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Hydro-Québec is Counting its Chickens Before they Hatch

Hydro-Québec is Counting its Chickens Before they Hatch

PR Newswire

COMMENTARY BY THE INNU, ATIKAMEKW, ANISHNABEG COALITION ABOUT HYDRO QUÉBEC'S HYDROELECTRICITY EXPORT PROJECT TO THE UNITED STATES

KITCISAKIK, QC, Jan. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ - Once again Hydro-Québec has celebrated a premature victory regarding the interconnection line it plans to build through the State of Maine to Massachusetts. In a press release published Friday January 15, 2021, in the Province of Quebec, the state-owned corporation indeed announced that "The Federal Department of Energy (US-DOE) has granted the presidential permit to the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line project (NECEC). – According to the document – All regulatory authorizations necessary for the realization of the project have therefore been obtained in the United States."

Not so fast!

On that same Friday January 15, the United States Court of Appeals issued an injunction to block the start of construction, thus suspending the application of the presidential permit. Hydro-Québec was careful not to publicize this setback. The state-owned corporation also neglected to mention that a referendum is due to be held in Maine in 2021 with an aim of blocking the project.

The situation is not under control!

Following steps taken by a number of U.S. environmental and political circles actively supported in Canada by our coalition of five indigenous communities, namely the First Nations of Pessamit, Wemotaci, Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik, it is estimated that a growing portion of the population in the State of Maine now oppose the Hydro-Québec project. If opponents to this project win the referendum, Hydro-Québec could see its dream of massive exportation to Massachusetts collapse. It could also be forced to reassess its position regarding the constitutional rights of the Innu, Atikamekw and Anishnabeg people from whose territories 36% of this electricity is being produced and whose lands suffer dire consequences.

A questionable communications approach

"Already in 2016, Hydro-Québec made similar claims in the case of the Northern Pass line meant to transit through New Hampshire to Massachusetts, says Régis Pénosway, Chief of the Anishnabeg of Kitcisakik. But as a result of pressure exerted by our American allies with our support, Hydro-Québec was forced to back down and the project collapsed. Regarding its current project, the state-owned corporation had already prematurely cried victory in 2020 and did so again in 2021, with new fallacious statements aimed at the Quebec media. Just recently, Hydro-Québec announced its intention to launch a new interconnection line project, this time to New York City, and will no doubt continue to use the same kind of information strategy.  But once again, it will have to face our opposition."

Half-truths

The Hydro-Québec press release says that on the Quebec side of the border, "... regulatory assessments are continuing with regards to the Canadian portion of the project. So far, the transmission line project has obtained approvals from the Quebec agency responsible for energy and the protection of agricultural land." However, the press release neglects to mention that the export project is neither approved by the government of Quebec nor by the government of Canada. The coalition of our five First Nations has formally notified the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) of its opposition to this project. By virtue of our constitutional rights recognized by the CER, we will therefore be actively involved in the ongoing process which will continue until spring 2021.

Serious discussions

For decades, Hydro-Québec has been ignoring the constitutional rights of our First Nations and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Quebec Premier, François Legault, must recognize the reality of systemic racism within his government and engage in a process of reconciliation. As long as he persists in considering the future of his state-owned corporation without consulting our First Nations, without obtaining their consent, without compensation and without partnerships with them, Hydro-Québec's projects in the United Stated will be doomed to failure. The time has come for serious discussions!

Cision View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hydro-quebec-is-counting-its-chickens-before-they-hatch-301213293.html

SOURCE Innu-Atikamekw-Anishnabeg Coalition



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