This site has a bunch of information regarding issues surrounding the environment, political energy news, and so on. Click on the posts below to find out more…
Canadian Environmental Issues
As the Communications Director for the US- based environmental group, Earth Now, my superiors urged me to head up to Northern Ontario to meet with my counterpart in a Canadian environmental advocacy agency.
The rationale behind the trip being to check out the Canadian government‘s efforts to help the environment because supposedly, Canadian groups were enjoying more success in getting their government to act than us US slackers.
Someone forgot to tell me that as a native Floridian, December in Northern Ontario makes your face somehow disappear, because from the time I set foot off the plane in Ontario until getting back home, my face was completely numb from the bitter, biting cold. A week back in the warm Florida sun, my hands were thawed enough to sit and write the report of what I found.
Many Canadian environmentalists believe that Canada will play an enormous role in supplying the US, and many other countries around the world with fresh drinking water, oil, and minerals as these natural resources dry up around the globe. Their big fear is that the Harper administration will squander these resources so badly that there will be little left for Canadians themselves, let alone the world.
Case in point, Harper’s ongoing negotiations to build a pipeline through Northern Alberta through British Columbia to transport oil to China could spell disaster for rivers and freshwater systems.
Conversely, a handy little pipeline to export oil to the world’s fastest growing economy could provide such an economic boon to Canada that the government could afford to buy every Canadian citizen their very own electric car.
Air pollution in metro areas.
Canadian cities are not immune to the air pollution that plagues large metropolitan areas around the world. Josh Wingrove, of The Ottawa Globe and Mail, details how an audit by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development shows an alarming failure of the Harper administration to be on pace to meet the 17% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels as pledged to the international community in the Copenhagen Accord.
Even though these target numbers were set by the Harper administration, Canada is on pace to fall drastically short. Furthermore, there is no plan in place to address the shortfalls, and that most of the progress made at this point has been because of provincial efforts and had nothing to do with any measures from Ottawa.
The Green Energy Act
One of the measures that attempts to address the excessive carbon emissions is The Green Energy Act. Depending on who you ask, the act is either a smashing success or a colossal failure. The Ontario Ministry of Energy touts the measure as “sparking growth in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectricity and bioenergy.” Clearly, an indisputable benefit of the measure is saving Ontarians more than 1,900 megawatts of peak demand electricity in the last ten years, or the equivalent of taking 600,000 homes off the grid.
However, as reported in the Financial Post by Ross McKitrick and Tom Adams, the end of 2014 brought with it another increase in electricity rates, bumping the province to having some of the highest rates of any province with no relief in sight. Price is an issue, and with the actual benefit to the environment extremely arguable, the question becomes are the alternative energy sources being pursued and mandated worth the costs.
Typical of government types, the officials that support the GEA enjoy pretending that the astronomical rate of electricity has nothing to do with the closing of the coal-fired plants and investment renewable energy sector to provide power. Opponents, however, insist that the wind, solar, and biomass energy companies charge the Ontario Power Authority a much higher than market charge for electricity, which in turn, is slapped onto the consumer bills.
My time in the frozen tundra taught me one thing. If I ask 100 people if the Canadian government is successfully protecting the environment, I will get 100 different answers.
Many accuse Harper of worrying too much about the economy and not protecting the environment with the constant additions of new pipeline posing a significant risk to the water supply. Alternately, ask a business person, and Harper is enacting so many environmental regulations that it is hampering business and inflating operating costs. Ask an Ontarian, and they will say, heck with the environment, just lower my electric bill!
As with anything, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle of the opinions. The government tries, but does not do enough. The environmental groups lobby and the oil industry pushes back. All in all, it sounds a lot like America.
Ho, J.C. (n.d.). What is the most serious environmental problem facing Canadians today?. Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-serious-environmental-problem-facing-Canadians-today
McKitrick, R., Adams, T. (2014). How green energy is fleecing Ontario electricity consumers. Retrieved from http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/how-green-energy-is-fleecing-ontario-electricity-consumers
Ontario Ministry of Energy. (2015). The Green Energy Act. Retrieved from http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/en/green-energy-act/
Wingrove, J. (2014). Scathing report details Canada’s environmental shortfalls. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-lagging-on-emissions-goals-environment-watchdog-warns/article20959840/?page=all
McGuinty Scraps Offshore Wind Projects
In a suspiciously timed announcement late Friday afternoon, the Ontario government declared a moratorium on any future offshore wind power projects.
The McGuinty government has long championed wind power as part of their vaunted Green Energy Act, which has seen taxpayers subsidize expensive renewable energy projects and international conglomerates awarded billions to build them.
The government cited environmental concerns as the reason for the moratorium on development, even though similar concerns never stopped them from previously building on sensitive watersheds and farmland. With provincial elections looming, many critics believe that the real reason for the reversal is so that the government can avoid having to deal with a touchy ballot issue.
Additionally, the Toronto Star reports that the announcement was rushed out on Friday afternoon so that the flip-flop would be lost in the barrage of news relating to the crisis in Egypt.
TerraPower Eyes A New Kind of Nuclear Power
Any new business venture gains a little bit of clout when Bill Gates gets on board. Washington-based company TerraPower is developing a new form of nuclear power, and their efforts have attracted the investment of the billionaire Microsoft founder.
The experimental nuclear technology that TerraPower is pursuing, called ‘The Traveling Wave Reactor’, was first proposed in the 1950’s, but has seen little in the way of research or development in the decades since.
Nuclear Power Facts:
The Differences Between Ontario and Japan
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Northern Japan has once again put the question of nuclear safety into the limelight.
While it’s still too early to tell what long term effects the emergency at Fukushima will have on the surrounding region and population, one thing is certain: this is an…
Google Investing in Bright Future
Google announced today that it is investing $168 million US into a new solar power installation being built in California’s Mojave Desert. To date the company has invested over $250 million US into renewable energy projects and research around the world.
Called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), the massive 3,600 acre facility will be made up of 347,000 mirrors (heliostats) and multiple 450 foot tall solar receiver towers. When completed in 2013, the solar power plant will produce nearly 400 megawatts of power, making it the most powerful solar energy facility of its kind.
Polar Melting will lead to Higher Sea Levels
by 2100, Report
A worrying report released by the Arctic Council backed Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) estimates that worldwide sea levels could rise as much as 1.6 meters or 5.25 feet over the next 89 years. The report follows a six year warming trend in the far North, which include some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded in the region.
The Arctic Council is a group made up of top scientists and government officials from eight Arctic nations, including Canada, who see changes in the polar region as having the most effect on them. If scientists are to be believe (and they should be!), the council member states have reason to be worried: reports indicate that warming in the Arctic is occurring at about twice the world average.
PC Leader Hudak Will Erase Liberal Energy Plan
With a Fall election looming, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak took to the microphone and revealed his plan for Ontario’s energy sector. Specifically, he wanted people to know what would remain of the Liberals’ controversial Green Energy Act and Samsung power deal: if he is elected, nothing.
Ontario Government’s Boring Project is a Step
in the Right Direction
After $1.6 billion, five years of digging and 10.2 kilometers of solid bedrock, the gargantuan tunnel boring machine – known as Big Becky – finally broke through deep below the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The Niagara Tunnel Project is the final part of a series of upgrades by Ontario Power Generation designed to increase the capacity and efficiency of the Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric generation complex.
In what could possibly be billed as one of the most expensive photo-ops in Ontario history, Premier Dalton McGuinty was on hand as the 4000-tonne Big Becky completed her subterranean journey on May 13th. McGuinty cited the tunnel project as a triumph for his government’s renewable energy initiatives, despite it being over-budget and two years behind schedule.
Risky FITs Around The World:
Popular Feed-In Tariffs Need Rethinking
Ontario has joined sixty three countries around the world by creating a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program to help develop the province’s infant wind and solar industries. A FIT is a fixed price for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy generated and Premier Dalton McGuinty is offering $0.42 for solar power. Investors love the mark-up, citizens…
A Shell Game Of Employment Stats
A recent Toronto Star editorial called Tim Hudak’s decision to cancel McGuinty’s Green Energy Act ‘irresponsible’ in part because it would cost Ontario jobs. And it seems to make sense. Why, just this morning, the Premier’s office sent out a press release saying that 700 new clean energy projects have created 2000 jobs. Yeah, it…
Germany Phasing out Nuclear Power by 2022
In an effort to appease the growing anti-nuclear sentiment amongst the German population, the ruling CDU party recently outlined their plan to phase out nuclear power by the 2022. Then came the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan earlier this year, and the resulting emergency at the Fukushima nuclear reactors.
In the wake of the crisis, Merkel enacted a three month moratorium on the extension plan, essentially putting off the need to make a final decision while the situation in Japan continues and regional elections in Germany were underway.
Subsequently, plant after plant was taken off-line for safety checks and two commissions were set up to evaluate nuclear safety and ethics.
Lower Churchill Project
This fresh, young development has been attracting a lot of attention. After being refused transmission lines usage from Bad Boy Quebec, she found herself a partner in Mom-approved Nova Scotia.
Now nothing will stop her from providing a huge amount of clean, renewable power for Newfoundland and beyond.
Ontario Pays $1B Energy Rebate;
Enviro Watchdog Barks
Energy prices have soared sixteen per cent in 2010 and will increase another thirty per cent by 2014.
The province has invested in several strategies to encourage users to conserve power such as time of use pricing and smart meters but those strategies, regardless of their effectiveness or necessity, have angered Ontarians.
Is Canadian Power the Answer to American Energy Woes?
In a speech given at the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance Conference in New Brunswick earlier this week, former ambassador David Wilkins said that Canadian energy is the answer to the United States’ growing dependence on unfriendly nations.
While serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2005 – 2009 during the Bush administration, Wilkins worked to further strengthen US-Canada business ties. He continues to advocate for increased trade between the two nations – who are already the world’s largest trading partners – particularly in the energy sector.
Japan Proves Less Nuclear Means
More Air Pollution
Since the devastating tsunami in Japan, the country has chosen to shut down most of its nuclear plants and cast a doubt on how it will meet its energy needs.
This month, Kansai Electric, the country’s second largest power producer, asked consumers to cut their summer consumption by 15 per cent to avert blackouts. Despite…
Which Is More Radioactive:
A Nuclear Plant Or A Coal Plant?
This Spring, Chancellor Angela Merkel buckled under anti-nuclear sentiment and reversed a nation-wide nuclear plant extension. The plants, which would have remained open until 2036, will be shuttered by 2022.
A few weeks later, Merkel announced that coal would replace nuclear power’s 28% share of electricity production and that Germany would be building twenty-six new…
Canada’s Nuclear Energy
Crown Corporation to be Sold
Canada Limited now finds itself on the Harper government’s chopping block. The AECL’s commercial reactor development division will be sold to SNC-Lavalin for the bargain basement price of $15 million dollars and the promise of future royalties.
But why is federal government selling one of the nation’s most significant crown corporations for so little?
CANDU Reactor Technology
When you’re on the prowl for power, you want a nuclear reactor that not only looks good but can also have an intelligent conversation. That’s why CANDU is our girl. These reactors are Canadian designed and built.
Introduced in the 1950s, they turned the industry on its head by making a simple change: they use heavy water to moderate the reaction. Heavy water absorbs more heat which better prevents meltdowns.
Heat Wave Survival Guide
We get the hint, planet, you don’t want us around anymore. Well, we’re not going without a fight and we will use our greatest creation to defend against you, malls. Here some other ideas as well.
Electricity: It’s the devil. Almost everything that uses it makes heat, sometimes a lot of it. Dryers should be…
American Renewable Energy Firm says
Green Energy Act Violating NAFTA
Texas-based Mesa Power Group is in the process of filing a formal complaint with the government of Canada, alleging that elements of Ontario’s Green Energy Act are in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The renewable energy firm is owned by energy billionaire T.
Boone Pickens, an oil and gas magnate, turned unlikely champion of alternative energy. His company believes that the Ontario government made unfair changes to feed-in-tariff (FIT) provisions of the Green Energy Act at the last minute, which cost Mesa Power two wind energy contracts in western Ontario…
The New National Energy Program
Last week, Energy Ministers from Canada’s provinces and territories joined the Federal Minister of Resources for a four day conference in Kananaskis, Alberta.
The goal of this conference was to begin conversations that will result in a National Energy Strategy. Every energy and public policy organization has their own definition about what that means so…