocide, yet his government supports this impending act of cultural genocide with a $9.2 billion federal investment.”

Much of the resistance to the Muskrat Falls dam has taken place with very little media attention here in the United States. Dozens of land protectors and riverkeepers in Labrador have been criminalized (and some, including Elders, jailed in maximum security penitentiaries) for peaceful acts of resistance and sacred ceremonies on traditional lands.

“All calls for accountability, transparency, and respect have been ignored as this megaproject proceeds full speed ahead, doubling in a cost (now $12.7 billion) that will be borne by our province’s poorest residents and next generations” the Land Protectors state.

“All possible political channels have been exhausted, from meetings with bureaucrats and Ministers to years of lobbying, petitioning, demonstrating, and civil disobedience in Labrador. Still the federal and provincial governments refuse to seek and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of all of us affected downstream.”

Since 1970, Indigenous people have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression that Native people continue to experience.

Marjorie Flowers’ speaking tour is sponsored by the North American Megadams Resistance Alliance (NAMRA), which opposes imports of hydroelectricity from large dams – like Muskrat Falls – that have caused irreversible harm to ecosystems and to Indigenous communities. The States of Vermont, Massachussetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, are connected to the expansion of hydroelectric development on Indigenous lands through imports of electricity from Hydro Quebec, according to NAMRA.   (Electricity from Hydro Quebec includes energy generated in Labrador on the Churchill River.)

Alliance Calls for Rejection of Hydropower Imports from Canada at the 42nd Annual Conference of New England Governors  Eastern Canadian Premiers Conference in Stowe, Vermont

On August 1213, 2018, during the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, in Stowe, Vermont, the North American Megadams Resistance Alliance (NAMRA), an international network of environmental and social justice groups, will participate in events to address the cross border issues of transmission corridors and electricity produced by megadams in Canada.

The NAMRA mission is to block transmission corridors and contracts to import hydroelectric power produced by mega dams in Canada, such as Muskrat Falls, which are causing irreversible harm to ecosystems and to communities. These mega dam systems are no longer permitted to be built in the United States.

Northeast states can meet all decarbonization and greenhouse gas reduction targets by expanding renewable energy, efficiency and conservation initiatives, while promoting local economies and creating jobs, NAMRA states.

NAMRA is opposed to the construction of new long-distance transmission corridors for the export of hydropower from Quebec and Labrador into the United States. Proposed corridors include the Atlantic Link, New England Clean Energy Connect, Champlain Hudson Power Express, New England Clean Power Link, Vermont Green Line, and the Northern Pass.

NAMRA supports the efforts of the Labrador Land Protectors and Grand Riverkeeper, Labrador, to halt the construction of the $13 billion Muskrat Falls hydroelectric complex. For decades, First Nations, Metis and settlers, living in the Happy Valley/ Goose Bay region of Labrador, have been ignored in a process that has allowed the Muskrat Falls construction to proceed, despite the certainty of methylmercury poisoning the food chain, the destruction of a way of life, and the daily threat of a dam collapse due to quick clay liquefaction.

“It is time to stop destroying rivers everywhere,” said Tom Ellis of the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, in Albany, New York. “The Solidarity Committee opposed the Great Whale hydroelectric project 25 years ago and we have opposed the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission corridor since it was proposed in 2010.”

The Sierra Club Maine Chapter, a member of NAMRA, is opposing the Maine Central Power’s proposed New England Clean Power Link transmission corridor, which would require clearing a large, currently undisturbed swath of Maine’s North Woods. While failing to reduce climate changing pollution, threatening wildlife, and disturbing pristine forests, the project would jeopardize existing and future renewable energy development in the region.

“We should be using electricity that is carbon-emission free and fully renewable, and these mega dam projects are neither,” says NAMRA member Steve Crowley, Energy Chair of the Vermont Sierra Club. “Beyond this, when you consider poisoning the fish, and the people who consume them, with methyl mercury, and disrupting the lives of Indigenous communities, there’s no way this is the right thing to do. By using this mega dam power, we are directly responsible for impacts that would be completely intolerable if they were here in our backyard. We don’t need to import electricity produced by destructive mega dams 1,000 or more miles away. ”

“We ask the citizens of northeastern states to pay attention to the struggle underway in Labrador over Muskrat Falls. Hydro-electricity from large dams is neither clean nor green. Our energy policies must be based on respect for social justice and human rights. Large dams destroy forests and wetlands, contributing significantly to climate change and biodiversity loss,” stated Rachel Smolker, a Vermont member of the Alliance.

“Making it Real: A Forum on Energy and Climate” will be on Sunday August 12, at 5-7 pm, at the Waterbury United Church of Christ, 8 North Main Street (at the top of Bank Hill), in Waterbury, Vermont.

“Rally for Real Climate Solutions: No Pipelines. Nukes, or Megadams” will take place on Monday August 13, at 2:30 pm, in front of the Stowe Mountain Lodge, 7412 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont. The press conference will begin at 5 pm, at the same location.

The Northeast MegaDam Resistance  Supports Nonviolent Land Protectors against the Muskrat Falls Megaproject

May 7, 2018. The Northeast MegaDam Resistance Coalition, in solidarity with the communities living downstream of the Muskrat Falls mega project under construction in Labrador, supports the nonviolent Land Protectors participating today in a national day of nonviolent direct action, organized by the Ontario-Muskrat Solidarity Coalition on Parliament Hill in Ottawa – which is unceded Algonquin territory.

 Since 2011, Indigenous people and settlers living in the Happy Valley/ Goose Bay region of Labrador, which is unceded Innu and Inuit land, have been excluded from a process that has allowed the Muskrat Falls mega dam construction to proceed, despite their grave concerns about methylmercury poisoning of their traditional food web and the daily threat of dam collapse.

Labrador Land Protectors state: “Our fears are real; some of us go to sleep at night with life preservers under our beds. We live the despair of knowing our way of life that has existed for generations is being threatened. Justin Trudeau recently apologized for a past act of Labrador cultural genocide, yet his government supports this impending act of cultural genocide with a $9.2 billion federal investment.”

 Much of the fight against the Muskrat Falls dam has taken place with very little media attention here in the United States. Members of the Labrador Land Protectors, https://www.facebook.com/labradorlandprotectors/ and, the Grand Riverkeeper Labrador http://www.grandriverkeeperlabrador.ca/ , along with supporters and residents in Labrador have been criminalized (and some, including Elders, jailed in maximum security penitentiaries) for peaceful acts of resistance and sacred ceremonies on traditional lands. 

“All calls for accountability, transparency, and respect have been ignored as this megaproject proceeds full speed ahead, doubling in a cost (now $12.7 billion) that will be borne by our province’s poorest residents and next generations. All possible political channels have been exhausted, from meetings with bureaucrats and Ministers to years of lobbying, petitioning, demonstrating, and civil disobedience in Labrador. Still the federal and provincial governments refuse to seek and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of all of us affected downstream,” said the Labrador Land Protectors

 The mission of the Northeast Megadams Resistance Coalition is to block imports of hydroelectricity produced by mega dams, such as Muskrat Falls, which are causing irreversible harm to ecosystems and to Indigenous communities. We recognize our responsibility as citizens of the States of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, which, have been complicit in promoting the expansion of mega dams on Indigenous lands, by negotiating for contracts to import electricity from Hydro Quebec and Nalcor Energy in Labrador.

 The proposed new transmission corridors– Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect, the Northern Pass into New Hampshire, the New England Clean Power Link into Vermont, and the Champlain Hudson Power Express into New York– if built, would deliver hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador to the region. This will certainly incentivize new mega dam construction on Indigenous lands.

 “We ask the citizens of northeastern states to pay attention to the struggle underway in Labrador over Muskrat Falls. Hydroelectricity from large dams is neither clean nor green. Our energy policies must be based on respect for social justice and human rights. Large dams destroy forests and wetlands, contributing significantly to climate change and biodiversity loss,” stated Alexis Lathem, a Vermont member of the Coalition.

 “We should be using electricity that is carbon-emission free and fully renewable, and these mega dam projects are neither,” says Coalition member Steve Crowley, Energy Chair of the Vermont Sierra Club.  “The only way to consider these projects renewable is to completely ignore the elimination of that vast forest resource that is not growing back on any schedule.  Beyond this, when you consider poisoning the fish, and the people who consume them, with methyl mercury, and disrupting the lives of Indigenous communities, there’s no way this is the right thing to do.  By using this mega dam power, we are directly responsible for impacts that would be completely intolerable if they were here in our backyard.”

 The northeast States must expand and promote local renewable energy and energy efficiency programs to achieve long-term energy sustainability. We don’t need to import electricity produced by destructive mega dams 1,000 or more miles away.