Letters 6 – 15 – 2011

Another side of the James Bay Project  

I was puzzled by Angela Chagnon’s piece on Hydro-Quebec. The James Bay project, which had been launched by the Province in 1972 without consultation with the native peoples, was contested by the Cree Indians, who obtained an injunction ordering the suspension of the project on November 15, 1973. While the injunction was overturned a week later, and work resumed, the parties entered into negotiations which resulted in a landmark agreement, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, signed in November 1975, granting the Crees and Inuits exclusive rights to most of the lands involved. There were other benefits, including cash payments. Ultimately, the villages of the Crees were improved with sanitation systems, clinics and other facilities, and air strips were constructed. The Crees have their own airline! They also have a construction company and have a long term agreement with Hydro-Quebec to perform maintenance work on the hydro facilities. Subsequent to the completion of the James Bay project in the 80s, further agreements were made in 1995 and 1998, and a new, very comprehensive agreement was signed in 2002, which treated the additional hydroelectric installations in the southern part of James Bay on the Eastmain and Rupert rivers. Much of the reference material cited in Ms. Chagnon’s seems outdated, referring to disputes which have been settled.

The James Bay project itself has been a bonanza for Quebec. Providing 12,000 megawatts of power initially, the project has been expanded to provide several thousand additional megawatts. During construction, thousands of good-paying jobs were provided to Quebec citizens, peaking at over 18,000 jobs at the work sites. While I believe it is much preferable that Vermont Yankee be re-licensed, Hydro-Quebec is a reliable supplier of “green” power.

Disclaimer: I was in charge of construction management for the James Bay Project from 1973 to 1978.

P. G. Behr



End the bottle tax now

By fixing the small things we will be in a better position to fix the big things.

The bottle tax implies the people can’t or won’t recycle on their own. It says the people need to be taught to recycle and if they don’t they will be punished. As bad as this seems, it gets worse. There are divisions in society created by this law. There are the divisions between the people who bring their cans to a redemption center and the people who add their cans to blue recycle bins. Because of the bottle tax, there are divisions between the people who sort through the blue bins and the people who refuse to recycle in spite of this patronizing law. If there is any state that should not have a bottle tax for recycling it is Vermont! End the bottle tax now!

Matt Galloway


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