Newspaper article The Canadian Press

In Name of Clean Energy, Liberals Seek to Snuff out, Clean Up Coal-Fired Power

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

In Name of Clean Energy, Liberals Seek to Snuff out, Clean Up Coal-Fired Power

Article excerpt

Ottawa sets sights on coal-fired power


OTTAWA - The federal Liberal government once again earned the scorn of Saskatchewan's premier Monday with the next phase of its clean-energy strategy: pushing provinces to either phase out or clean up their coal-fired power plants.

The goal of the Trudeau government is to ensure 90 per cent of Canada's electricity comes from sustainable sources by 2030, up from 80 per cent now, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday.

Coal-fired units are among the largest sources of air pollution in the country, including sulphur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and mercury pollutants.

In addition, coal power in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia accounts for more than eight per cent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the new federal plan, provinces can choose to phase out coal entirely and replace it with lower-emitting sources -- as Alberta is doing -- or they can use carbon capture and storage technology, McKenna said.

At least in the case of Nova Scotia, however, the federal push seems like more of a gentle nudge.

The government is also permitting "equivalency arrangements" to support the transition from coal towards cleaner electricity sources. Nova Scotia will be allowed to use coal-fired plants beyond 2030 in recognition of the work the province has done to reduce greenhouse gases.

McKenna characterized it as working on tailor-made approaches to phasing out coal with the four affected provinces.

"Different provinces have different solutions," she told a news conference in Ottawa. "We are making sure that the solutions make sense for ratepayers, for workers and for the residents of the province."

Later in the day in Halifax, McKenna was alongside Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil as he announced plans to adopt a cap and trade system for industry, with the details to be worked out by 2018.

The province opted for cap and trade after McNeil had made it clear that he wanted no part of a proposed carbon tax, saying it would be too expensive for his province's mainly rural economy.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, another provincial leader who's no fan of the carbon-tax idea, said his province would evaluate the environmental and economic impact of the federal announcement. …

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