Government Inquiry on Muskrat Falls Project

In response to public pressure over the many project failures arising from Nalcor Energy’s construction of the massive Muskrat Falls megadam on the Churchill River, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador established the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Muskrat Falls project on November 20, 2017, in accordance with Part I of the Public Inquiries Act, 2006. Justice Richard LeBlanc was appointed Commissioner. The Government maintains a website on the Inquiry and testimony is broadcast live. www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca

The Grand Riverkeeper and Labrador Land Protectors played a pivotal role in urging the Government to establish the Inquiry, collecting over 1,000 signatures in the small community of Happy-Valley Goose Bay and surrounding areas.

The Inquiry is charged with looking into these topics relating to mismanagement and cost overruns. The list of topics is:

  • The consideration by Nalcor Energy of options to address the electricity needs of Newfoundland and Labrador’s island interconnected system customers that informed Nalcor’s decision to recommend that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador sanction, or approve, the Muskrat Falls Project.
  • Why there are significant differences between the estimated costs of the Project at the time of approval in and the costs incurred by Nalcor during Project execution (the current cost in 2019 is over $12 billion);
  • Whether the determination that the Project should be exempt from oversight by the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities was justified and reasonable and what was the effect of this exemption, if any, on the development, costs and operation of the Project; and
  • Whether the Government was fully informed and was made aware of any risks or problems anticipated with the Project, so that it had sufficient and accurate information upon which to appropriately decide to sanction the Project and whether it employed appropriate measures to oversee the Project, focusing on governance arrangements and decision-making processes associated with the Project.

The final report of the Inquiry is due to be delivered to the Minister of Natural Resources on or before December 31, 2019.

There has been widespread media coverage of the Inquiry in Canada. Of particular interest is the involvement of the multinational corporation SNC Lavilin that has been penalized for bribing government officials on other of its megaprojects.

Labrador Land Protectors and Aboriginal elders have testified at the Inquiry about the negative impact of the megadam on their lives, economy, and lands. The Grand Riverkeeper Labrador has testified about harm to the Grand River and methylmercury poisoning.

A 2019 Telegraph article can be viewed here.

Activists testify at the Commission of Inquiry on the Muskrat Falls Project, February 2019

February 19, 2019 – NAMRA’s Press Release on the Inquiry

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

Inuit Marjorie Flowers and Grand Riverkeeper Roberta Benefiel opposing 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 Inuk 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.”

Inquiry Webcast: www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca/

Grand Riverkeeper www.grandriverkeeperlabrador.ca

Labrador Land Protectors on Facebook

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