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:
2001. 2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.-Dec.. 1999

power lines

Hydroelectric dams destroying
Manitoba Cree rivers

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

Updates: 2003-2002

Pages Contents:  
  Aug. 08 Dear Friend of Pimicikamak... Write or phone...
  Dec. 12 Canadians closely watching billion dollar Xcel deal
  Dec. 03 Manitoba Cree dams action alert

Oct. 10

Manitoba Hydro contract at the PUC and other MWEJ news updates


Dear Friend of Pimicikamak --


Dear Friend of Pimicikamak --

A letter (see attached file) or telephone call from you to a Canadian Minister or two can help to get a full federal panel review of the industrial hydroelectric complex in the Boreal Forest. See overview of the current situation below. If you'd like more information, or to remove your name from this list, send me an e-mail message or feel free to contact me by telephone at 952-915-1505. Thank you. Tim Rudnicki/ Attorney at Law/ Pimicikamak U.S. Advocate.

This material is distributed by Tim Rudnicki on behalf of Pimicikamak. Additional information is available at the Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C.



Thursday July 24: launch of major legal and political action in regard to Manitoba Hydro�s existing massive hydro operation (existing segment) and proposed expansion (future segment).

The existing segment (Churchill River Diversion and Lake Winnipeg Regulation) is a system of dams, infrastructure, transmission lines, storage reservoirs, river diversions, etc. It has caused a great deal of environmental damage and human suffering since it was built in the early 1970s, which continues almost unchecked and grows day by day.

For decades there has been one plan for one big integrated hydro project that would develop and re-engineer the entire northern river system of Manitoba for electricity. Half of this has been built (the existing segment). The other half (future segment and more damage) is proposed by Manitoba Hydro (MH) to be built. It has publicly announced plans to develop the other half of the water power capacity in the province (about 5600 MW) through more than a dozen new dams, and major transmission corridors.

News of Illegality: Based on information just discovered, the applicant Pimicikamak (an indigenous Cree nation in northern Manitoba) asserts that the existing segment is operating illegally and has been since it was constructed.

Violations of Provincial Law:
MH never applied for and was never granted any approval under the provincial environmental statute. If no sych licence, there were never any licence conditions or limits on environmental impacts. MH has essentially been given a grant to operate the existing segment in whatever manner it wants regardless of the environmental consequences. It is little wonder that damage is significant and remains largely unchecked.

Hydro projects in Manitoba require two main provincial approvals/licences to operate: a water power licence (which allows use of water to create electricity, and sets conditions on water flow, storage, levels etc.) AND an environmental licence (which sets conditions and limits on environmental effects from any such operation). MH got the first; it never got the second.

Such licences are supposed to be issued before any project is built. Decisions on whether to approve the licence and which conditions to put on it, are supposed to be based on the results of environmental assessment and review which reveal what types of impacts and harms might be caused, how bad they might be, and how best to avoid and mitigate them.

In the early 1970s, the provincial environment minister ordered the reviewing agency to not conduct any such review. This may have led to the scandal and problems identified in the 1979 Tritschler Inquiry. Nevertheless, it in no way exempted MH from the requirement to apply for and receive approval under the environmental statute. It never did.

Federal Law Also Violated:
Pimicikamak asserts that the existing segment violates federal law:
� Fisheries Act (harm to fish habitat)
� Navigable Waters Protection Act (obstruction of waterways by tons of dead tree and other debris from flooding and shoreline erosion, and some debris has resulted in death from boating accidents)
� Migratory Birds Convention Act (destruction of migratory birds� nests).

All of these interferences with nature require federal permits in advance, and before a permit can be issued, an environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) must be conducted. Such permits would have conditions about the nature and extent of such harm.

The violations should be remedied now. They should be remedied by approvals under provincial and federal statutes, which are based on a full assessment and review of the existing segment. The review will determine which conditions should be set on approvals (licence and permits), including to fix and minimize damage that has been caused, and to prevent and mitigate further damage.

That sounds simple enough. But an environmental review and assessment process has already started for a proposed new dam and transmission line (Wuskwatim) � to be added to the existing segment and all its impacts.

Future additions and changes are being considered before and without knowing what has already happened. You can�t know whether or not to approve Wuskwatim or any new element of the future segment if you don�t know what it is you are proposing to affect (the existing segment and all its effects) and how you will affect it.

Further, you can�t know whether to approve any particular element of the future segment without knowing more about the other elements. Hydro works through an integrated and interconnected system. It must be this way. Each part affects other parts and the whole. To know whether any future parts should be built in any given way, in which order, at which time, etc., requires knowing and reviewing the future segment as it is presently contemplated.
The answer: hold one comprehensive review/assessment now for the �Whole Project� � what is already built (the existing segment) and what is presently contemplated to come in the future (the future segment, which includes Wuskwatim).

Given the serious damage already created, the threat it will be expanded with new development, and the serious legal issues, this review and assessment should be conducted by a federal panel review of the Whole Hydro Project.

Actions by Pimicikamak on July 24:
� Notice of Motion to Manitoba Clean Environment Commission (the current reviewing agency), seeking assessment and review of the Whole Project. The CEC has the authority to do this under the Manitoba Environment Act by broadening the scope of the review now before it (in the Wuskwatim proceeding) to the Whole Project. Seeking public hearing on the motion before the CEC after August 15 (several affidavits of evidence should be filed with the CEC by August 11).

� Notice also calls for serious omissions and errors in MH�s filings in the current review/EA to be fixed. Clearly, with a broader review more information would be required from MH anyway. But the problems with the filings go well beyond that. Information and analysis on environmental impacts (including cumulative and system-wide impacts), the need for and alternatives to the project, and justification for the project are seriously misrepresented.

� Letters to Manitoba�s Minister of Conservation, Director of Licencing.

� Letters to federal Ministers calling for review and assessment as basis for federal permits that are required; and to the Minister of Environment, calling for review and assessment of the Whole Hydro Project by a public panel under CEAA.

Help Requested Now:
Starting week of July 28: Send the attached letters to the federal Minister of the Environment, and the Manitoba Minister of Conservation, and call their offices. Forward this package to your members and others. Your involvement can make all the difference.

The Manitoba Conservation Minister can order the CEC to expand the review to the Whole Hydro Project. The federal Environment Minister can call for a full federal panel review of the Whole Project.

For further information, please contact
Kate Kempton, Counsel to Pimicikamak
Phone: 416-981-9374 Cell: 416-917-7897

Letters from Envtls to Ministers, Template, July 24, 2003 .doc format


Canadians closely watching billion dollar Xcel deal

Minneapolis , Minn.
Dec. 12, 2002
Cree-Xcel-Manitoba Hydro story:

A thousand miles from the Twin Cities, the rivers flow northward to the Hudson Bay and electricity is created.

With a flip of the switch in Minnesota, Xcel Energy's customers tap into Canadian hydro power.

Dave Sparby of Xcel Energy says, "It certainly is competitive, it's affordable."

The people who live in this remote forest say that's what connects Minnesotans to three decades of environmental damage, and damage to their community.

Ken Bradley, Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy says, "People of color, that are poor and they're helpless and they don't have a lot of power or clout."

The Cross Lake First Nation is fighting the Canadian government and its crown corporation, "Manitoba Hydro."

In the seventies, Manitoba Hydro built the JenPeg Dam on the Nelson River, as well as other dams in the area, diverting massive amounts of water.

Under the 1977 Northern Flood Agreement, Manitoba Hydro and the government has provided sixty-million in compensation to Cross Lake, But Cross Lake's leaders say the bulk of that agreement has never been implemented.

Ken Bradley says, "They should just clean up the mess that they've created."

Bradley says he traveled to Cross Lake this summer, and saw how the dramatic rise and fall of the water, controlled by the dams, has seriously eroded the shoreline for hundreds of miles, destroyed an ecosystem for fish spawning and small wildlife, and turned the water murky with sediment.

Cross Lake leaders say the erratic waters swept away a traditional life of fishing and trapping ... and led, in part, to the community's 85-percent unemployment, alcoholism and high suicide rates.

Chief John Miswagon, Cross Lake First Nation says, "The biggest difficulty is trying to create jobs." Now a 10-year, one-point-two billion dollar deal to buy Manitoba's Hydro power is pending with Xcel Energy.

Cross Lake is asking for a contested case hearing, a kind of fact-finding trial, before the Public Utilities Commission approves this major agreement.

Tim Rudnicki, Cross Lake's U.S. Campaign Coordinator says, "Xcel's business decision may not be the best public policy decision for Minnesotans."

Dave Sparby of Xcel Energy says, "We've taken these concerns very seriously.�

Xcel's leaders say Canadian hydro power is affordable, and would supply nine percent of its future power needs.

But Cross Lake's leaders want conditions on the deal that would address their community's problems, conditions that could make Manitoba's power more expensive.

Xcel executives say they've carefully reviewed the Canadian government's efforts.

Dave Sparby of Xcel Energy says, �We believe certainly that they have taken steps to address these concerns."

Xcel's leaders point out most of the First Nation bands are satisfied with the compensation they've received.

In the past decade, four First Nations have signed new compensation agreements with the Canadian government. Cross Lake�s leaders turned down a similar offer.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press and Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


Manitoba Cree dams action alert


Date: 12-3-02

From: Diane J. Peterson
Minnesota Witness for Environmental Justice
Witness Line: (651) 255-6945

RE: Please respond to the _St. Paul Pioneer Press_ (1) article and (2) editorials on Manitoba Hydro. (The sooner the better.)

  1. Yesterday, the _St. Paul Pioneer Press_ ran a front-page story on the Manitoba Hydro controversy. You can read it online at the JustEnergy website by going to, finding the News Coverage heading in the left column of the home page (below the "Activist's Corner" and clicking on "Cree Criticize Energy Deal."

    It is important for MN Public Utilities Commissioners to see your letter to the editor in print. Please send in your comments on the article to the editor: or, use snail mail:
    St. Paul Pioneer Press
    345 Cedar Street
    St. Paul, MN 55101

    The more public awareness/support we can generate for environmental justice through the media, the more unlikely that the Commissioners will simply rubber stamp Xcel's plans to continue business as usual with Manitoba Hydro. (meaning hundreds of square miles of flooded Cree homelands, dammed rivers, horribly polluted water, and a future without hope for Cree youth.)

  2. Today, the _Pioneer Press_ has two editorials on its Opinion page, one by St. Thomas University professor Steve Hoffman, and the other by Xcel's Dave Sparby. We want to refute Mr. Sparby's claims and promote Mr. Hoffman's position.

    Mr. Hoffman wants the Commissioners to grant a contested case hearing on Xcel's contract with Manitoba Hydro proposal so that all the facts pertaining to Manitoba Hydro will finally be put on the table. Mr. Sparby says that Xcel has been careful about investigating Manitoba Hydro. He claims that ending Xcel's 10-year contract will not have a positive outcome for the environment. He goes on to claim that if Xcel does not buy the power, it will merely be sold elsewhere--this is equivalent to saying that if I don't buy slaves from a slaveholder, somebody else will, so I may as well do it because my no-purchase action won't prevent slave dealing.

This coverage in the St. Paul paper is a good opportunity to recontact "As It Happens" in Canada. Get copies of the article and the editorials and send them on to the "As It Happens" radio producers, asking them to cover this international story. Here is the contact information for the radio show:

As It Happens
Box 500 Station A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6

Office number: 416-205-2600
Fax: 416-205-2639


As It Happens website:

Remember, all of the corporate interests want to keep this controversy out of the media and hidden from the public. It is important to enlist the media in exposing all of the destruction occurring in northern Manitoba and the manipulation going on by the moneyed interests of corporations and governments. The truth is, most of the people in the Upper Midwest and in Canada do not know about the reengineering of the Churchill and Nelson Rivers, its ongoing impacts, and the role of U.S. electricity sales in motivating further environmental destruction. It is up to us to get this story in the news so the problem can be dealt with justly.



RE: Manitoba Hydro contract at the PUC
and other MWEJ news updates


From: Diane J. Peterson
Minnesota Witness for Environmental Justice
Witness Line: (651) 255-6945


The 500 megawatt contract between Xcel Energy and Manitoba Hydro recently arrived at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the public now has until October 21, 2002, to send in written comments on it. Your participation in this official public comment period is valuable. MWEJ will soon develop and circulate a notice to you (via e-mail) with our recommendation about the best way for folks to write in their comments to the PUC. Watch your e-mail for this!

On October 8, 9 & 10 (Tue. to Thurs.), Chief John Miswagon, Women's Chief Eugenia Mercredie, and other representatives of Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Cross Lake, Manitoba, Canada, will be visiting Vermillion Community College in Ely, Minnesota. Pimicikamak Cree Nation currently suffers extreme cultural and environmental degradation due to Manitoba Hydro development in their homeland. A special public presentation open to all members of Vermillion Community College as well as to the general public, has been planned for Tuesday, October 8th, 7-10 PM, at the College Auditorium.

Please plan to attend, or, spread the word to everyone you can in the Ely area. (Do you have relatives, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, or former school mates near Ely? Let them know about this. Help MWEJ member Don Johnson get a big, supportive crowd for Pimicikamak guest speakers.)

For further information contact:

Don Johnson, Instructor
Anthropology/Indigenous Studies
Vermillion Community College
Ely, Minnesota

Two newspaper excerpts.

From an article in the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (September 28) by Carol Sanders and Helen Fallding; "Hydro stunt a shocker: Three arrested after pair rappels down building, defaces mural":

" . . . [T]wo people rappelled down the front of a Manitoba Hydro building yesterday, stopping along the way to deface a giant mural to protest hydro development in the North. . . . while dozens of demonstrators from a forestry conference at the University of Winnipeg handed out brochures to drivers backed up along Portage Avenue and St. James Street. . . . The two seasoned stunt activists temporarily marred the giant mural at the corner of Portage and St. James, using duct tape and electrical tape to turn the Power Smart logo into "Power Dumb" and write "Hydro's Dam Mess. . . ."

Daredevil climbers get conditional discharges

'People should not be deterred' from protest, judge says

Tuesday, October 1st, 2002
By Mike McIntyre

"Two daredevils who tied up traffic and police resources for several hours last week will not receive criminal records for their bizarre public protest of hydro development in the north. William Higgs and Hau Lam pleaded guilty yesterday to mischief, but were handed conditional discharges by provincial court Judge Robert Kopstein. . . . 'Protest is a legitimate expression and people should not be deterred from it. Yes, this incident was all over the paper, but big deal. I think most people just look at it and say 'look at those two idiots', Kopstein said yesterday. . . ."

------------------------------------------------------------ 4. PROMOTING A NEW PUC COMMISSIONER
We can lobby for the type of Commissioner we want to replace Ed Garvey who is retiring on Oct. 4. I consulted with Paula Maccabee, the Sierra Club expert working on the Minnesota Air Toxics Campaign, and she suggested the following criteria for us to consider:

  1. ) The proposed commissioner should have no current or past employment, lobbying or financial ties to any of the regulated industries subject to PUC jurisdiction.

  2. ) The proposed commissioner should have a fact-based and policy-based approach to issues, rather than a deal-making approach. The PUC needs to be seen as a quasi-judicial body, not a political forum.

  3. ) The proposed commissioner should have a history of respect for environmental protection and an appreciation that costs of energy to Minnesotans include health costs and environmental costs beyond those measured by the externalities calculations adopted by PUC.

  4. ) The proposed commissioner should support interagency cooperation and acknowledge that both power plant legislation and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act apply to State action pertaining to determinations of need and location for power plants and transmission lines.

  5. ) The proposed commissioner should explicitly espouse the view that energy efficiency and sustainable clean energy are critical for Minnesota's economy and environment. Before the election on November 5, we do not want to promote a person. Instead, we want to promote criteria for the kind of person the new governor will appoint in January. We can lobby for particular persons after the election. Ms. Maccabee remarked, ". . . [I]t is preferable to agree on criteria for decision-making so that support or opposition of individuals can be explained as a matter of policy, not a personal judgment."


    Wednesday, Oct. 23, 7-9:00 PM
    Twin Cities Friends Meetinghouse
    1725 Grand Avenue (onstreet parking)
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    It is especially helpful if newcomers who plan to attend will contact us beforehand: or Witness Line: (651) 255-6945





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:
2001. 2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.-Dec.. 1999

Midwest Treaty Network Contents