It’s obvious why Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government was anxious to discredit a report by the Fraser Institute last week that Ontario’s closure of its five coal-fired electricity plants did not significantly improve provincial air quality.
That decision cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars and helped to send electricity rates skyrocketing, because coal is a cheap form of energy.
The problem for the Liberals is that if the report by economists Ross McKitrick and Elmira Aliakbari is accurate, it discredits the Liberals’ claim their closure of the coal plants saved taxpayers $3 billion a year in health costs, $4.4 billion when environmental costs are added in.
The Liberals have always claimed closing Ontario’s coal plants has saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands of hospitalizations due to pollution.
The irony, however, is that the Wynne government’s attempt to refute the Fraser Institute report, brought it into direct conflict with what the government of her Liberal predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, told the public a decade earlier.
The Fraser Institute report contends that closing Ontario’s five coal plants didn’t significantly improve air quality, and that the Liberals knew it wouldn’t from the government’s own research at the time, because most of the problem was caused by cross-border emissions from 150 U.S. coal plants, many old and outdated, in the American midwest.
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