Ontario’s big, green assisted economic suicide plan – by Kevin Libin (Financial Post – May 17, 2016)


“In assessing “investment changes in key economic sectors” resulting
from carbon pricing, the roundtable bluntly projected that spending
in the mineral and freight transport sector would virtually dry up due
to “reduced output” (refining, too, although that’s meant as a feature,
not a bug). Investment would also shrink in those “value-added”
industries that provincial governments love — from cars and paper
mills, to chemicals, metals, and building construction.”

To get an idea of what Ontario could look like a couple of decades out under Liberal energy minister Glen Murray’s “climate action plan” — which was revealed in detail in Monday’s Globe and Mail — who better to rely on than the man himself, Glen Murray?

Back in 2008, when he chaired the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, Murray — along with his acting CEO, Alex Wood, now executive director of the Ontario Climate Change Directorate — offered up a plan that looked remarkably similar to the new Liberal cabinet document. In fairness, the NRTEE document hardly offered the perniciously micro-managed prescriptions for people and businesses that Murray has graduated to now.

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Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan – by Adrian Morrow and Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – May 16, 2016)


TORONTO — The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces – in a bid to slash the province’s carbon footprint.

Ontario will begin phasing out natural gas for heating, provide incentives to retrofit buildings and give rebates to drivers who buy electric vehicles. It will also require that gasoline sold in the province contain less carbon, bring in building code rules requiring all new homes by 2030 to be heated with electricity or geothermal systems, and set a target for 12 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025.

While such policies are likely to be popular with ecoconscious voters, who will now receive government help to green their lives, they are certain to cause mass disruption for the province’s automotive and energy sectors, which will have to make significant changes to the way they do business. And they have already created tension within the government between Environment Minister Glen Murray and some of his fellow ministers who worry he is going too far.

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Ontario climate plan signals stormy future – Postmedia Network Editorial (Brantford Expositor – May 10, 2016)


Premier Kathleen Wynne is preparing to impose another suite of climate-related energy policies on the province. The Climate Change Action Plan promises to be even more expensive and more economically intrusive than the Green Energy Act. Which should give voters cause for alarm.

The public details of the plan that have emerged so far outline a policy thrust that sounds more like a war on personal mobility and the automotive industry than an environmental blueprint. It has already proved so concerning to the auto industry that the government has been forced to reassure the sector it means it no harm.

For instance, draft plans of the policy say Ontario intends to require that 80% of the province either walk, take transit or bike to work by 2050. How are they going to do that without imposing draconian new rules on where companies choose to invest and where people live? It’s hard to imagine that rule applying in Ontario counties where bus service is limited.

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Editorial If coal is too dirty for the U.S., why would Oakland build a dock to export it to Asia? (Los Angeles Times – May 9, 2016)


If coal is indeed king, it is the lord of a shrinking realm, which ought to be good news for the environment. With the nation’s electricity production shifting to cleaner sources of power, U.S. coal consumption is declining.

But here’s a problem: As major coal-mining companies watch their sales diminish domestically, they are struggling to find export markets in which they can continue to do business. And what have we really gained if coal that the U.S. doesn’t use just gets shipped to other countries for them to burn?

That’s the question that needs to be answered as officials consider a proposal to build a new coal port in Oakland as part of the conversion of a decommissioned Army base. There are a lot of problems with the proposal, which we’ll get to, but just from an environmental standpoint, it is a bad idea.

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Donald Trump Says He’ll Bring Back Jobs For Coal Miners But He’s Just Blowing Smoke – by Joe Romm (Think Progress.org – May 4, 2016)


Donald Trump markets himself as a business-savvy billionaire who will get American jobs back from countries like China. In the case of the coal industry, however, he appears to be just a very clueless politician making pro-pollution promises he can’t keep.

“I’m a free-market guy, but not when you’re getting killed,” he said recently at a rally in Carmel, Indiana. “Look at steel, it’s being wiped out. Your coal industry is wiped out, and China is taking our coal.” Huh? “China is taking our coal”? If China were taking much of our coal (in the form of U.S. exports) that would be great for coal jobs.

If Trump meant Chinese coal exports are taking away our coal market (i.e. potential U.S. sales overseas), then he is truly clueless about the coal business. China flipped from net coal exporter to net importer back in 2009 (!) and quickly became the world’s biggest importer.

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Climate protesters invade UK’s largest opencast coalmine – by Steve Morris (The Guardian – May 3, 2016)


Hundreds of environmental activists have invaded the UK’s largest opencast coalmine and halted operations across the vast site.

Dressed in red boiler suits, groups of protesters crossed barbed wire fences to gain access to Ffos-y-fran mine near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales. Some chained themselves to machinery, others lay across access roads. Dozens of protesters, joined by local people, also blockaded the entrance to the mine’s headquarters.

The action in Wales marks the start of a global wave of direct action coordinated by the group Reclaim the Power supporting a transition away from fossil fuels in 13 countries including Germany, South Africa, Indonesia and North America over the next two weeks.

Following a weekend of planning, protesters entered the site shortly after dawn on Tuesday.

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Is A Green World A Safer World? – by David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy – August 22, 2009)


A guide to the coming green geopolitical crises.

Greening the world will certainly eliminate some of the most serious risks we face, but it will also create new ones. A move to electric cars, for example, could set off a competition for lithium — another limited, geographically concentrated resource.

The sheer amount of water needed to create some kinds of alternative energy could suck certain regions dry, upping the odds of resource-based conflict. And as the world builds scores more emissions-free nuclear power plants, the risk that terrorists get their hands on dangerous atomic materials — or that states launch nuclear-weapons programs — goes up.

The decades-long oil wars might be coming to an end as black gold says its long, long goodbye, but there will be new types of conflicts, controversies, and unwelcome surprises in our future (including perhaps a last wave of oil wars as some of the more fragile petrocracies decline).

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Why Canada Needs Both Windmills And Pipelines – by Katrina Marsh (Huffington Post – April 28, 2016)


“The choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal.” Prime Minister Trudeau’s comment — spoken just before last March’s First Ministers’ meeting on climate change — has echoed through ministers’ speeches and media interviews ever since. Mr. Trudeau and his cabinet are walking a fine line between the need to control greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and the need for energy pipelines on the other.

Some people see a contradiction in this balancing act. The authors of the Leap Manifesto argue that growth in renewable energy technologies mean that there is “no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future.”

Yet the truth is that Canadians will continue to rely on fossil fuels even as we develop alternatives. This is not an ideological position to be argued over, but a fact that must be recognized.

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Sudbury forum: Lewis clan should be quiet – by Keith Lovely (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2016)


Keith Lovely of Coniston is a former executive with Local 6500 of the United Steelworkers in Sudbury.

I have been a member of the NDP since 1973. Since that time, I have worked in many elections and still give money to the party today. I am not a hit-and-miss member unlike some so-called spokespeople for the NDP who are continually in the news from Toronto criticizing the NDP even though they are not even members.

It has been my experience there have been times when (former Ontario NDP leader) Stephen Lewis from Toronto likes to tell us lowly people from the outlining areas what is good for us. I can recall in 1978, when USWA Local 6500 was on strike against Inco. The leadership in District 6 located in Toronto was against this strike. Inco had a large stockpile (of nickel); the membership in Sudbury was well aware of this, but voted to strike anyway.

Lo and behold, just a few weeks after the strike started, Stephen Lewis from his perch in Toronto wrote a scathing article in the Toronto Star calling members of the bargaining committee “Archie Bunkers” of the left and he criticized us for going on strike.

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Kathleen Wynne’s monstrous new utility to make Ontarians drive, live and work ‘green’ – by Kevin Libin (Financial Post – April 29, 2016)


Things just got a whole lot brighter in Canada for the dismal electric-car business. Word has leaked that the country’s largest province is preparing to help buy a plug-in vehicle or hybrid for millions of families across the province — or will at least force those families to buy one.

The details of how Ontarians are getting all those green vehicles weren’t clear in the confidential draft version of the Wynne Liberals’ “Climate Change Action Plan” leaked to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. But the goals are crystal clear: A promise to get 1.7 million low-emission cars on the roads in the next eight years, and pull seven million gas-powered cars off in the next 14.

That’s in addition to making sure 80 per cent of us ride transit or walk or bike to work, and ensuring the majority of the buildings in the province are “emissions-free” by 2050.

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OPINIION: 30 years after Chernobyl, Australia still hasn’t learned to leave uranium in the ground – by Josephine Vallentine (The Guardian – April 26, 2016)


Josephine Vallentine is a former senator for Western Australia and an anti-nuclear campaigner.

I distinctly remember the day I heard the news of the accident at Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear reactor complex. I was looking out the window of my tiny office in the old parliament house when the news came via ABC radio. I froze, immediately realising some of the nightmarish implications. But I could only anticipate a fraction of the results of such an accident, and of course, information was sketchy.

Fast forward to 2012, when I met the man who tried to raise the alarm, biologist Professor Alexander Sergeivich. He had immediately seen radiation levels skyrocket on his tracking instruments at the Novozybkhov Pedological College, 180km east of Chernobyl on that fateful day.

From the first hours that radiation escaped, the authorities ignored him but he continued tracking the levels. Eventually, his figures were believed but by then the word had got out via neighbouring countries.

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Coal’s demise threatens Appalachian miners, firms as production moves West – by Nathan Bomey (USA Today – April 20, 2016)


The crushing forces prevailing against the U.S. coal industry have triggered an unprecedented shakeout, sparking bankruptcies of the industry’s biggest players — such as last week’s collapse of Peabody Energy — and battering jobs in Appalachia even as mines in the west weather the fallout.

Peabody, the nation’s largest coal company, slid into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, just five years after its market value reached a high of $20 billion, as the oil and natural gas shale boom shifts the seat of power to miners in states such as Montana and Wyoming, where extracting coal is cheaper.

Peabody’s bankruptcy filing follows at least 50 in the industry over the last few years including Arch Coal in January and last year’s filings of Patriot Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Walter Energy.

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Australia’s Largest Mining Project Moves Forward, Despite Weak Demand for Coal – by Harry Pearl (Vice News – April 18, 2016)


When scientists from Australia’s Coral Bleaching Task Force conducted a series of aerial surveys of the Great Barrier Reef last month, they expected to find some damage from the world’s warming oceans around Lizard Island, north of Cooktown on Queensland’s northeast coast.

Instead they found a disaster of epic proportion. Ninety-five percent of more than 500 reefs stretching between Cairns and Papua New Guinea showed signs of bleaching — and some reefs appeared close to death.

The Great Barrier Reef had seen coral bleaching before, but this was the worst on record. Task force leader Terry Hughes, a professor of marine biology at James Cook University, described the group’s journey as the “saddest research trip of my life.”

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Alberta’s coal-power phaseout will begin in 2018, industry association says – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – April 1, 2016)


CALGARY – The phase-out of coal-fired power generation in Alberta will begin in 2018, not the mandated 2030 deadline, the president of the Coal Association of Canada said Thursday.

Speaking at the launch of a campaign asking cabinet ministers to consider the impact of the policy on coal-mining communities, Robin Campbell said coal-fired power companies would either scale-back their electricity production or shut down their plants earlier than expected to avoid carbon levies.

“The real date will be 2018,” Campbell said, adding that the phase-out of coal is “going to hurt small towns that are built around these mines and these power plants.”

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Clean, green and catastrophic – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – April 1, 2016)


Green and clean, that’s how politicians all over the world like to describe their national energy profiles. From Europe to North America to China, action plans and policies are in place, subsidies have been dispersed and new ideas are in constant production.

In Washington Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau brought his Liberal green message to Washington, telling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that green industries are the backbone of a strong economy.

Maybe it depends on what “backbone” means and on one’s definition of a “strong economy.” The latest news on green and clean energy fails to support the standard definitions of either concept.

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