The days of Canadian megadams are over: testimony to the USITC shows they are a human, environmental and economic disaster. 

In the words of Senator McCallum: “it is my sincere hope that you will uphold the spirit and intent of environmental justice and acknowledge the true impacts of mega-dam projects here in Canada before you invest money and resources in exporting it for US consumption, thereby further exploiting many of Canada’s most vulnerable people.”

This is NAMRA’s Final Statement to the ITC:

We have ten years to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. In the words of U.N. General Assembly President Garces of Ecuador “we are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet” and must act for future generations guided by principles of climate justice. Continued Canadian hydropower development perpetuates colonialism and injustice forcing Indigenous and local communities to suffer the negative impacts of energy production that does not deliver the benefits promised. 

Rivers are essential sources of environmental health, economic wealth and human well- being” and river connectivity extends in four dimensions: longitudinally, laterally, vertically and temporally.1 The Canadian Government’s myopic view is that rivers are merely “hydroelectricity capacity” with “only” 40 percent developed, an additional four gigawatts currently under construction and with 60% remaining available to be exploited for profits and disguised as clean energy. Canada’s hydropower energy policy is a death knell for rivers, communities and the planet. It is a shameful example of what 21st century renewable energy is not. Canadian hydropower does not deliver promised economic benefits to its own citizens as the financially disastrous Site C, Keeyask and Muskrat Falls demonstrate and in fact harms communities. 

Canadian’s regulatory review process for hydropower development is a sham. Projects are routinely exempted from review. When review does occur, it fails to meet basic standards for accountability as documented at Site C and Muskrat Falls. U.S. regulators do not undertake their own independent review of the impacts of this hydropower production allowing projects to be segmented, thereby escaping scrutiny under U.S. environmental protection laws. U.S. hydropower energy policy is outdated and at odds with climate science and international principles of equity and justice. 

NAMRA urges the ITC to review all aspects of the impacts of Canadian hydroelectricity imports and recommend: 

  1. Bilateral renegotiation of the 2018 side letter to the USMCA/CUSMA on energy matters to replace the current flawed definition “renewable energy” on hydropower; 
  2. A carbon accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of existing and proposed Canadian hydropower imports; 
  3. A directive to end all greenwashing of existing and proposed Canadian hydroelectricity imports; 
  4. A bilateral truth and reconciliation process to redress past and present harms to Indigenous people caused by Canada’s hydropower development and the U.S. consumption of that hydropower; and 
  5. A recommendation that Massachusetts incorporates principles of climate justice, equity, and inclusion into its energy policy for Canadian hydroelectricity imports.
Photo from 2019 Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA.