Robert F. Kennedy Jr. brought some pointed criticism to
Whistler Wednesday, blasting British Columbia for Bill 30, legislation that “subverts
Kennedy, the son of former senator and presidential candidate
Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy, is chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper, a
non-profit organization devoted to preserving the Hudson River and its
He spoke to about 750 people in Whistler about environmental
infrastructure at an event to commemorate the 20
the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE).
Kennedy touched on many environmental issues impacting the United
States and saved some of his most biting criticism for the provincial
government, chastising it for approving Bill 30 in 2006.
“When you see the destruction of the environment you will also
see the subversion of democracy,” he said. “The Squamish (community) said we
don’t want these hydro power plants in our district, the province has a rule
saying it can’t make a decision at the locality.
“It has to be the decision of the province and put it into the
hands of corporations like the General Electric company, which secretly own
half the hydro plants, over 700 plants that are going up all over this
Bill 30, which Kennedy referred to as “Rule 30,” didn’t unfold
quite as he told it in his talk. Bill 30 was a legislation brought forward in
2006 that amended section 121 of the Utilities Commission Act, which gives
authority to the British Columbia Utilities Commission to oversee all public
utilities in British Columbia.
Section 121 of the Act states that nothing under the Community
Charter or the Local Government Act, legislations that accord powers to
municipalities and other local governments, can supersede the authority of the
Bill 30 amended that portion of the act to say that local
government land use decisions cannot stop construction of a public utility
The facility must also meet certain conditions: it must be
situated on Crown land; obtain an electricity purchase agreement with B.C.
Hydro, Powerex or FortisBC; and meeting necessary federal and provincial authorizations.
Kennedy’s mention of “700 plants” also wasn’t quite accurate.
Opponents of IPPs often draw attention to the number of water licenses that
have been granted on B.C.’s rivers, the first step towards developing an
independent power producer.
Estimates have ranged anywhere between 500 and 700 water
license applications — but that doesn’t mean that power facilities will go up
wherever these license applications have been made.