Pages: Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2001.
2000: Jan.-May, June-July, Aug.- Oct., Nov.-Dec.. 1999
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2002.
2001. 2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.-Dec.. 1999



power lines

Hydroelectric dams destroying
Manitoba Cree rivers

--- --------------------------------------------------

Updates: 2001


Pages Contents:  

Jan. 2
Jan. 22
Jan. 23

$6 billion on the line
Remarks by Tommy Monias, Secretary to the Four Councils
Hydro facing $100-M lawsuit
Apr. 23 Shareholders Challenge Xcel over Human Rights / Enviro Wrongs
Mutual adversary produces alliance Cross Lake ...
Apr. 24

Bush Wants Our Power
US newspaper ad blames Hydro for abusing native band

Apr. 25 Manitoba Hydro destroying environment: U.S. activists.
Cross Lake Rising all
Cree Indians and American Shareholders Score Victory
Cree Nation claims victory in Hydro fight
Shareholders Challenge Company Xcel Energy
Apr. 30 Xcel Energy won't end Manitoba deal
Hydro smeared by power play at Xcel meeting First nations, environmentalists team up
May 7 Hydro plans should include environmental concerns
May 21 Minnesota State Legislature Passes Energy Bill
May 23 Manitoba Hydro unfazed by Minnesota energy bill

 

 

 

 

 

Remarks by Tommy Monias, Secretary to the Four Councils
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Cross Lake, Manitoba



January 22, 2001

About thirty years ago, Manitoba Hydro came into the traditional lands of Pimicikamak Cree Nation, and began to construct a hydroelectric megaproject. The last twenty-five years have been an ongoing environmental and social nightmare for our people. Our entire environment has been turned on its head, our economies and means of subsistence have been destroyed, and our people have been left to fend for themselves.

We experience droughts and floods, water level fluctuations, mass poverty and unemployment, and environmental and social conditions that are catastrophic. In the last two years, the hopelesness and despair among our people reached a peak, and over two hundred of our people have tried to take their lives. Eight of our people, young and old, have succeeded.

One factor has greatly added to our despair. Manitoba Hydro has spent much of the last two decades minimizing and denying that its project has been the cause of any serious environmental or social impacts or, more recently, admitting the impacts but claiming it has fixed them.

Truly independent authorities describe these things more accurately than Manitoba Hydro. For example, in 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which had a Canadian Supreme Court judge as a Commissioner, described our sitaution in these words:

"The Churchill Nelson Rivers Diversion Project has subsequently become well known for its massive scale and detrimental effects on the northern Manitoba environment and the Aboriginal peoples who live there. Although the project directly affected the lands and livelihood of five treaty communities, and one non-treaty community, they were not consulted, nor did they give approval for the undertaking. Reserve and community lands were either flooded or affected by dramatic changes to levels in surrounding lakes and rivers, and traditional land-use areas were damaged or rendered inaccessible."

In 1982, Mr. Justice Ferg put things more bluntly in a judgment about the effects of the project. He stated that without a doubt, the project had turned our Pimicikamak environment on its head.

In the last two years, our people have woken from this nightmare. We have discussed our situation, and have resolved that we will no longer be beaten up in silence. We now know that we have Aboriginal rights, treaty rights, constitutional rights, and other fundamental human rights. We have begun to assert them.

We know the truth about Manitoba Hydro's project, because we live in the center of it. We have decided to tell this truth, in Winnipeg, in Minnesota, in Wisconsin, and at the United Nations.

This morning, on January 22, 2001, Pimicikamak Cree Nation took a further step in telling the truth. On the instructions of the four Councils of PCN, our legal counsel filed a case against Manitoba Hydro under the Northern Flood Agreement Arbitration section. Our case concerns the adverse impacts of Manitoba Hydro's megaproject on our water.

This project is one of the largest hydroelectric developments in North America. Manitoba Hydro drastically modified the river flows and flooded the shorelines upstream of our lands. These lands consist of erodable soils covered by organic material. Manitoba Hydro's project continually causes thousands of tons of soils, decaying vegetation and other organic materials, together with animal carcasses, parasites, bacteria, viruses and other pollutants, to enter Cross Lake. As a result, large quantities of the pollutants are continuously drawn into our community's domestic water supply system.

We now know that chlorination reacts chemically with many of the pollutants. These reactions form toxic substances that can cause cancer, mutation and miscarriage. By reason of the high levels of organics in the river water, these harmful substances are formed in much higher concentrations than would normally occur in a domestic water supply.

Our people have lost faith in the quality and healthful nature of the water. It makes our people physically and spiritually sick.

Before Manitoba Hydro built its megaproject, we had stable shorelines, clean water, and all of the benefits and blessings that these things brought. Our people could use water in confidence that it gave us life and health, in our community and living on the land. Now, in the words of the 1999 Canadian Inter-Church Inquiry into Northern Hydro Development, we live with "an ecological and moral catastrophe," with filthy, contaminated, unhealthy water in which our people can have no faith.

We have waited and hoped that Manitoba Hydro would take active steps to restore the environment and help put our people into a position no worse than before it built its project. This is what it promised to do in the Northern Flood Agreement in 1977. This has never been done.

When water catastrophes occur in non-Aboriginal communities in Manitoba or other provinces, everybody understands and the responsible parties act quickly. Not so with Manitoba Hydro and the Nelson River.

With this claim, we are saying enough is enough.



DJ Native Canadian Group Files Suit Against Manitoba Hydro

Copyright � 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


CALGARY (Dow Jones)-- The Pimicikamak Cree First Nation filed a $100 million claim against Manitoba Hydro Monday for damages inflicted on its community by the utility's massive Churchill-Nelson Rivers hydro project.

The suit was filed with the Northern Flood Agreement Treaty arbitrator in Winnipeg days after Manitoba Hydro filed a statement of claim against the native Canadian group for defaulting on $1.2 million in bill payments.

The Cree community, formerly the Cross Lake Cree, is the last of five groups to reach a settlement with Manitoba Hydro under the Northern Flood Agreement Treaty of 1977. It has been lobbying across North America since 1998 after negotiations with Manitoba Hydro fell.

"The claim has been sitting around for quite a while and we decided to do something about it now," said Tommy Monias, secretary to the Pimicikamak Four Councils. "We are trying to move forward to a place where we should have been 23 years ago."

Discussions between Manitoba Hydro and the 5,000-member First Nation hit a standstill in November after disagreements on how to assess the hydro project's effect on water quality and lifestyle could not be breached.

The Pimicikamak say the Nelson River project has had devastating social and environmental effects on the fishing community by contaminating its water supply through erosion from the Nelson River system.

They have refused to pay Manitoba Hydro directly for electricity services since 1998, instead paying into a trust fund toward future compensation.

Manitoba Hydro public affairs manager Glenn Schneider said negotiations with the community have been very difficult since a new council was elected two years ago. The utility has paid $220 million in compensation for land and damages since 1977, Schneider said.

This latest dispute is in response to Manitoba Hydro's lawsuit, he said.

"We expect the community leadership to respect the laws of Canada.

"We could disconnect the whole community but there are people that do pay their bills in Cross Lake and we do not want to penalize them," he said.


-By Dina O'Meara, Dow Jones Newswires; 403-531-2912
mailto:dina.omeara@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires 23-01-01

 

 

 

 

Hydro facing $100-M lawsuit
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Northern band claims water contaminated



By Alexandra Paul
Winnipeg Free Press
January 23, 2001


THE Pimicikamak Cree Nation launched a $100 million lawsuit against Manitoba Hydro yesterday that was timed to counter a $1.2 million lawsuit Hydro filed last week against the first nation over mounting electricity bills.

The latest legal action raises the ante in the litigious relations between Pimicikamak, formerly known as Cross Lake, and the Crown utility that built the Nelson River hydroelectric dam.

The hydroelectric development has been soundly criticized in government studies for destroying the northern Cree traditional way of life.

Eight people have committed suicide and another 200 have tried to take their lives in the last two years, Tommy Monias, secretary to the four councils of the Pimicikamak's traditional government, said as an illustration of the despair in the community.

Ecological catastrophe

This time the issue is safe drinking water, reporters were told at a Winnipeg news conference on the case.

"In the words of the 1999 Inter-Church Inquiry into Northern Flooding, we live with an ecological catastrophe, with filthy, contaminated, unhealthy water in which our people have no faith," Monias said.

The community of about 5,500 draws drinking water from the Nelson River and its treatment plant uses double the normal amount of chlorine to clean it.

Northerners believe there is a double standard at work after seeing the quick action that's taken when water quality is tainted in non-aboriginal communities.

The Pimicikamak claim asks the arbitrator to make an interim award on the electricity bills issue before considering the water quality complaint.

The claim notes Pimicikamak set up a trust fund to collect hydro bill payments after residents and businesses refused to pay the bills in protest over failure of parts of the Northern Flood Agreement. The agreement compensates northern bands adversely affected by hydroelectric projects.

Dispute

A total of $2 million has been collected in the trust fund held by the Pimicikamak First Nation, but that money had not been turned over to Manitoba Hydro when the utility filed its $1.2 million lawsuit.

The claim notes that Pimicikamak believes the dispute over electricity bills is affecting its fiscal housing funds from Indian Affairs.

"Indian Affairs, has apparently at the request of (Hydro) withheld a ministerial guarantee for CLFN's housing program for 2000-2001, thereby halting construction of desperately needed houses."

Pimicikamak lawyer Colin Gillespie said that sending the hydro bill dispute to the arbitrator is intended to compel Hydro to accept the trust fund as payment and to get action on drinking-water quality.

 

 

 

$6 billion on the line
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Note: all figs in Canadian dollars, regards, Ann

 



editorial
Winnipeg Free Press
February 2, 2001


LIBERAL Leader Jon Gerrard usefully has staked some ground on the vast territory that is the future of hydro in Manitoba, territory that politicians, especially in the Doer government, continue to refuse to explore, at least, in public.

Mr. Gerrard says he believes Manitoba Hydro should purchase Winnipeg Hydro, which he optimistically values at $600 million, for the purpose of creating a single, more efficient utility while improving the city's bottom line. His declaration at least drew comment from a "spokesman" for Finance Minister Greg Selinger to the effect that the idea "is worth consideration."

It is worth a lot more than that. There are currently before Manitoba at least $6 billion worth of electricity projects that must be addressed soon so that Manitobans, who own the utilities, can determine how best to use the opportunity that the worsening energy shortage in the U.S. has created.

Continued government silence is unconscionable given the scope of the issue. Manitoba Hydro, for example, has three hydroelectric generating stations in development, the combined construction cost of which is about $3 billion. The largest of the three is the Gull Rapids plant on the Nelson River. It is projected to cost about $2 billion to build and would generate 600 megawatts of electricity, which is 100 megawatts more than the 500 megawatts Hydro currently exports to Minnesota to produce the robust profits the utility reports. The other two stations in development are Wuskwatim and Notigi on the Burntwood River. The 100-megawatt Notigi has a projected construction cost of $350 million, while Wuskwatim has a projected cost of $580 million. Wuskwatim was originally envisioned as a 350-megawatt plant, but it has been scaled back to 200 as the result of talks with the Nelson House band, which had concerns about flooding. Nelson House has been offered an unprecedented equity position in both Wuskwatim and Notigi. The rationale for the offer has never been fully explained by the Doer government, nor has it been explained how it is that the band might become a player in two projects worth $850 million. Split Lake band has been offered an equity position in the $2 billion Gull Rapids project.

Construction of Gull Rapids would likely result in the construction of another transmission line from the North. Hydro wants to run the line through virgin territory east of Lake Winnipeg to ensure that freak weather occurrences, such as the hurricane-force winds that knocked out its lines west of the lake in 1997, cannot again threaten the entire system. When the line was last raised in 1990, its cost was pegged at $1.9 billion. It was expected to spark a huge environmental debate.

Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro expects a $160 million gas-fired plant it launched with little fanfare in Brandon will be operational in two years. An additional $59 million is promised to refit a coal plant in Selkirk, which was to have been mothballed.

All of these developments are being pursued on the presumption that Manitoba should be exporting more electricity to the energy-starved American market. Given slow growth here, it will be decades before Manitoba has need of the generating capacity under consideration. The theory is that export sales could finance the construction costs so that the stations would be paid off with U.S. dollars when Manitobans finally need the electricity.

Hydro has started offering loans of up to $5,000 to homeowners to insulate themselves from soaring natural gas prices available from Centra Gas, which Hydro purchased three years ago for $486 million.

Talks continue between Manitoba Hydro and Winnipeg Hydro about the agreement under which Manitoba Hydro supplies Winnipeg Hydro with most of the electricity it sells. It was recently reported that Winnipeg Hydro's profit could be cut from about $20 million a year to $8 million under a new deal, which would leave a crater in the city's budget.

Premier Gary Doer, Manitobans deserve to have these issues examined in public now.

 


Shareholders Challenge Xcel Energy over
-------------------------------------
Human Rights and Environmental Wrongs



Media Contacts:
Michael Passoff, (415) 291-9868, As You Sow Foundation.
Ann Stewart, (612) 871-8404, US Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation
(Arrangements can be made to speak with John Miswagon, Chief, Pimicikamak Cree Nation)

Shareholder Resolution and a Full Page NY Times Ad call for:
Increasing renewable energy;
Avoiding future contracts with Manitoba Hydro

San Francisco, CA -- Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) shareholders will vote April 25th on a resolution asking the company to increase its power supply from renewable resources that do not have undue adverse impacts on human rights and the environment.

A full-page ad in today's New York Times business section states "Tell Xcel Energy that you don't want a short term investment based on long-term loss - Investing in Manitoba Hydro's environmental destruction and human rights abuses is just bad business."

Xcel currently gets only 4% of its energy from Manitoba Hydro, yet international criticism over the devastating ecological social impacts of Manitoba Hydro projects has tainted Xcel as a company complicit in environmental racism.

Manitoba Hydro signed the Northern Flood Agreement Treaty in 1977 promising environmental and socioeconomic mitigation to indigenous peoples throughout its vast project area. Manitoba Hydro has honored "few, if any," of its obligations, according to a recent Canadian federal inquiry.

"The Pimicikamak Cree Nation lives at the epicenter of this ongoing catastrophe," said Andrew Orkin, a Canadian environmental and human rights lawyer. "Twenty four years of massive hydro development has devastated the tribe's territory and once-thriving economy. The results are mass poverty, 85% unemployment, hopelessness, despair, and a youth suicide epidemic with rates that experts term astronomical."

As Manitoba Hydro's largest customer, Xcel has been sharply criticized by political and religious leaders, human rights and environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the World Council of Churches, the media and consumers for its role in contributing to the destruction of indigenous communities.

A Canadian interfaith inquiry declared that the situation faced by Pimicikamak Cree Nation and other indigenous peoples is "a moral and ecological catastrophe." Public concern has led to repeated scrutiny by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the filing of Minnesota state legislation.

Speaking at Wednesday's Xcel shareholder meeting will be Pimicikamak Chief John Miswagon. "Manitoba Hydro now faces over 100 lawsuits about adverse effects on our environment and way of life," said Chief John Miswagon, "such as this year's $100-million-dollar lawsuit concerning Manitoba Hydro's contamination of community water supplies."

The shareholder resolution calls on Xcel Energy to obtain more renewable energy - which shareholders believe will solve two problems at once. Pending legislation in the Minnesota State House will oblige Xcel to obtain 10% of its electricity mix from renewable sources by 2015. Currently, less than 2% of Xcel's energy qualifies as renewable under definitions proposed in Minnesota and adopted in other states. Manitoba Hydro's electricity fails this definition.

"Increasing renewable energy sources will meet new government regulations, allow for greater market flexibility, improve shareholder value, and reduce the growing threat to Xcel's reputation as a result of its purchasing energy from Manitoba Hydro", said Michael Passoff of the San Francisco based As You Sow Foundation.

The resolution proponents point out that Xcel's new 12-state service territory contains the best wind energy potential in North America, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Numerous studies conclude that wind in the upper Midwest is cost-competitive with traditional fossil-fuel generation and hydro imports. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reports that wind "is the fastest growing energy production method in the world, renewable or otherwise, having a overall growth rate in 1999 of 36%."

"It is increasingly important for Xcel to be in the forefront of sustainable energy," said Passoff, "both as a means to capitalize on the fastest growing segment of the energy industry and to meet new governmental standards."

As a shareholder representative, As You Sow has called top investors and mailed information to over 3000 Xcel shareholders soliciting support of the resolution. "Many investors realize," said Passoff, "that Manitoba Hydro is a small amount of Xcel's purchases, but the impact upon its corporate reputation is enormous."

 

Unlikely alliance against Manitoba dams and powerline....

 

Mutual adversary produces alliance-------------------------------------
Cross Lake joins Hydro fight in ESP



by Brendan O'Hallarn, Legislative Reporter
Winnipeg Sun, April 23, 2001


Residents of East St. Paul fighting a planned expansion of high-voltage towers near their homes have received support from an unlikely ally -- the Pimicka Cree Nation.

The First Nation from Cross Lake has been locked in a dispute with Manitoba Hydro since the 1970s after their land was flooded for a hydro project on the Churchill River.

After contacting the East St. Paul residents last week, PCN officials have offered to help fight the latest Hydro proposal.

"It's uncanny, some of the similarities between our situation and theirs," said lawyer Mike Wasylin, whose home on Terrance Place backs onto the land where the proposed hydro towers would be constructed. "Basically, it comes down to the arrogance of Hydro. (Cross Lake officials) warned us that they'll say and do anything to get their way."

TURNED DOWN SETTLEMENT

Cross Lake is the last of five First Nations awaiting compensation from 1977's Northern Flood Agreement. The other four bands settled with Hydro, but Cross Lake turned down a $100-million settlement after a new chief and council were elected.

Cross Lake is 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

East St. Paul residents worry about a plan to erect a high-voltage transmission line in a corridor near their homes already containing two large power lines.

Some studies have linked electric and magnetic fields, which exist around power lines, with increased incidences of cancer, particularly in children.

Three of four days in the Manitoba Legislature last week, Springfield MLA Ron Schuler asked Hydro Minister Greg Selinger to meet with area residents.

SEEKING INJUNCTION

Selinger said the balance of the research on EMFs have dispelled the cancer risk. Selinger said an arm's length environmental commission signed off on Hydro's plans after reviewing the most current research.

But residents aren't convinced, and are collecting money for a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the construction until all alternatives are assessed.

Wasylin, an attorney in Beausejour, is acting for the community.

He said residents who met with the Cross Lake group came away with a better understanding of their northern neighbours, and a new respect for the fight they've endured.

"The irony isn't lost on either of us," he said.

"It's an unlikely pairing, but in times like these, you find out who your friends are. We're grateful for their support."

 

 

 


BUSH WANTS OUR POWER
-------------------------------------
U.S. president hopes Manitoba can solve electricity shortage


by Paul Samyn
Winnipeg Free Press
April 24, 2001


OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien and U.S. President George W. Bush have added fuel to Manitoba's push for a new economic future built on hydroelectricity exports. The two leaders discussed northern Manitoba's power potential during talks at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City on the weekend where they agreed, along with Mexican President Vicente Fox, to set up a North American Energy Working Group.

Bush made it clear his country is desperate for power. "If Canadian and Mexican suppliers of energy and electricity are looking for a market, they've found one in the United States," Bush said. "We're short of energy."

Premier Gary Doer said Chretien helped make Bush aware that Manitoba is positioned to help meet U.S. energy needs. "It is extremely good news for Manitoba," Doer said yesterday in an interview from Dauphin. "I certainly think this gives us a huge opportunity."

The premier said it is too early to talk about the potential economic impacts of a new hydro megaproject and increased export revenues, but he added the province is receiving as much as $400 million a year from its current power sale to Minnesota.

American power shortages that saw blackouts in California last winter, along with growing environmental pressure for climate-friendly energy sources, could open the door to hydro doing for Manitoba what oil and natural gas have done for Alberta.

And as one provincial official put it yesterday, hydroelectricity, unlike Alberta's oil, is a renewable resource.

"Their tar sands will be exhausted in 25 years, but we are sitting on a potential long-term source of energy that will be good for the province," the official said. "We will not have the same boom as seen in Alberta, but we will not have the bust, either."

One stumbling block for Manitoba's hydro exports to the United States is a complicated and confusing transmission grid, which would require massive investments for the province to send electricity to new customers.

Doer said Manitoba is prepared to build another megadam that will create significant benefits for the province's natives, but the province will only proceed with a possible resurrection of the $6-billion Conawapa dam project if it has confirmed sales to either neighbouring provinces or U.S. customers.

Chretien echoed that view as the summit wrapped up, saying that Manitoba cannot afford to gamble with a massive infrastructure project without U.S. commitments to both buy the power and build a transmission system to receive it.

The giant Conawapa dam proposed for the Nelson River was mothballed in 1991 when Ontario cancelled a contract for 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

Doer's campaign to increase Manitoba's hydro capacity has already seen him lobby Chretien on the issue during the recent Team Canada mission to China. Finance Minister Greg Selinger has also sent a letter to federal Energy Minister Ralph Goodale asking for support for the construction of a power grid that would move electricity not only east-west but also north-south.

Goodale's office has not yet responded to Manitoba's letter. John Embury, a spokesman for Goodale, said it is too early to say what help Ottawa may offer to Manitoba. "But it's great the provincial government is identifying opportunities," Embury said.

Doer will also travel to Idaho in August for a meeting of governors of western U.S. states to help market Manitoba's hydroelectricity. There is a chance U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, who is helping to handle the energy issue for Bush, will attend.

Manitoba's demand for federal assistance in building the infrastructure needed to export electricity will note that Ottawa helped Alberta reach its energy potential through tax incentives for oil exploration. "We have never received similar concessions in Manitoba," the provincial official said.

While Manitoba is aggressively eyeing the U.S. market, its hydro development plans are mindful of the province's own needs as well as those of Canadian provinces.

Doer is also keen to ensure Manitoba doesn't become a modern-day version of Canada's past as a hewer of wood and drawer of water. Doer said he wants to use Manitoba's hydro resources to attract economic development to the province, especially the potential that hydrogen fuel cells present. "We want to make sure the resource is used for our long-term advantage," he said.

 

 

US newspaper ad blames Hydro for abusing native band
-------------------------------------



Helen Fallding
Winnipeg Free Press
April 24, 2001


A full-page ad in the New York Times yesterday accused Manitoba Hydro of cold-hearted abuse of human rights and ravaging ecosystems.

Paid for by an anonymous donor, the ad asks shareholders of Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy to vote tomorrow to get power supplies from alternative sources that do no harm to indigenous pepole, including the Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Cross Lake.

The first nation has a $100-million lawsuit against Manitoba Hydro after years of fighting over implementation of the Northern Flood Agreement.

Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said this is the first time a US newspaper ad has been used in the dispute, which has played out south of the border through environmental organizations like the Sierra Club.

Last fall, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission reviewed the Cree nation's claims before approving Xcel's decision to consider extending its 500-megawatt contract with Manitoba Hydro.

The new deal, expected to run from 2005 to 2015, will be worth more than a $1 billion to Manitoba Hydro.

Xcel's board has unanimously urged shareholders to vote against tomorrow's resolution, which is backed by As You Sow, a non-profit San Francisco organization that promotes corporate responsibility.

Schneider does not expect the resolution to pass, but said the campaign could have long-term consequences. "This has the potential to poison the well."

If Xcel, or any other power company, finds equally cheap power from another source, it may be tempted to go with a company that does not come with this kind of baggage, Schneider said.

Pimicikamak Chief John Miswagon heads to Minneapolis today to speak to Xcel shareholders at the meeting. But his views will be countered by representatives of two other groups -- from Nelson House and Split Lake - that are working with Manitoba Hydro on possible development of new dams.

"That's their choice," Miswagon said yesterday. "In the long run, it does destroy the environment."

The New York Times ad associates the first nation's mass poverty and high suicide rate with flooding for hydro dams that changed the traditional way of life during the 1970s.

Miswagon said he is grateful for the support of US activists who funded the ad. A full-page ad in the New York Times costs about $130,000 US, but rates are cheaper for non-profit organizations.

Xcel spokesman Ed Legge said company representatives who have travelled to northern Manitoba are satisfied mechanisms are in place to settle the Cross Lake dispute.

Michael Passoff of As You Sow said even a three per cent vote in favour of the resolution will get it back on Xcel's agenda next year.

"A lot of major campaigns have won on just a small amount of votes. The whole South Africa divestment campaign -- generally those votes were anywhere from five to 15 per cent."

 

 



Manitoba Hydro destroying environment: U.S. activists
-------------------------------------
Utility shareholders:
New York Times ad says not to buy plant's electricity




Les Perreaux
National Post
http://www.nationalpost.com/
April 25, 2001


Anonymous shareholders in a U.S. electrical utility have accused Manitoba Hydro of destroying ecosystems and the hunting and fishing grounds of a northern Manitoba Indian band.

For decades the Pimicikamak band has fought with Manitoba Hydro over a massive hydro-electrical project, which diverted waterways in the area and drastically changed water levels. That struggle will move today into a corporate shareholder meeting in the United States, as a group of shareholders pushes a resolution to stop Minnesota-based Xcel Energy from buying electricity from Manitoba Hydro.

The shareholders backed their resolution with a full-page advertisement in The New York Times this week. The shareholders claimed the project caused high suicide rates and mass poverty, problems that afflict many northern First Nations.

As You Sow, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for corporate responsibility, bought the advertisement.

Members of the band, located north of Lake Winnipeg near the Nelson River, say a hydro-electrical project built there in the 1970s has destroyed their traditional way of life.

Parts of the Churchill River have been diverted and reversed to feed the project. The Nelson River now peaks in January, whereas rivers in Canada generally peak in the spring and summer. Band chief John Miswagon said the changes have killed a formerly lucrative trapping business. Local fisheries have been destroyed and band members are only allowed to eat fish from local waterways twice per month. Instead of selling fish, the band's 5,600 residents must now purchase fish to eat, he said.

"That's nonsense," said Glenn Schneider, a spokesman for Manitoba Hydro. "With all of these things they take the germ of an impact and mischaracterize it or they don't mention the things we have done to help people deal with the issue."

Mr. Schneider said the Crown-owned utility has reached agreements with four out of five bands affected by the project. Manitoba Hydro spent about $200-million over the past 10 years on improving conditions in the area for fewer than 15,000 residents, he said.

Mr. Schneider acknowledged that fishermen must now use different lakes, but the company has cleared paths to the lakes. The company also buys fish from local fisherman to give to local residents. He also acknowledged changes to river flow and flooded areas of the north are permanent.

He said the Minnesota utilities commission approved the purchase of electricity from Manitoba and leaders of the four bands that reached agreements testified on the company's behalf.

While today's resolution has little chance of success, its chief proponent said that if even 3% of shareholders vote for the resolution, he will consider the meeting a success.

Manitoba Hydro is suing the band for $1.2-million in unpaid power bills. The band has launched a $100-million lawsuit against the Crown-owned electrical utility for losses suffered from the project.

 

 

Cross Lake risking all
-------------------------------------
Efforts to influence U.S. buyer could backfire: Hydro




by Brendan O'Hallarn
Legislative Reporter
Winnipeg Sun
April 25, 2001


More than Manitoba Hydro's current contract to ship power to the United States is at stake with the effort to influence shareholders of a major U.S. buyer.

The Cross Lake First Nation -- which is asking for a boycott of Manitoba Hydro because of damage caused to their land by flooding in the 1970s -- is risking its own share of the Northern Flood Agreement, which still isn't finalized, Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider says. "Our revenues will suffer. Our rates will have to go up drastically. And it won't be helpful (negotiating the NFA) in the long run, either," he said.

POWER FROM OTHER SOURCES

Officials from Cross Lake are in Minneapolis today to make a presentation to shareholders of Xcel Energy. They're asking that a resolution seeking to get power supplies from other sources be passed by the company, which serves seven states in the American Midwest.

Cross Lake Vice-Chief William Osborne hailed the support of U.S. partners, who bought a full-page ad in the New York Times, in helping spotlight an issue he says was ignored in Canada for two decades. "It's time for the Americans to stop buying unsustainable power that is both dangerous to the environment and to aboriginal people," Osborne said. "The effort of these Americans will save Cree lives."

Hydro Minister Greg Selinger says he's confident Xcel shareholders will vote to continue to purchase power from Manitoba. But just in case, Manitoba Hydro has sent officials from two aboriginal bands who have signed Northern Flood Agreement deals to demonstrate that Hydro can deal in good faith.

 

 

April 25, 2001
from: ann stewart stewartship@visi.com


Cree Indians and American Shareholders Score Victory
-------------------------------------
On Unplugging from Manitoba Hydro
at U.S. Shareholders' Meeting First Time Out


 

Today's shareholder vote of 8.8% favored a resolution which called on Xcel Energy of Minneapolis, Minnesota to unplug from Manitoba Hydro and increase its power supply from renewable resources that do not have undue adverse impacts on human rights and the environment.

"This is a major victory for Pimicikamak Cree Nation in our struggle for the environment and human rights," said Chief John Miswagon, who spoke to the shareholders and management. "Just three years ago, no one in Manitoba, let alone Minnesota, was discussing the devastating impacts of what church inquiries have since called a 'moral and ecological catastrophe'. We are blown away by this level of compassion and support from American shareholders."

"This is a remarkably high level of support," said Michael Passoff of As You Sow, an expert non-profit corporate responsibility organization. As You Sow assisted the shareholder campaign.

"The high vote means the resolution received backing from the mainstream financial community who obviously agree that by increasing renewable energy sources, Xcel will be able to meet new government regulations, allow for greater market flexibility, improve shareholder value, and reduce the growing threat to Xcel1s reputation as a result of its purchasing energy from Manitoba Hydro," explained Passoff.

"The vote, combined with the shareholders' ability to run a full-page ad in the New York Times two days before the annual meeting, sends a clear message to management that this issue is likely to grow unless the company addresses shareholder concerns about the destructive environmental and human rights impacts of increasing energy imports to the U.S. from Manitoba Hydro's megaprojects."

Xcel Energy's CEO Wayne Brunetti told resolution co-filers that he is finally willing to meet with Pimicikamak Cree Nation leaders in their traditional territory in northern Manitoba, to learn firsthand of their concerns about the impacts of Manitoba Hydro on their land and community.



For more information:

Michael Passoff, Associate Director
As You Sow Foundation
540 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133
Tel: 415 291 9868 / 9867 Fax: 415 391 3245
Email: michael.ays@igc.org Web: www.proxyinformation.com

Ann Stewart, U.S. Information Officer,
Pimicikamak Cree Nation: 612-871-8404



Cree Nation claims victory in Hydro fight -------------------------------------



April 25, 2001
CBC News CANADA NOW
http://winnipeg.cbc.ca/cgi-bin/templates/view.cgi?/news/2001/04/25/mb_hydro250401


MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Manitoba's Pimicikamak Cree First Nation is celebrating a victory against Manitoba Hydro and its efforts to sell power to its biggest American customer.

Chief John Miswaggon says almost nine percent of the shareholders of Xcel Energy voted in favour of a resolution that could block Hydro from selling to the company. The vote was held Wednesday at Xcel Energy's annual shareholders meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Miswaggon says the vote ensures the issue will be on the agenda at the next shareholders annual meeting. He says that will keep the issue in the limelight until the band's grievances are dealt with.

Glenn Schneider of Manitoba Hydro has a different view of the vote result. "We expected the resolution to be defeated and it certainly was soundly defeated. We really got an opportunity to talk to the media in that area to give some other perspectives on the issue. They've been hearing, for the most part, one side of the story."

Pimicikamak Cree Nation's campaign against the utility is designed to highlight damage from hydro projects in the north. It is the only northern band affected by hydro development that has not signed a compensation agreement with Manitoba Hydro.

The group As You Sow helped the PCN in its campaign to put the resolution before Xcel shareholders. As You Sow is a U.S. lobby group that specializes in putting forward shareholder resolutions to adopt social changes. It launched a similar shareholder resolution campaign against Home Depot. That campaign led Home Depot to stop selling wood from old growth forests.

 

 


Shareholders Challenge Company Xcel Energy
-------------------------------------
Over Human Rights, Environmental Wrongs



ann stewart stewartship@visi.com

Minneapolis, April 25 (AScribe News) -- The Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) annual meeting was held under tight security today as shareholders and Canadian indigenous peoples demonstrated outside to challenge Xcel Energy over its record on human rights and environmental wrongs.

A shareholder resolution asking the company to increase its power supply from renewable resources that do not have undue adverse impacts on human rights and the environment received 8.8 percent of the shares voted.

"This is a great vote for this type of resolution," said Michael Passoff of the As You Sow Foundation, a shareholder representative. "Shareholder resolutions typically receive 3-5 percent on their first vote. This vote was about twice that amount."

A full-page ad in Monday's New York Times business section stated "Tell Xcel Energy that you don't want a short term investment based on long-term loss - Investing in Manitoba Hydro's environmental destruction and human rights abuses is just bad business."

Xcel currently gets only 4 percent of its energy from Manitoba Hydro, yet international criticism over the devastating ecological social impacts of Manitoba Hydro projects has tainted Xcel as a company complicit in environmental racism.

Manitoba Hydro signed the Northern Flood Agreement Treaty in 1977 promising environmental and socioeconomic mitigation to indigenous peoples throughout its vast project area. Manitoba Hydro has honored "few, if any," of its obligations, according to a recent Canadian federal inquiry.

As Manitoba Hydro's largest customer, Xcel has been sharply criticized by political and religious leaders, human rights and environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the World Council of Churches, the media and consumers for its role in contributing to the destruction of indigenous communities.

A Canadian interfaith inquiry declared that the situation faced by Pimicikamak Cree Nation and other indigenous peoples is "a moral and ecological catastrophe." Public concern has led to repeated scrutiny by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the filing of Minnesota state legislation.

Speaking at Wednesday's Xcel shareholder meeting was Pimicikamak Chief John Miswagon. "Manitoba Hydro now faces over 100 lawsuits about adverse effects on our environment and way of life," said Chief John Miswagon, "such as this year's $100-million-dollar lawsuit concerning Manitoba Hydro's contamination of community water supplies."

Xcel Energy's CEO Wayne Brunetti told resolution co-filers that he is willing to meet with Pimicikamak Cree Nation leaders in their traditional territory in northern Manitoba, to learn firsthand of their concerns about the impacts of Manitoba Hydro on the their land and community.

"The vote sent a clear message to management that this issue is likely to grow unless the company addresses shareholder concerns," said Passoff. Shareholder resolutions are non-binding and thus are not measured in the typical electoral sense of receiving a majority vote, but are more accurately interpreted in regards to their ability to change corporate practices.

The shareholder resolution calls on Xcel Energy to obtain more renewable energy - which shareholders believe will solve two problems at once. Pending legislation in the Minnesota State House will oblige Xcel to obtain 10 percent of its electricity mix from renewable sources by 2015. Currently, less than 2 percent of Xcel's energy qualifies as renewable under definitions proposed in Minnesota and adopted in other states: Manitoba Hydro's electricity fails this definition.

"Increasing renewable energy sources will meet new government regulations, allow for greater market flexibility, improve shareholder value, and reduce the growing threat to Xcel's reputation as a result of its purchasing energy from Manitoba Hydro," said Passoff.

The shareholders point out that Xcel's new 12-state service territory contains the best wind energy potential in North America, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Numerous studies conclude that wind in the upper Midwest is cost-competitive with traditional fossil-fuel generation and hydro imports. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reports that wind "is the fastest growing energy production method in the world, renewable or otherwise, having a overall growth rate in 1999 of 36 percent."

Additional information can be found at www.proxyinformation.com - Xcel Energy.


AScribe - The Public Interest Newswire / 510-653-9400

 

 

 

 


Xcel Energy won't end Manitoba deal
-------------------------------------



April 30, 2001
Canadian Press
http://web.northscape.com/content/gfherald/2001/04/27/local/HYDRO427.htm


WINNIPEG -- Xcel Energy has rejected a shareholder bid to cut ties with Manitoba Hydro over its treatment of the Cross Lake Cree.

But lobbyists for the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba say the 9 percent of Xcel Energy shareholders who supported them is a first step in turning international opinion.

"It's a major accomplishment," Chief John Miswagon said after Xcel's annual meeting in Minneapolis on Wednesday. About 1,800 shareholders attended the meeting.

Michael Passoff, associate director of the As You Sow foundation, which backed the motion, said 9 percent is probably more than the three largest Xcel shareholders combined.

Miswagon blames Manitoba Hydro for suicides, drownings and poverty on his reserve ever since massive rerouting of the Churchill and Nelson rivers in the 1970s destroyed fish habitat and flooded trapping grounds.

But his Cree neighbors from Nelson House and Split Lake flew to Minneapolis to contradict him.

"The impacts were 30 years ago. Nature has a way of healing itself," Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief Jerry Primrose of Nelson House, Man., told reporters.

Marcel Moody of Nelson House said road access and television are as much to blame for the loss of traditional culture.

Without the Manitoba Hydro power -- about four per cent of the utility's supply -- the reliability of Xcel's system would be jeopardized, Xcel CEO Wayne Brunetti said.

Xcel supplies power to 12 western and midwestern states.

Primrose said he is getting tired of trying to correct misconceptions created by the Cross Lake Cree, who sometimes claim to represent all northern Manitoba Cree.

Brunetti said he is willing to go to Cross Lake to meet the Pimicikamak and Manitoba Hydro, but he will not get in the middle of their negotiations over flood compensation.

 

 



Today's Winnipeg Free Press article (see below), should be read in the following context:

 

All five hydroproject-affected Cree communities on the Nelson River suffer the same desperation, suicide epidemics, environmental destruction and mass poverty as a result of Manitoba Hydro and Xcel Energy's mutual exploitation of the northern environment. This has gone on for 24 years and may continue to do so for three reasons:

MH needs to increase export sales to offset the astronomical debt the province has incurred from building the first projects;

to subsidize Manitoba's southern electricity rates (the lowest of any province or state in North America);

and to justify new river diversions and the building 3 or more new dams and a new transmission line for export to the US at the expense of the enviironment and human rights.

Last week, after the 9.4% vote (22 million shares!) in favor of a shareholder resolution that asks Xcel to "unplug from MH" and to increase its use of renewable energy (currently ONLY 2% of Xcel's total resource mix), the gloves have come off in Manitoba.

American supporters of PCN and Minnesotans of conscience (in the energy, environmental, faith and human rights communities) who have reacted to this "moral and ecological catastrophe" (the exact words of a 1999 Canadian Interchurch Inquiry into Northern Hydro Development) are being asked to believe that:

(a) PCN (which it is alleged is maliciously seeking to derail a responsible corporation from sustainable plans with respect to the sustainable future development of its destructive megaprojects) is "manipulating" Americans;

(b) the vast damage caused in the past will not be compounded by 5,000 megawatts of further river diversions and dams, and that future developments will be benign; and

(c) that the other Manitoba tribes apparently supporting MH in pursuing these destructive projects are doing so out of free choice, without finacial support form Hydro and the government, without duress, and from a position of having other options that do not include the further destruction of their traditional lands.

In addition, the Minnesotans who have travelled to northern Manitoba and seen the extraordinary ongoing damage caused by Manitoba Hydro's mega-projects in the boreal forest should (according to the author of this WFP article) simply forget what they witnessed firsthand -- including the social and cultural devastation -- and simply continue to buy increasing quantitites of this tainted power.

It is claimed that if Minnesotans unplug from Manitoba Hydro, the corporation will be "hard pressed" (financially, presumably) to carry out its 1977 Treaty obligations to clean up the environment and assist the Cree Tribes. A Canadian federal Inquiry establishes that even in the late 1990's, few if any of these 1977 obligations had yet been met (this before Americans began to be aware of this travesty). This failure by Hydro to carry out its environmental and social mitigation obligations occurred during a 23 year-long era of ballooning Hydro profits and revenues (now at over $1.3 billion Canadian per year) -- including massive profit-taking from recent American energy shortages. Their claim is simply not credible.

In the end, this Winnipeg Free Press article's author is simply pleading for the continuation of status quo -- one that clearly involves the sacrifice of northern Indian societies and a fragile boreal environment that has been called the Amazon of the North -- for extremely "cheap" power in Manitoba and Minnesota. Energy consumers on both sides of the border -- including the holders of 22 million Xcel shares, see this plea for what it is: irresponsible and unsustainable.

Regards,
Ann Stewart



Hydro smeared by power play at Xcel meeting First nations,
-------------------------------------
environmentalists team up



By Helen Fallding
Winnipeg Free Press
April 30, 2001


IF the Pimicikamak Cree of Cross Lake had persuaded Xcel Energy last week not to renew its contract with Manitoba Hydro, the first nation could have dealt a severe blow to the Crown corporation and its customers.

The U.S. utility has poured at least $170 million a year into Hydro's coffers -- about 15 per cent of the Manitoba company's electricity revenues. Without that cash, power rates in Manitoba would be unlikely to remain the lowest on the continent.

Another consequence, according to a lawyer representing Cree people from neighbouring Split Lake, is that Manitoba Hydro would have been hard pressed to meet its existing commitments to flood compensation.

Was crippling Hydro really Cross Lake's intention, at a time when the band is trying to negotiate its own compensation deal?

Manitoba Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider thinks not. "This is really a lever for the Cross Lake folks in their negotiations. It's nothing more than that."

Cross Lake has been offered $100 million to settle its claims under the Northern Flood Agreement, including $60 million in Hydro bonds.

Chief John Miswagon told reporters after Xcel's annual meeting Wednesday in Minneapolis that the offer is not good enough.

"It's not going to make us an economically viable community," he said, but he would not put a dollar figure on what he would consider acceptable.

Miswagon admitted that whenever the first nation does "outreach" like it did in Minneapolis this week, things start moving again at the negotiating table.

The Pimicikamak Cree have formed an alliance with U.S. environmentalists, who want Xcel to invest more in alternative energy sources like wind power. A group of about 100 demonstrators outside Xcel's meeting Wednesday handed out buttons calling on Xcel to "Have a heart. Unplug from Manitoba Hydro."

Nisichawayasihk Cree Chief Jerry Primrose, whose Nelson House band wants to work with Manitoba Hydro to develop new dams, accused environmental groups of abusing first nations to enhance their own agenda.

Others suggest that it's the Cross Lake Cree who are using the environmentalists. The story of desperately poor northern Indians abused by a heartless corporation is so irresistible that it garnered the support of Americans with enough cash to buy a full-page ad in the New York Times at a cost of about $95,000 US.

But it's hard to see how Xcel cutting its ties with Manitoba Hydro would have helped the environment. Flooding that devastated fish stocks in the 1970s cannot be reversed. New Manitoba Hydro dams under consideration would cause much less significant flooding and are in the territories of first nations that welcome them as a source of new jobs.

However, Miswagon said compensation money could be used for environmental cleanup that would create jobs in his community. Floating debris that endangers the lives of boaters could be removed and fallen logs turned into wood chips.

The ultimate goal of his mission in Minneapolis might have been money, but it's money for the same good cause that motivates Chief Primrose -- creating a path out of the despair that plagues young aboriginal people, whether their communities were flooded or not.

The sad situation played out in Minneapolis last week is that one first nation's hope for salvation is another's poison.

What is Xcel: Formerly known as Northern States Power, Xcel Energy is the fourth-largest combined gas and electrical utility in the U.S. With annual revenues of $11.5 billion, it operates in 12 states, serving more than three million customers.

Half of Xcel's electricity comes from coal-fired plants, 12 per cent from nuclear power and nine per cent from natural-gas plants. The company purchases 25 per cent of its electricity, including four per cent from Manitoba Hydro.

Xcel is paying Manitoba Hydro more than $1.4 billion US over 12 years for a 500-megawatt contract.

Wednesday's resolution: Xcel shareholders voted on the following resolution, proposed by two minor shareholders. "The shareholders of Xcel Energy recommend to the board of directors that it develop and implement policies and practices requiring that our company obtain power supplies from increased efficiencies and renewable resources that do not have undue adverse environmental, socioeconomic and human rights impacts upon Pimicikamak Cree Nation and other indigenous peoples."

After winning more than three per cent support, shareholders have the right to resubmit the resolution at next year's annual meeting.

 


Hydro plans should include environmental concerns
-------------------------------------


from: Ann Stewart stewartship@visi.com

May 7, 2001
Winnipeg Free Press


THE Free Press is to be congratulated on its increasingly critical coverage of Manitoba Hydro's plans. Conceived in secrecy, Manitoba Hydro's plans have had significant effects, both good and bad, on Manitobans. They have had very significant impacts on the Pimicikamak people, few of them good. Pimicikamak Cree Nation feels that more critical discussion and a wider and better-informed public understanding of Manitoba Hydro's activities and plans could serve us all well.

PCN also welcomes critical consideration of its own activities relating to Manitoba Hydro. An April 30 Free Press article focused on PCN's endorsement of a shareholder resolution at the annual meeting of Xcel Energy in Minneapolis. The article suggested that PCN's actions were contrary to the interests of Manitoba Hydro's customers. However, I believe that, when understood, PCN's actions will be found to support the interests of all Manitobans.

First, we should clear up a misconception. Notwithstanding repeated public statements by Manitoba Hydro, the idea that PCN is trying to negotiate a bigger compensation settlement is a myth (as Manitoba Hydro well knows). The reason is simple. PCN already has a settlement -- the Northern Flood Agreement --- and has no interest in a new "deal" to buy it out. PCN wants Manitoba Hydro to live up to its NFA promises. The NFA provides for a wide range of remedies, with financial compensation being only a last resort if they fail.

In fact, in 1997, PCN passed a law that prohibits a buyout deal and there is no practical possibility of this law being repealed. In 1998, Manitoba Hydro president Bob Brennan, together with representatives of the federal and provincial governments, signed a solemn undertaking to "set aside the concept of comprehensive settlement with Cross Lake First Nation, and welcome(d) the opportunity to work with (us) in a spirit of partnership to implement the NFA in accordance with its spirit and intent."

Manitoba Hydro has made a horrible mess of our boreal environment, creating wide mudflats, drowned habitat, eroding banks and vast expanses of debris. The previous provincial minister responsible for Hydro called it "travesties, the victimization of a people." A recent Inter-Church Public Inquiry panel described it as "a moral and ecological catastrophe." Our people refer to it as "an environmental slum." Some of the NFA remedies would go a long way to cleaning up this environmental slum. While (contrary to another myth) the NFA is mostly clear and unequivocal, in practice Manitoba Hydro has been very slow to clean up. It is of course concerned that cleaning up will be expensive. Indeed, Manitoba Hydro has until now avoided even finding out what it will cost.

Manitoba Hydro likes to boast about its low-cost product. It also likes to market it with an "environmentally friendly" green sticker. Xcel Energy is learning that the sticker is not true, and that this product is cheap because it is produced at the expense of the environment and our human rights.

We believe that it is in the interests of all Manitobans to learn more about this, before more bad decisions are made. Two decades ago, Manitoba Hydro solemnly promised to clean up its environmental mess. But even to this day, there is little sign that Manitoba Hydro recognizes the nature and extent of the mess. Yet it claims that its future projects will be environmentally clean. We have a sense of d

Deja vu.

We find it regrettable that your paper would repeat uncritically Manitoba Hydro's mantra that new dams would cause much less flooding. We know from bitter experience, and Manitoba Hydro should know by now, that flooding is only one, and often far from the worst, of the environmental impacts of large-scale hydro.

Impacts

Indeed, many of the worst impacts (and the loss of many lives) result from unnatural changes in the water regime -- levels and flows. Since Manitoba Hydro controls the water flows to meet export sales as well as domestic needs, merely signing a contract can and does add to these impacts. Manitoba Hydro's inability to understand (or even mention) these impacts does not encourage hope that it will do better in future.

Meanwhile, catastrophic costs of neglected or dismissed impacts of existing hydro development are borne disproportionately by aboriginal peoples. PCN is determined to take all legitimate actions to bring this story to the public. This is not intended to be a one-sided story -- for example, it will include the steps that PCN and Manitoba Hydro are beginning to take together, to clean up the environment, and it will include resulting benefits for other affected first nations.

Finally, PCN's actions in Minneapolis last week were moderate and responsible. Your paper reported that, "If PCN had persuaded Xcel Energy last week not to renew its contract with Manitoba Hydro, it could have dealt a severe blow to the Crown corporation and its customers." In fact, the resolution, brought by Xcel shareholders (not PCN, though I did speak for 60 seconds in favour of it), could not have had that effect. Even if passed (which was never remotely possible the first time around -- its proponents were very pleased that it far exceeded the three per cent legal threshold for resubmitting it next year), it would not have affected existing contracts with Manitoba Hydro.

Indeed, the shareholder resolution did not directly mention Manitoba Hydro. It simply recommended that Xcel Energy get its power from renewable sources that do not have undue adverse environmental and human rights impacts on aboriginal peoples, including PCN. Why would Manitoba Hydro be afraid of this?

Surely, this a policy that every Manitoban can support.

John Miswagon is chief of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Cross Lake.

 

 

 


Minnesota State Legislature Passes Energy Bill
-------------------------------------

Definition of Renewable Energy Excludes Hydroelectric
with a Capacity Greater than 60 Megawatts


Pimicikamak Cree Nation
c/o Box 10, Cross Lake, Manitoba, Canada, R0B 0J0
May 21, 2001


St. Paul MN -- By House (64-0) and Senate (98-35) votes, the Minnesota State Legislature passed "A bill for an act relating to energy; providing for comprehensive energy conservation, production, and regulatory changes." The POWER Coalition, a twenty-four member group of Minnesota's most important environmental, consumer advocacy and labor organizations, shepherded the bill throughout the five-month legislative session which ended today. The coalition's goal is promoting clean, reliable and affordable energy.

"Four days after President Bush unveiled his national energy policy in St. Paul, Minnesota is choosing to support renewable wind and biomass resources," said Ann Stewart, information officer in the United States for Pimicikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. "This new law says that hydroelectric dams must be smaller than 60 megawatts to be considered as sources of renewable energy for Minnesota. Manitoba Hydro's existing and proposed dams are much bigger than 60 megawatts."

"The message that hydro megaprojects are not renewable energy is getting through to the conscience of Americans," said John Miswagon, Chief of Pimicikamak Cree Nation. "We know from personal experience that big dams devastate the environment and our way of life. We thank the Minnesota environmentalists who advocate developing truly renewable resources."

The bill now goes to Governor Jesse Ventura for his signature, which is expected shortly.



Further information:
Vice Chief William Osborne, Pimicikamak Cree Nation 204-676-2218
Ann Stewart, US Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation 612-871-8404


 

 

 


Manitoba Hydro unfazed by Minnesota energy bill
-------------------------------------

 

By Helen Fallding
Winnipeg Free Press
May 23, 2001


CROSS Lake Cree are claiming another victory in their efforts to ruin Manitoba Hydro's international reputation after Minnesota legislators passed an energy bill that excludes big dams from renewable energy targets.

The bill passed by the House and Senate late Monday night encourages utilities to increase the amount of energy produced from renewable sources to 10 per cent by 2015.

But only solar power, wind generation, biomass and hydroelectric generating stations with a capacity of less than 60 megawatts are eligible.

Manitoba Hydro, which relies heavily on sales to Minnesota's Xcel Energy, has a dozen new dams on the drawing board -- each expected to produce between 70 and 1,275 megawatts of power.

Ann Stewart, a Minneapolis-based lobbyist who works full time for the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, said the bill will draw attention to Manitoba Hydro's outstanding obligations to the Cross Lake band over environmental damage caused by existing dams.

"Manitoba Hydro has a really serious image problem here."

But Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider is unconcerned. He said the definition Stewart is crowing about applies only to "marginal" technologies that the state wants to subsidize -- something Manitoba Hydro does not need.

Another section of the bill requiring utilities to offer customers renewable energy at a separate rate uses the old definition of "renewable" -- one that includes all hydroelectricity.

If consumers take utilities up on the offer, Hydro's power could command a premium, Schneider said.

"Again, they have been defeated and they've declared victory," he said of Cross Lake's interpretation of the new bill, which is being sent to Gov. Jesse Ventura for his signature.

 

 

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Pages: Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2001.
2000: Jan.-May, June-July, Aug.- Oct., Nov.-Dec.. 1999
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates:
2002. 2001.
2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.-Dec.. 1999

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