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GSX Georgia Strait Crossing


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Subscribe to the SqWALK! Bulletin Oct 26, 2000
And let us tell you when something new is posted on SqWALK!... more

NDP allowing far `dirtier' plant than Sumas Oct 26, 2000
A power plant in Campbell River will emit 10 times as much carbon monoxide as one proposed for Sumas, Wash.. more
The full report on this is at:
The "dirt" on Campbell River is in section 3.2, page 7 (page 19 in Acrobat).

Letter to Brad, a student from Shawnigan Lake Oct 24, 2000
I'm a youth from Shawnigan Lake and I'm doing an assignment on (the GSX) pipeline and I'm wondering if you could give me just a brief overview of why this is such a bad thing? And what some solutions would be... more

No reason to trust Island cogen plans Oct 22, 2000
Based on the Campbell River cogen example, neither BC Hydro nor the government has earned the right to the public's trust. Paul Willcocks reports on Island Cogen and lax pollution controls... more

Anderson Refers GSX To Panel Review Oct 4, 2000
Minister of Environment Joan Sawicki on Sumas Energy 2 Sept 28, 2000    Press release
CVRD demands NEB announce new scoping deadline Sept 28, 2000
Hydro likes independent review idea Sept. 24, 2000
Anderson Defends Himself on Sumas Energy 2 Sept. 22, 2000
Marine Route Info Session Another PR Disaster for GSX Sept. 20, 2000
Koksilah River Crossing: Is this a concern? Sept. 19, 2000
Hundreds rally against proposed Sumas plant Sept. 15, 2000
Cobble Hill Marine Route Info Session, Sept 20 Sept. 7, 2000
Hydro and Williams lay another egg August 27, 2000
Living on a Giant Bic Lighter August 27, 2000
Saturna Info Session goes very badly August 26, 2000
Islands Trust requests Independent Panel Review August 22, 2000
Saturna Community Club requests Panel Review August 24, 2000
CVRD requests Panel Review, 13 points of concern August 23, 2000
Director Richard Dalon requests Independent Panel Review August 24, 2000
Senator Pat Carney requests an Independent Panel Review August 14, 2000
Pipeline worker egged, resigns    SqWALK! Comments  August 23, 2000
BC Hydro info sessions on Marine Route of GSX August 19,2000
BC Hydro's real plan for a Duncan generation plant August 19,2000
Land Reserve Commission gives its support to GSX August 2, 2000
CVRD takes a position on the GSX August 16, 2000
Citizens Guide to the Canadian Environmental Process (CEAA) August 16, 2000
Lay Guide to the NEB Environmental Assessment August 8, 2000 Download
Overview notes to the GSX August 4, 2000 Download
Earthquake hits Vancouver Island August 2,2000
Sumas Energy 2 developer has BC govt docs that are not available to citizens of BC July 28,2000
NEB Info sessions on southern Gulf Islands July 28,2000
Opposition mounts from FVRD to CVRD along GSX Route July 2,2000
Williams reps scare San Juan County July 2,2000
NEB starts GSX public scoping process June 20, 2000
With Hydro beating at the door is it time to join CAPLA? June 10, 2000
Hands Across The Waters - Cobble Hill to Abbotsford June 1, 2000
Can the GSX pipeline be stopped? May 22, 2000
Fight The Pipe News May 17, 2000

About the GSX
Introduction to the GSX
Route Map
Cobble Hill (Manley Creek) Route Map

Manley Creek Park: A Pipeline Runs Through It

Williams/BC Hydro Georgia Strait Crossing Website
Exploratory Drilling off Manley Creek Park May 18, 2000
Announcing Selection of the Manley Creek South Route May 4, 2000
Media Release Backgrounder May 4, 2000 (Word document)
Announcement of Williams/Hydro partnership to build GSX Sept 29,1999
Regulatory & Approval Process
About the Regulatory & Approval Process
Lay Guide to the NEB Environmental Assessment August 8, 2000 Download
Citizens Guide to the Canadian Environmental Process (CEAA) August 16, 2000

National Energy Board
Index of Georgia Strait Pipeline Crossing (GSX) documents
Last day for submissions on scope of environmental assessment is August 28, 2000 June 30, 2000
Scoping Package June 2000 (Note: BIG pdf document)
The Memorandum of Understanding itself between NEB, DFO, EAO re GSX May 18, 2000
Preliminary submission for proposed GSX March 21, 2000

Environmental Assessment Office
BC Environmental Assessment Office
EAO Georgia Strait Crossing Project

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Landowner Information

Cdn Alliance of Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAPLA) June 10, 2000


Introduction to the GSX

BC Hydro has teamed up with an American company, Williams, to build a pipeline from Sumas, across the northern edge of Washington State to Cherry Point, under the Strait of Georgia, then ashore on Vancouver Island in Cobble Hill. It is proposed that it join the Centra Gas pipeline at the north-western end of Shawnigan Lake. Thereafter, the gas is to be routed through Centra's natural gas pipe artery north to Campbell River, Port Alberni, and Duncan, to fuel three electrical generation plants. In Washington State, the GSX will also deliver gas to industrial and commercial customers.  There does not at this time appear to be a physical connection proposed for  Sumas Energy 2.

Residents of Cobble Hill, the Gulf Islands, and Washington State are concerned about the pipeline.  Concerns range from pipeline safety, particularly in earthquake zones such as the entire GSX route.  Landowners are concerned with land alienation and compensation.

The pipeline is a component of BC Hydro's strategy to meet future demand for electricity on Vancouver Island and elswhere in BC, by burning natural gas. As a non-renewable resource, a fossil fuel, and a very large contributor to greenhouse gases, natural gas is far from an ideal or acceptable source of energy.

Natural gas is a major contributor to global warming, and BC Hydro's strategy needs to be discussed in the context of Canada's Kyoto Protocol commitment to reduce greenhouse gases; and British Columbia's participation in that effort.

The economics of the project are unexamined and suspect.  Evidence of rising demand is unconvincing, but the radical swings and increases in the price of natural gas will result in electricity that will likewise have to be sold for uncontrollable rates.  This could place British Columbia's economy in sever jeopardy, and threaten the livelihoods and well-being of all British Columbians.

For more information, read the information backgrounder at http://www.sqwalk.com/GSX_overview.pdf, and browse the Sqwalk website.


Georgia Strait Crossing Project Team to undertake geotechnical investigations south of Boatswain Bank, Vancouver Island, May 18, 2000
Media release. Geotechnical studies, which involved drilling from a barge offshore, (and from a truck-mounted rig onshore?), occurred between Sunday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 31. Folks, drive to the end of Hutchinson, through Arbutus Ridge, to Manley Creek Park. Walk down the trail through the park, to the sea. Beautiful, isn't it. You're on the edge of the pipeline route. To minimize the obvious disruption, Hydro is exploring the possibility of punching the pipe through with minimal surface digging.


The Regulatory and Approval Process

In Canada, the National Energy Board (NEB) has jurisdiction and authority to approve the GSX. In the USA, it's the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The NEB is conducting its environmental assessment on behalf of itself, the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Read the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for details of that agreement - this is a useful document. Read it. The MOU provides for written and oral public input on the environmental assessment itself, and gives the public, and the provincial EAO, opportunities to comment on the scope of the assessment.

The NEB has announced a schedule for preparation of the draft scope of the environmental assessment. They are holding two information sessions to describe the process and explain the opportunities for public involvement in both the environmental assessment, and the regulatory process:

Monday, June 26, 2000, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Best Western Cowichan Valley Inn
6474 Trans Canada Highway, Duncan, BC

Tuesday, June 27, 2000, 7:00 - 10:00 pm
Dunsmuir Lodge
1515 McTavish Road, Sidney, BC

The deadline for public comments on the draft scope of the assessment is given as July 7, which is a mere 10 days following the information sessions. Given that the proponents of the project are professionals who have been working on this project for a year or more, and the public is only just being brought into the discussion - well, this is clearly unbalanced, unfair, and biased heavily in favour of the project proponents (Hydro and Williams).

While no deadline is stated for the project approval, the proponents are still stating completion in 2002.

In the United States, the FERC process is similar to the NEB process. It does not appear that an application has been submitted to FERC, although the GSX website said that Williams intended to file this application by the second quarter of 2000. If you have more information, please let us know.

NEB info sessions on the southern Gulf Islands

The NEB held information sessions in late July on Pender Island (July 18), Salt Spring Island (July 19) and Saturna Island (July 20). Accounts of those visits were submitted to SqWALK! by a number of contributors:

Attendance was best on Saturna Island, good on Pender Island, and not too many came to the Salt Spring event. Of course, holding these sessions midweek, and in the case of Pender, in the middle of the afternoon, is a pretty good way of ensuring that many who might otherwise come, cannot.

The active community on SSI is also fully engaged in the battle to try to keep some trees on the island, despite the best efforts of Texada Land Corp and Manulife to rape the island for profit.


  • impact to the islands and marine life
  • benefit to islands
  • illogic of environmental assessment preceding a feasibility study, requiring lots of up front leg work by opponents without a proof of technical/economic viability.
  • Islands Trust role
  • pipeline bisects the proposed Orca Pass Marine Stewardship area
  • Saturna turnout was deadset against the GSX
  • Senator and Saturna resident Pat Carney was reportedly taking her concerns directly to David Anderson
  • why not use the existing pipeline/route?
  • does anyone actually want the pipeline (as opposed to a few corporations and governments)?
  • what data is there on sound frequencies and their effects on marine life?
  • what consideration for threatened species, homing rivers, etc.?
  • how valid are cost arguments with rising gas prices?
  • given the level of public concern, an Independent Panel Review is a more appropriate process than the current Comprehensive Studies Report
As almost an aside, when one of the panel said ... that it was a complex area and issue I asked why, then, might a pipeline be approved in relatively short order, when a National Marine Conservation Area first mooted some 20 years ago for the Southern Gulf Islands (and perhaps a trans-boundary area) is still in a pre-consultative phase and might not be achieved for another ten years because of those same jurisdictional and usage complexities. This set the DFO rep scribbling and caught the attention of everyone. Jill Taylor
Thanks to Peter Ronald, Jill Taylor, and Susie Washington Smyth for these notes.


Island quake

VICTORIA - A minor earthquake rattled dishes on northern Vancouver Island Tuesday afternoon.

The quake measured 4.7 on the Richter scale. It was centred about 23 kilometres south of Gold River.

Scientists at the Pacific Geoscience Centre say the earthquake hit at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. It was felt from Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island across to Campbell River, on the east side.

No injuries or damages have been reported.

CBC Radio 1, Vancouver, August 2, 2000


This souffle is rising - in anger and mistrust

On August 23, the Bellingham Herald reported that the woman who was briefly the "face of the GSX" in Washington State, had resigned. She'd been pelted with eggs in a supermarket parking lot, decided the experience was too frightening and unpleasant, and her company withdrew from their arrangement with Williams. Read the Herald article, and have a look at the official GSX public relations brochure that introduced her.

SqWALK! does NOT endorse this kind of activism. It is assault. It singles out individuals and victimises them in a way that is humiliating, terrifying and illegal.

However, the proponents of the GSX are secretive, aggressive, and so far have been unwilling to establish any real dialogue with the communities through which they seek to push their pipeline. BC Hydro and Williams are using jackboot tactics to obtain access to lands they are not welcome on, hiding information and facts from project critics. This is precisely the kind of behaviour that elicits such enraged public reaction.

They address concerns about safety with empty platitudes, when the record is clear - natural gas pipelines are bombs in our backyards. Is it possible to engineer a pipeline to be zero-risk in an earthquake zone, which is what should be the case with the GSX? Of course not.

A few eggs are not much, unless you are the unfortunate person who was the target. But they are certainly an indication of how much anger, fear, and mistrust there is of the GSX proponents, Hydro and Williams. From the Fraser Valley, where the public outcry against Sumas Energy 2 has been heard in Olympia and Victoria; to Bellingham where the eggs were thrown, through San Juan County and the Gulf Islands where communities and regional governments alike have registered their concern and opposition to the project; and finally in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island where virtually every farmer and landowner on the GSX route has signed a document stating their opposition to the GSX, and some have put up signs to broadcast their opposition - there is a powerful public antagonism to the GSX. It won't stop at a few eggs, if the proponents, governments, and review boards (NEB and FERC), don't take the expressions of concern seriously.


Hydro and Williams lay another egg

Hydro and Williams publish a public relations brochure for the Georgia Strait Crossing project. In August, for the first time, they mounted a public relations campaign in Washington State, as well as in Canada. For the American edition, they printed a glowing announcement of their community and project relations person, Kathy Anderson. The Canadian edition contains a listing of information sessions on the Gulf Islands.

Last week, Ms. Anderson was pelted with eggs in a parking lot (read the Bellingham Herald article here and SqWALK!s comments above). As noted in the article, Ms. Anderson's employer respected their employee too much to subject her to that kind of harrassment, and they withdrew from the arrangement with Williams and Hydro.

For Hydro and Williams, this was another public relations coup. Now they had a brochure announcing Ms. Anderson, and no Ms. Anderson. Well, the brochure has disappeared from the project website (http://www.georgiastrait.twc.com/what's%20New.htm). It's been replaced with the Fall edition. Guess what? The fall edition is the August edition, but Ms. Anderson has been replaced with the Gulf Islands info session schedule.

Not completely replaced. Look closely at the contents listed at the top of the brochure. See "New Landowner Representative"?  Didn't quite remove all traces of Ms. Anderson.

We can hope that other statements made by Hydro and Williams have more permanence. Hmm. Let's see.

How about, "We don't need another pipeline to serve the Campbell River and Port Alberni cogens" (1997-98) compared to "We need the GSX to service ICP and PAC."

How about, "B.C.Hydro's Power Supply group plan to build a plant near Duncan"(1999) compared to the more recent, "location undecided".

Or, "need the GSX to meet growing demand for electricity on Vancouver Island " when their own graphs tell the truth about level, perhaps even declining demand, over the last ten years.

And the big lie that will cost British Columbians for a long time, that will make a trio of aluminum boats look like three little dinghies: "natural gas is the lowest-cost option"!


Info Session on Saturna Island goes very badly

A Saturna Island resident reports that the marine route information session on Saturna Island didn't go well. All 40 of the residents who came, were upset and offended at the meeting, and went away angrier and more frustrated than they arrived.

Held as one of a set of marine route information sessions, on the Gulf Islands and in Sidney, GSX proponents BC Hydro and Williams will present these sessions as evidence that they "consulted" with the communities along the route. (See the meeting schedule here.)

Some excerpts:

The project engineer did most of the speaking...

Wayne Bourque from Parks Canada attended too. They have a big interest in Saturna because they will eventually own 50% of our island as part of the Gulf Islands National Park.

In terms of the tone of the evening it was basically negative from the outset. Even though the event is building as "Public Consultation", the guys from BCHydro came not prepared to consult (it was a show and tell) but to tell us what a good job they are doing and that the scope of the project is just fine and that they don't have to worry because CEAA and the NEB don't want a panel review.

Concerning environmental studies on the marine component none were shared ... That being said I am certain there will be serious questions about specifics. There were lots of questions about fishing areas and crabbing and we got the lecture on crab ladders etc. I asked about how they intended to ensure ecological integrity in the proposed marine conservation area and in those areas adjacent to the new park. The ... guy from BCHydro in charge of env. studies told me not to worry ... that he had talked to Parks Canada and that they had no problem with what Hydro is proposing. At that point Wayne Bourque (Parks Canada) got up and said that the only discussions which had occured were on the conceptual level and that Parks Canada as an intevenor intended to review the data before making any decision.

The two guys from Williams, Butch from Texas and Sandor Karpathy told us about their mapping of the sea bottom and how they are using that mapping to site the pipeline. Present plans are to bury to cable from Van. island to the top of Moresby island and then they may bury it a bit more and from there east to the mainland it will be on the seabed with "effective" crab ladders (shades of the fences alongTranscanada highway through Banff) or be "bridged using very specific criteria" (they didn't tell us about the criteria). They mentioned risk analyses and hazard analysis but gave us no details.

About regulation of Greenhouse Gases and other air quality issues? John Duffy said "The only thing is the Kyoto accord of which Canada is one of 37 signatories but it needs 147(?) to be ratified which is unlikely so it doesn't really have any effect for curbing GHG. There is nothing else required by regulation "(NEVER MIND Canada's commitment to VOLUNTARY ACTIONS)

I have heard project engineers invoke their god given right to develop oil and gas reserves ... and I have heard project engineers say many other dumb things but I have never been to a session like we experienced on Saturna. ....


Whidbey Island Orca Pipeline Event, October 18

Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 16:27:51 -0700
From: Jennifer Lail jlail@whidbey.com
Subject: Save the Date: Pipeline Event

===== A message from the 'whatnext' discussion list =====

We'll send out more information on this later, but wanted folks to know that Susan Harper of Fuel Safe Washington, and one of the members of Gov. Locke's new Citizens Committee on Pipeline Safety, will be on the island to speak at an event hosted by People for Puget Sound and WEAN on Wednesday, October 18th, 7p at the Freeland Hall.

Hope everyone will join us. We should know more about the proposed ORCA pipeline plans then. . . Whatcom County has adopted a moratorium on any new pipeline construction until more is known about the new federal legislation regarding pipeline safety. We may want to advocate for a similar approach here in Island County. -Jennifer


Whidbey Environmental Action Network is a non-profit membership-based organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the native biological diversity of Whidbey Island and the Pacific Northwest.

If you are not already a member, please consider joining! Dues are $30 per year. Members receive our newsletter and periodic action alerts.

P.O. Box 53
Langley, WA 98260
phone (360) 221-7838
fax (360) 221-2161
email: jlail@whidbey.com


Koksilah River Crossing

The route maps for the GSX show the pipeline running south of the Koksilah River to a point a few kilometers west of Shawnigan Lake on Renfrew Road.  The connection point is obvious - the existing CentraGas line surfaces there for maintenance, possibly for pig access, and for flaring.   This is point 1 on the map.

This is perhaps two kilometers south of the Koksilah River. Follow the pipe bed no
rth on foot to the river, or drive north (to the last place where the road and the old rail bed come close to each other - you'll have to walk from there), to the river.  Point 2 on the map.

You are
facing the Koksilah Trestle, a magnificent legacy of the sweat of an earlier time on Vancouver Island. Can't you hear the metal shrieking and the steam engine pounding as the trains roll up the bridge and over the river?

Now stroll down the trail that goes off from the
viewpoint. You will come out at the south end of the CentraGas crossing of the river. This thing, engineered in 1988 or thereabouts, using whatever standards were in effect at the time, is apparently how the gas from the GSX will move north.

Those rubber shocks don't instill a lot of confidence, do they, in the
face of a modest earthquake. And can't you picture all that steel flexing and stretching?

Click on the map and pictures for larger versions.  In the large version of the photo on the right, you can see the awesome Koksilah Trestle in the background.  


Marine Route Info Session Another PR Disaster for GSX Proponents Hydro and Williams
BC Hydro and Williams rolled 15 or more people into the Kerry Park Rec Centre in Mill Bay this evening (September 20) for the last in their popular Marine Route series of info sessions.
120 residents of the communities affected by the GSX rolled themselves in.  They all seemed to be pretty angry, skeptical, and opposed to the GSX from the start. 
I won't review the whole session now - it's too late and I'm getting uglier by the day because of GSX sleep loss.  But I did want to let you know that it did not go well for Hydro and Williams.  Of the four public sessions that have been held in the Cowichan Valley (five, if you count the very first session, at Arbutus Ridge in February, at which we were mainly shocked), this one was every bit as unreceptive to the GSX as the others. 
Angrier?  More opposed?  Hard to tell.  But definitely a lot of anger and solid opposition.  And like all the other public gatherings, there was not a single voice of support from the floor.
The message, if a single message could be taken from the meeting by Hydro, is for Hydro themselves to recommend a panel review of the project.  Only then will the full discussion of environmental impacts, natural gas strategy, energy policy in British Columbia take place.  Better still that Hydro simply withdraw the GSX proposal, and ask the provincial government to start up a public energy policy review commission. 
The Raging Grannies, a surprise to just about everyone, were a special treat.  And there was a lot of good humour, even if the Hydro and Williams reps looked like they were being roasted alive.
Arthur Caldicott


Anderson defends himself
VANCOUVER - Federal Environment Minister David Anderson says he can't take a strong stand against the controversial Sumas-Two electrical plant near Abbotsford because of Canada's bad pollution record.

'They're unaware that we've been working on this'
Anderson says while the U.S. project will pollute the Fraser Valley, it won't be as bad as similar projects in Port Alberni and Campbell River, which have been approved by the B.C. government.

Anderson denies Ottawa has been inactive on issue. Many residents and politicians in the Fraser Valley have been critical of the federal silence. They have challenging Anderson to speak up and take action to protect Canadian air and water quality.

Anderson says his critics obviously didn't know his officials have been on the job behind the scenes. "The reason that they think we're being quiet is that they're unaware that we've been working on this since December of last year," he says. "And in fact it was the second of May of this year that we sent out our first series of objections to the American authorities on this proposal."

Officials from Washington State are holding hearings on the Sumas-Two project. So far, neither Canadian nor B.C. officials have taken part in the process.

However, B.C. Environment Minister Joan Sawicki is now saying she will appear at the hearings. They wrap up at the end of the month.

The Sumas-Two project involves a huge co-generation plant in Sumas, Washington, just south of Abbotsford. Critics say it would make the already bad air quality problem in the Fraser Valley much worse.

CBC British Columbia, September 22, 2000 www.cbc.ca