Press Release Multi-State Speaking Tour November 13, 2017

PRESS RELEASE-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 13, 2017

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GROUPS LAUNCH NORTHEAST TOUR

CHALLENGING CANADIAN HYDRO POWER

An international network of about fifteen environmental and social justice groups announced the start of a multi-state speaking tour featuring Roberta Benefiel, Director of the Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Inc. and Amy Norman of Labrador Land Protectors. The MegaDams, MegaDamage tour aims to raise awareness about the negative cultural, environmental and financial impacts of hydroelectric power generated by megadams in Canada. Public events will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Subsidized Canadian power companies are targeting new markets in the U.S. Multinational corporations propose a network of transmission corridors in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York to deliver the power hundreds of miles from remote areas of Canada. The transmission corridors are at various stages of permitting and 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 through New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. State laws and programs classify electricity from these megadams as “clean” and say it helps stop climate change. The opposition groups say this is a myth.

Over the past several decades, Canada’s electricity companies have dammed all but three of the country’s largest rivers. The MegaDams, MegaDamage tour will focus on Nalcor Corporation’s Muskrat Falls dam in Labrador, one of two proposed impoundment projects on the Grand River also known as the Churchill River. The second proposed dam on the Grand River is called Gull Island. The Muskrat Falls project (also known as the Lower Churchill project) is currently under construction.

Long standing opposition to Canadian megadams intensified at Muskrat Falls in 2016. Just before flooding for the dam began, protesters went on hunger strikes and others were jailed for entering the construction site and shutting it down for 5 days. Resistance is ongoing.

The Muskrat Falls megadam threatens all Labradorians, but it is particularly harmful to the livelihood, well being, and even the lives of the Indigenous peoples of Labrador – the Innu, Inuit and Metis. Megadams flood huge swaths of boreal forest, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and destroy aquatic ecosystems. The flooding releases methyl-mercury, a neurotoxin, which bio-accumulates up the food chain contaminating lake trout, salmon, smelt, and seal, all considered extremely important food sources for northern communities.

“We want to stop the Muskrat Falls mega-dam,” said Ms. Benefiel, “and make sure the Gull Island dam on this same river never sees the light of day. Politicians and policy makers on both sides of the border should pursue energy alternatives that provide long lasting local jobs with the least possible harm to our rivers, food sources and way of life, and that will not burden future generations with billions of dollars in costs. We are joining U.S. based public interest groups to raise awareness that state laws and programs incentivizing and promoting destructive Canadian hydropower as “clean” is not acceptable. The U.S. states can meet greenhouse gas emissions targets while helping the local economy, not huge multinational corporations,” Ms. Benefiel added.

Amy Norman, a young Inuk woman and activist with Labrador Land Protectors will join part of the tour. Ms. Norman is a member of Nunatsiavut, the Innu self-government of Labrador and has family ties to the North West River and Nain. She will speak at the 48th National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day, an event organized by the United American Indians of New England.

“Muskrat Falls threatens our very existence as Inuit,” said Ms. Norman. “It is poisoning our food webs, and contaminating the country foods we depend on, both physically and spiritually. It is forcing us to cut ties with the land. To continue this project knowing the damage it will cause is cultural genocide,” Ms. Norman stated.

Groups supporting the tour include:

Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Inc., Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada
Labrador Land Protectors
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, New York City
Save the Pine Bush, Albany NY
Friends of the Hudson
New Community Project, Vermont
Vermont Climate Union
Antioch New England, Keene NH
Mariposa Museum, Peterborough, NH
Citizens Climate Lobby, Monadnock Chapter
New Hampshire Sierra Club Upper Valley Group (NH, VT)
United American Indians of New England
Vermont Chapter, Sierra Club

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The Muskrat Falls megadam threatens all Labradorians, but it is particularly harmful to the livelihood, well being, and even the lives of the Indigenous peoples of Labrador – the Innu, Inuit and Metis. For more information, reports and articles, refer to the Links page on this website.

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