Friday, June 27, 2008

Linda Keen Gets Major International Award, Nobody Notices

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, we all remember Linda Keen. She was the scapegoat for AECL-MDS Nordion-MNR-GoC negligence and foul-ups. She was ignominiously fired as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission by Gary Lunn after her inconvenient whistleblowing precipitated last December's so-called isotope crisis. Keen remains a CNSC member and employee.

Well, our gal Linda has been presented with a top award from a top international professional association. Here's the announcement from the CNSC website.

Linda J. Keen Receives 2008 Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global Award

On May 28th, 2008, Linda J. Keen, was presented with the 2008 Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global Award in Marseilles, France. She received special recognition for excellence in communications, education, leadership and mentoring in the nuclear sector. Ms. Keen is currently a permanent full-time Member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and was formerly President and Chief Executive Officer. The CNSC is proud to acknowledge Ms. Keen as the first Canadian to receive this award.

Wowee! Sounds impressive. Run the maple leaf up the flagpole, stand and sing O Canada. Our home and native land oughta be proud. But, gee, this was almost a month ago and even avid nuke news watchers like ol' JB didn't see anything about it in the MSM or the blogs.

I only learned of this award a couple days ago through a nuclear issues email list subscription. If you go to the CNSC's home page, there's nothing there to indicate that one of their employees and their immediate past-president has been honoured with a prestigious international award. Digging a little deeper, I tried to find the news item on the CNSC's News page. Nothing there, either, except a link to More News Releases. I was sure I'd dug deep enough into the CNSC site that finally, I'd find the News story that I quoted above. Hmmm... I found a page purporting to show all 2008 news releases. But, dang it, the story about Keen's dismissal was there but not a peep about Keen receiving this big award.

Be proud, Canajuns. Be proud of Linda Keen.

Just in case the CNSC decides to make the announcement completely unavailable, I've grabbed a screenshot.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ontario Eyed for Wind Turbine Factory, Thousands of Jobs Possible

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I been growsin' fer a few years now about how we're missin' the green collar job boat here in Canada -- especially, here in Ontariariario. One question that's been gettin' my goat is howcum we buy our wind generators from Denmark and Germany?

Well, it looks like some smart folks with deep pockets been askin' the same question. Looks promisin', sez I.
Ontario eyed for wind turbine factory
German company considers province for first North American facility, thousands of jobs possible
Jun 19, 2008 10:55 AM

Energy Reporter

A German maker of offshore wind turbines is targeting southern Ontario as the location for its first North American manufacturing plant, a venture that would create thousands of local jobs and inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the province's struggling economy.

Multibrid, majority owned by French nuclear giant Areva SA, made the announcement this morning alongside officials from Trillium Power Wind Corp., a local renewable-energy developer that plans to build a massive wind farm in Lake Ontario, about 15 kilometres offshore from Prince Edward County.

Trillium, which sees its Lake Ontario project as the beginning of a new industrial strategy for the province and a creator of high-value "green-collar" jobs, has established a wind-turbine buying consortium called Tai Wind committed to placing orders with a manufacturer that locates in Ontario.

"Ontario is perfectly placed to supply North America and even the world with offshore turbines, components, barges, and cranes needed to harness the resource wherever it may be," said John Kourtoff, president and chief executive of Trillium.

"That is the objective of the Tai Wind consortium. We want to build a solid economic foundation to make Ontario a world leader in renewable energy manufacturing and innovation."

Hundreds of megawatts of onshore wind farms have been built around Ontario, but job creation has been limited because the turbines are manufactured from plants in Europe or the United States. Industry experts say there is currently no industrial strategy in Ontario to complement Queen's Park's support for renewable energy development.

A decision by Multibrid to set up shop in Ontario would be welcome relief to a province hammered by the loss of manufacturing jobs, particularly in the automotive and forestry sectors.

Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, backs the initiative and sent a union representative to today's announcement to express his support.

Tai Wind members so far include Trillium and Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey, together representing potential orders for more than 300 offshore wind turbines. Kourtoff said the consortium is open to other North American offshore developers, which face long waiting lists if they rely on turbines to come from Europe.

Meanwhile, Multibrid said it is eager to discuss its role in Ontario with both the provincial and federal governments as it goes through its due diligence.

Compared to onshore wind projects, offshore wind represents only 1 per cent of global deployment. But Emerging Energy Research of Cambridge, Mass., predicts the offshore market is poised to take off and "has reached a critical juncture in its path toward large-scale deployment."

Earlier this month, the U.K. government unveiled an ambitious 12-year plan to deploy up to 7,000 offshore wind turbines in 11 ocean zones surrounding the British coastline - enough to supply electricity to every home in the U.K. when the wind is blowing strong.

Offshore wind projects require special engineering and underwater transmission, making them more expensive to build than onshore projects. But this added cost is largely offset by the stronger, more reliable and energy-packed winds that blow offshore.

In North America there are ocean-based offshore projects proposed off the coasts of New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and British Columbia.

But the Great Lakes represent a unique opportunity - they have strong winds, but unlike ocean projects the lake beds are shallower and the water is less turbulent, making for easier construction.

Helimax Energy Inc., in a report recently prepared for the Ontario Power Authority, estimated there are 64 offshore wind sites on the Ontario side of the Great Lakes representing 35,000 megawatts - enough to power all businesses, homes and industry in the province when the wind blows.

Trillium aims to be the first to develop on the Great Lakes. Its Lake Ontario project would likely require an investment of more than a billion dollars and would consist of 150 turbines placed in waters no deeper than 30 metres.

If built, it would be the largest wind project in North America and one of the largest offshore projects in the world.

"It's a significant opportunity that every jurisdiction in the world is looking for," said Kourtoff, adding that Multibrid's interest in locating in Ontario makes it more than just a green power play. "We're saying this is the first step to developing a sustainable, long-term green manufacturing economy."

But Trillium needs to strike a power-purchase agreement with the province for the project to move forward.

The power authority's current position is that offshore projects are too expensive to be part of its 20-year electricity plan.

Over the past decade, or so, Germany has added 200,000 green collar jobs to its economy. Green collar jobs now outnumber auto industry jobs in Germany.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Free Green Advice for Liberals: Make Lemonade

Whooee! There's an old saying that goes, "When life throws you lemons, make lemonade." It ain't too cryptic. If you get into a situation that looks bad, turn it around by making the best out of it. Right now, the Grits are on the receiving end of a truckload of lemons in the form of a trademark issue regarding the LPC's just-announced Green Shift policy and a private company that has been using that name for a few years. Talk of infringement, cease and desist letters and lawsuits is in the air.

Here are some of the products offered by
  • Non-toxic, Biodegradable, cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, bags, wrapping…
  • Non-toxic, Biodegradable cleaning products
  • Non-toxic, Non Green House Gas emitting fuels
  • Fair Trade, Shade Grown, Organic Coffees from around the world
  • Chlorine Free, High Post Consumer Recycled Content Paper Products – toilet paper, towels, nose tissues, envelopes… containers.. bags… boxes..
Just the sort of supplies that would come in handy at a summer BBQ. Say... aren't the Liberals planning to promote their Green Shift at scores of BBQs this summer? Wouldn't it be a good idea if those BBQs were as Earth-friendly as possible -- both for the sake of the planet and for the sake of public relations?

Do I need to connect the dots?

I'm involved with my local community hall. We use a fair amount of the types of products offered by Green Shift. I've been advocating that our hall look into using non-toxic, biodegradable, cups, plates, bowls, cutlery and cleaning products. The switchover to green products has been on the back burner, mainly due to my own laziness wrt sourcing this stuff. Thanks to the controversy surrounding the Green Shift moniker, I have a ready source and I'll be pushing for a trial purchase by our community hall.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Selling the Carbon Tax to Climate Change Skeptics

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just left a bigass comment over to Jennifer Smith's fine boog, Runesmith. She's got a good piece about the Green Shift and it attracted a comment from AGW skeptic and anti-Green Shifter Raphael Alexander. I like ol' Raph. He ain't afraid to wander into the Pergressive Boogeysphere and he don't bow down and worship the infallible King Steve like a lot o' Boogin' Tories do.

Here's how I tried sellin' the carbon tax to Rafe.

Even if you're an AGW skeptic, there are many advantages to the tax shift. GHG's are closely related to other pollutants. When we reduce GHG's we reduce many conventional pollutants at the same time. While you may doubt AGW, I suspect you accept the fact that pollution kills. "Bad air days" in the Great Lakes basin are killing people. The latest estimate of premature deaths due to poor air quality is 9,000+/year. The most conservative estimates put the figure at 3,000. Take your pick. Neither is acceptable.

Regarding the shift away from income tax, this is something most people should welcome. We should try not to penalize success and the less we tax income and profits, the more we encourage entrepreneurship and productivity. Some people call it "takin' care of business and workin' overtime."

With or without a carbon tax, energy costs are rapidly rising. This trend isn't going to reverse itself. Energy costs will rise and our dependence upon fossil fuels will further hurt our economy. Anything we can do to reduce our dependence on expensive fossil fuels will make us more competitive. A carbon tax is specifically aimed at reducing fossil fuel use. Whether that reduction is for the sake of the planet or for the sake of competitiveness and financial efficiency doesn't matter. Reduction of dependence is a worthwhile goal in and of itself.

I don't take much issue with the "tax on everything" characterization. So what? If you can get an offsetting reduced tax on income and the average Canadian is not clobbered with thousands of dollars in new taxes, it really doesn't matter if it is on everything. What matters is how many dollars you pay and how many dollars you get back via reduced income taxes or, in the case of low income Canadians, refundable tax credits.

The per capita average carbon footprint for Canadians is between 15-18 tonnes per year. If we are to pay $10/tonne, the average Canadian's net share would be about $200-$250 after some administrative and overhead costs are added.

Almost everyone can reduce their carbon footprint and, by doing so, reduce both their taxes and their outlay on fossil fuels. In a relatively fair system, those who use more than average fossil fuel will pay more tax. Those who use less than average, will pay less. Everyone will pay, though. Nobody denies that.

AGW aside, the planet's in trouble and our taxation system is designed to stifle income. We allow industry to use the shared atmosphere as a dump without any charge to them at all. Oil industry insiders refer to the practice of burning off waste gas at refineries as "sky dumping." Saves money. So what if it pollutes and kills.

Economist after economist is lining up behind a carbon tax. If you believed King Steve on income trusts, then you can believe he won't do exactly as Dion and most economists are suggesting... years from now. It's already too little, too late.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Elizabeth May Needs to be in TV Debates to Defend Against Dion

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I been agitatin' to get the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, into the TV debates when an election comes around. Up yonder at the top of my boog, you'll notice a yellow banner for Demand Democratic Debates. I'd be happy as Larry if you'd click it and sign the petition.

I was just leavin' a comment over to Jimmy Curran, the What Do I Know Grit's boog. It occurred to me that now, more than ever, Lizzie needs to be in the TV debates. Stephane Dion has set his sights on Green Party support. I wrote up a boog story about Dion wooing us treehuggers a coupla days ago. We need Lizzie up there on the TV remindin' voters that the real green party is the Green Party.

With Dion actively targeting us, it wouldn't be fair if we ain't got a voice defending us and tryin' to retain and build on the great support the Greens is experiencin'. The only party that has experienced significant growth since the last election is the Green Party. Now, Dion wants to scoop soft Green support away. I hope the fatcat TV execs on the Broadcast Consortium don't help him get away with it.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Green Party reveals detailed Green Tax Shift plan

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Lizzie's released the details of the Green Party Green Plan. Here's the full press release.
Media Release
For Immediate Release
June 18, 2008

Green Party reveals detailed Green Tax Shift plan

OTTAWA – The Green Party today announced a detailed plan to implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax in Canada. After releasing an outline of the Green Party approach to action on climate in 2006 (Green Party Green Plan or GP Squared) and more detailed climate plans in 2007 (Averting Climate Catastrophe and Vision Green), the Green Party is now making public greater levels of detail on a fully-costed carbon tax plan.

“By taxing carbon at the rate of $50 per tonne, the Green Party will raise $40 billion for the federal treasury. Three quarters of this revenue will come from business and industry,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “This will enable us to provide tax relief to Canadians by cutting income and payroll taxes, bringing in income splitting, increasing support to low-income and rural families and helping students with crippling student loans."

Ms. May said the Green Party’s revenue-neutral carbon tax is not designed to make Canadians pay more in taxes but will shift taxes onto undesirable aspects of society, like emissions and pollution, and away from desirables like jobs and income. Most Canadians will experience overall savings or stay at the same level.

“The principle behind a carbon tax is simple: stop taxing what we want and start taxing what we don’t want,” said Ms. May. “The Green Party’s carbon tax plan is a Robin Hood approach to solving the climate crisis – we take from pollution and give to the people. A Green Tax Shift will provide a Carbon Tax Holiday by allowing income taxes and payroll taxes to be reduced, income supplements to low income Canadians to be increased, student loans to be cut in half, and GST rebates to provide more relief to rural Canadians as society makes the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The tax cuts we will be able to bring in as a result of carbon tax revenues will both save money for Canadians and stimulate the economy. As the cornerstone of our plan to combat climate change, a carbon tax will help make life better for Canadians while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.”

Ms. May said the Green Party’s costing exercise shows how different types of families in Canada will be affected by a carbon tax. For instance, an urban, upper-middle-class family in Ontario would pay 1.2 per cent less income toward taxes while a low-income, rural senior would save 9.2 per cent every year.

While some rural families may not experience savings initially, the Green Party will provide income supplements to such families to ensure they are not treated unfairly by a carbon tax. In addition, the Green Party’s full climate plan will include some cap and trade measures for the largest polluters, stimulate the development of renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, assist municipalities to bring in mass transit and other energy saving infrastructure, and bring back passenger rail service.

“A carbon tax is just one piece of our plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is one of the most critical components,” said Ms. May. “Economists and environmentalists agree that putting a price on carbon is essential to combating the climate crisis. As countries in the European Union have shown, a carbon tax can help achieve emissions reductions with economic success and protection for low-income citizens. The government’s own research shows that a carbon tax can be implemented without affecting Canada’s GDP.

“It is time for political parties in Canada to advance bold, new solutions to the current climate crisis and the Green Party is prepared to do so.”

Here are some supporting documents

  • Carbon Tax Plan - HTML - PDF
  • Carbon Tax Plan Q & A - PDF
  • Press Release - HTML - PDF
  • Excerpts from Vision Green and Averting Climate Catastrophe - PDF
I like how they've outlined several different categories of Canadians by income and locationa nd they've shown what he tax shift will mean to their annual bottom lines.


Elizabeth May to Release GPC Tax-Shift Details Today

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, is gonna scoop Stephane Dion. Lizzie's gonna release all the gory details of the Green Party Tax-Shift plan today, one day before Perfessor Dion finally spills the beans on the Grits' plan.

Now, the Trawna Star speculates that maybe Lizzie's workin' alongside Dion and not really upstaging him.

The Green party, meanwhile, will leap out ahead of the Liberal announcement today with a detailed accounting of its carbon-tax proposal. With its more sweeping taxes and savings, the Green plan may help pave the way to making the Liberal plan look more modest and practical, though Green Leader Elizabeth May, already in an informal co-operation pact with Dion, says that's not the motivation.

Here are the big differences, based on what's known now of the plans.

The Greens are calling for $40 billion in tax increases on carbon – $50 a tonne – including higher prices at the gas pump. Sources say Liberals will propose more modest tax increases – about $14 billion, and no increases in gasoline prices.

The Greens and Liberals are both promising "revenue neutral" tax shifts. But the Greens, with larger increases, are proposing more sweeping decreases in income taxes, including "income splitting" to allow couples to pool their income to pay the lowest tax rate. It's said that income-splitting is not foreseen in the Liberal scheme.

The Liberals' plan includes large personal and corporate income tax refunds, including wider use of "refundable" tax credits that put money in the pockets of those who don't make enough to pay tax. The Greens also propose to ease the tax burdens of seniors and students.

I ain't sure how much of what Lizzie announces today will be new policy. Vision Green spells out pretty much everything the Greens propose on tax-shifting, carbon taxes and anti-poverty solutions. These policies are contained in different sections of the policy book. I suspect Lizzie'll just be wrapping up existing GPC policy in a neat and tidy package so the public and MSM can wrap their brains around it more easily without reading 150+ pages of Vision Green.

The timing is interesting, I'll allow. Since our GPC policy has been relatively accessible for some time, I don't think the timing is too big an issue. It ain't like Lizzie's coming out with some brand new policy, like Dion's gonna be doin' tomorrow. Also, the media ain't gonna give Lizzie's announcement the sorta coverage they'll give Dion. I don't even know when or where Lizzie's gonna be stumpin'.

I think Lizzie's timing speaks to the fact that Greens have gained big support over he past couple years. Dion, as I blogged earlier, is actively wooing GPC supporters with a message crafted to attract soft Green votes. The same Star article I quoted above says the Liberals are planning to use the slogan, "Shift happens." How original!


UPDATE: Plan is released.

Woo, Woo, Woo Your Vote - Dion Targets Greens

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was just over to Jason Cherniak's boog and I seen a quote from Stephane Dion that makes it even more clear that the Grits are casting a covetous eye at us treehuggin' Greens. Here's what Jason said that Dion said:
"We will ask Canadians to join our growing coalition - one that crosses party lines and moves us beyond outdated notions of what it means to be right-wing or left-wing".
Coalition? I ain't sure what coalition he's talkin' about. His reiteration of Green Party policy was sure to get support from Greens but I don't think there's much of a coalition beyond a non-compete agreement that affects just 2 of 308 ridings. Greens will be running against Liberals in 306 ridings.

It ain't the "coalition" part that says Dion's targeting Greenies, though. It's the part about "outdated notions of what it means to be right-wing or left-wing." Sheesh! The gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, has been describing the Greens as neither right nor left forever. Jimmy Harris was on that theme before Lizzie.

Fiscally conservative, socially liberal. That's the mantra us treehuggin' Greenies been chantin' since day one. Neither right nor left.

It's flattering that Dion has been so eager to adopt GPC policy. First, he says he's going to impose a "price on carbon." Then, he morphs it into a a carbon tax, straight out of Vision Green. Then, he lets everybody know that it ain't just a new tax but it's a tax-shift and it's revenue neutral. If you've been keepin' up with Green Party policy, you'll know that these are longtime GPC planks.

Now, Dion is not just taking our policies, he's starting to describe his party as neither right nor left. I can't really blame Dion for trying to siphon off soft Green support. He may just find, however, that Green support isn't as soft as it was once considered. In the recent by-elections as well as the October 2007 Ontario election, Green support at the ballot box was pretty much the same as Green support in pre-election opinion polls. Even so, there was no concerted Liberal effort to grab Green votes. Next time will be different.

With the Liberals and Conservatives polling at a see-sawing virtual dead heat, the double-digit support that the Greens have been getting looks mighty attractive, I'm sure. If Dion could woo just half of GPC supporter into the Liberal fold, he could win a minority. If he could reduce GPC support back to the 4%-5% we got in the last two elections, he might even get a majority.

It's gonna be a lot tougher than just talkin' the talk on a few lifted GPC policies, I reckon. A lotta new Green support is coming from disgruntled Grits who had their fill of talk-no-walk.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Revenue Negative, Revenue Neutral, Revenue Positive

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was just over to BigCityLiberal MJ's boog where he's on about Andrew Coyne. Coyne says Dion flubbed the presentation of the tax-shift (d'uh...) and should have presented it as a massive reduction in income tax and then explained where the lost revenue would be coming from. Coyne floated the idea that the tax should be introduced as "Revenue Negative".

Coyne's on the money when he sez Dion flubbed the presentation. Bigtime. As to the Revenue Negative aspect, I'll get into that soon. First, I need to take issue with one thing BCL said:
Dion's promise is that, if the average Canadian is going to pay an extra $1,000 to for example heat their home, they will get $1,000 in income tax cuts.
Wrong and wrong.

I disagree with Coyne's across-the-baord Revenue Negative idea and also with the idea that everyone who spends an additional $1000 in Carbon Tax will have their Income Tax reduced by exact same amount. As far as I know, Dion has not made such a promise. I'm open to be corrected but if Dion has any understanding of how a tax-shift actually works to reduce carbon, he cannot make such a promise.

Of course, we don't have any real details from Dion, so far, as to how the tax-shift will be implemented. That's another part of his flub-a-dub on presenting his idea when it was only half-baked. Half-baked wouldn't be so bad if we got a peek at the recipe and knew what the tax-shift would mean for various types of income earners and carbon outputters.

If the eventually to be released LPC plan is like the GPC plan, Revenue Neutrality is at the receiving end -- not at the paying end. Total taxes collected will remain at the same level as now. Taxes payable by individuals will be directly related to their carbon output.

I think that for many middle-income earners, the tax-shift will, indeed, be Revenue Positive. That's positive for the taxpayer, negative for the tax receiver (that's the Receiver General for Canada). Those who have taken or do take measures to reduce their carbon footprint will pay less carbon tax while still enjoying a break on income taxes. Low income earners will be accommodated and those who pay no tax at all will get "refund" cheques - just like many low income earners and poor people get credits under current tax laws.

Consider two typical middle-income earners with equal incomes. If all other things are equal (i.e. family size, RSP contributions, age, etc.), these two tax payers will each pay the same (reduced) amount of income tax.

Overall taxes will rise for the middle-income earner who owns a couple of SUV's, a power boat, some ATV's and snowmobiles; who drives everywhere instead of walking when practical; and who fails to be efficient with home heating and cooling.

Overall taxes will go down for the middle-income earner who practices conservation and efficiency. This practice is often referred to by naysayers and Luddites as "freezing to death in the dark."

I've taken many measures to reduce my own carbon footprint. I've also taken a few online tests to estimate my output and have consistently found that Ma and I use about 60% of what the average Canajun uses. We don't freeze in the dark. CFB lighting, thermal underwear, walking when practical, multi-tasking whenever we use a motor vehicle, digging dandelions and never buying chemical pesticides, composting, keeping the hot water heater set to a reasonable temp, etc. etc.

Despite the fact that we already use only about 60% of the energy used by average Canadian, we live in an older (1880), detached, wood frame house that could use plenty of energy efficiency upgrades. We live in a small town with only one supermarket, one drug store, one gas station, one lumberyard, one hardware store and one set of traffic lights. Not everything we need is available locally but most of it is and much of our shopping can be done on foot.

But, dang it all, we can do a lot better. Our old shack could really use better doors and windows. Once we start paying less income tax and we can see we'll be better rewarded by increasing our energy efficiency through tax reduction (and possible government incentive programs), we'll be a lot more likely to spring for a few thousand bucks' worth of 21st century windows and doors. We're already shopping.

I expect that a revenue neutral tax-shift will reward people like me and punish people like my boat-owning, 3 vehicle-owning, frequent jet traveling, air conditioner-using neighbours. Without a tax-shift, the best way Ma and I can save tax money is to lower our incomes by purchasing more expensible stuff -- like new business vehicles, trips to professional conferences, socking away more in RSP's or actually taking a cut in pay. With a tax-shift, we can make more money, spend less and ultimately pay less tax simply by reducing our carbon footprint -- something almost everyone can do, even if we've already done a lot.

That's the whole concept of a carbon tax: to get people to quit wasting energy. If we were to simply offset all carbon taxes with equal income tax reductions, we would create little incentive. The fact that consumers can lower their tax bill while lowering their energy bill is what makes a carbon tax work.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Get Rid of Your Clothes Dryer... AND Your Clothesline

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was just readin' about a new washin' machine that's just comin' on the market over in Merrie Olde Englande. The newfangled outfit uses a cup of water for each load of laundry and the clothes come out dry. No dryer. No clothesline. Hardly any water.

The Three R's are Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. They're listed in order of efficacy. By not needin' a whole appliance, the dryer, we're reducin'. By usin' a paltry cup of water per load, we're reducin'. Clothes dryers are big energy hogs so we're reducin' how much we use. Dryers are big and heavy and get delivered to stores and end-users by truck. We're reducin' the amount of freight on the roads and the amount of fuel bein' burned delivering dryers. These outfits don't use much detergent, neither, so we're reducin' there, too. When we don't use water, we don't need to run used water through sewage treatment plants.

Of course, nuthin's as simple as it might seem. These machines use 40 lbs of plastic chips to pound the clothes clean. After about 6 months, the chips need to be replaced. Unless there's some dang good recyclin' or re-usin' plan for that plastic, the benefits may be outweighed. I reckon it might depend on how easily accessible the water is. In drought-stricken and arid regions, it still sounds like a winner. Maybe they can make the plastic chips from recycled plastic bags or water bottles.

Here's a Reuters article about the (almost) waterless washin' machines.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Layton Adopts Green Party Policy

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Jack Layton ain't been exactly sociable with the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May. Now, it looks like that might be changin'. Today is Lizzie's birthday. I don't know if Jack sent her any birthday greetings or not but he sure as hell done Lizzie a favour by stealin' a plank from the Green Party policy book.

Greenies are happy to share our good green ideas and when other parties lift a policy, like Stephane Dion did with our tax-shifting policy, we're happy 'huggers. I reckon Happy Jack's makin' Lizzie happy on her birthday by adoptin' a GPC policy.

From the Globe, June 8, 2008:

Yesterday, in a speech in Ottawa, he (NDP Leader Jack Layton) called on the federal government to suspend any new permits for oil sands development projects until the cumulative social and environmental effects have been examined.

“No new approvals until we get it right,” he said.

From Vision Green, October 15, 2007:

Green Party MPs will:

  • Address inter-provincial/territorial and international water-related concerns by demanding that government:
    1. Restore ecosystem health to Canada’s coastline and inland watersheds by funding improvements to municipal wastewater treatment systems, with particular emphasis on ensuring shoreline communities and industries stop dumping untreated waste into rivers, lakes and oceans; and,
    2. Ensure that binding water-sharing agreements among provincial, territorial and federal governments are created within the Mackenzie Basin (within 1 year). The agreements must reflect contemporary scientific knowledge and principles of social equity, efficiency and ecological integrity. Elements to include:
      1. Capping withdrawals from the Athabasca River based on assessment of in stream flow needs;
      2. Ensuring oil sands developers deal responsibly with polluted waters in storage ponds (largest man-made structures on Earth); and,
      3. Placing a moratorium on further oil sands development (i.e. increases in annual production).
From Green Party, May 2, 2008:
The Green Party of Canada is calling for a moratorium on the expansion of Tar Sands development and an elimination of government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
Back in December, Earth Mother Lizzie May posted up a boog story where she listed off 31 policies that were unique to the Green Party. When Dion and the Grits adopted our carbon tax shift, the list got a little shorter. Now that Layton and the Dippers have adopted our moratorium on tar sands expansion policy, another item can be scratched off Lizzie's List of Green Party Uniqueness.

Here's Lizzie's December 2007 list:
  1. A carbon tax, an indispensable step in getting the prices right in energy choices and allowing reduced income and payroll taxes.
  2. “Income-splitting” to reduce the tax burden on middle class couples.
  3. A continuing role in Afghanistan but within a transformed U.N. mission, legalizing and regulating the poppy trade for medicinal use, and bringing in more Islamic nations into the peace-keeping, security efforts in Southern Afghanistan through the U.N.
  4. An end to asbestos mining and export to developing countries. (truly outrageous that for all the talk about asbestos, only the Green Party is prepared to call for banning mining and export.)
  5. The phase out of nuclear power and uranium mining.
  6. The reform of the Divorce Act to make family law less of a battleground.
  7. To launch a national dialogue toward a Guaranteed Livable Income.
  8. The legalization of marijuana, to be controlled, regulated and taxed.
  9. The six month notice to get out of NAFTA with immediate re-negotiation of key provisions.
  10. Support for open source software and net neutrality.
  11. National shift to GE-free, organic agriculture and regional food self-sufficiency.
  12. A moratorium on new projects in the tar sands.
  13. Creation of a federal Department of Tourism
  14. Protect drinking water at its source (no other party will do this--the BC NDP jailed citizens for trying to protect drinking water).
  15. Amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to enshrine the right of Canadians to an ecological heritage that includes breathable air and drinkable water.
  16. Pass federal legislation to prohibit bulk water exports.
  17. Establish a National Parks completion budget; protect at least half of Canada's Boreal Forest in a network of large interconnected protected areas as called for in the 2003 Boreal Forest Conservation Framework
  18. Zero waste, including laws requiring lifetime stewardship of products
  19. A cancer prevention strategy that includes a toxic-free Canada -- taxing toxics and pollution; ending the production and use of the most dangerous toxic chemicals by 2012.
  20. Pan-Arctic waste management strategy.
  21. Shift funding from mega-freeway projects like Pacific Gateway that encourage urban sprawl and use the funds instead for public transit.
  22. Implement Genuine Progress Indicator (or Index of Well-being)
  23. Enact "living will" legislation to give person the choice to die with dignity.
  24. Explore establishing a new crown corporation to bulk purchase and dispense generic drugs - to bring down the costs of pharmacare.
  25. Pass pay equity legislation; immediately implement full pay equity for women employed in the federal sector and develop tax incentives for companies to meet gender and pay equity.
  26. Press professional societies to remove unnecessary barriers recognizing the professional credentials of immigrants.
  27. Canada must support and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  28. Revamp CIDA to focus on developing community-based green economies, poverty alleviation and programmes to combat and adapt to climate change.
  29. Declare Canada a nuclear free zone.
  30. Reform WTO, IMF and the World Bank, placing these under the authority of the UN General Assembly and shift the direction of international trade away from free trade to fair trade.
  31. Scrap the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership)

Well, I guess we're down to only 29 policies that are unique to the Green Party. As we move closer an' closer to the next federal election, I wonder who's gonna be next to take a page outta Vision Green.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Elizabeth May Pens NatPo Article on Carbon Tax

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, has written an article for the dang National Post. I reckon she's gotta go where she can get readers and maybe win over a few converts or shore up some soft support.

The article's all about tax shiftin' and carbon taxin' and cappin'n'tradin'. Lizzie spells out some details of the Green Party plan. So far, Dion's been stealin' GPC policy so if anyone wonders what the Liberals might come up with, the Green policy oughta offer a dang good clue.

The Simple Solution

Elizabeth May, National Post
Published: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Pollution must have a price tag. It is currently too cheap to pollute and too expensive not to."

-Don Drummond, Chief Economist, TD Bank (March 7, 2007)

The debate on the various ways to put a price on carbon--a goal now endorsed by a wide range of think tanks and NGOs, from the National Round Table on Environment and Economy to the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers --needs to take place in a proper factual context.

A carbon tax is a policy response to two crises: higher energy prices brought on by declining reserves of conventional, accessible oil; and the gathering storm of climate instability. Before plunging into the rationale for carbon taxes, one thing needs to be clear: Doing nothing is not an option. Energy prices will continue to climb if we do nothing. And the ultimate costs of the climate crisis -- as estimated by Sir Nicholas Stern, former senior economist to the World Bank -- will be in the trillions. We are faced with nothing less than a catastrophic threat to our children's future.

In order to bring down greenhouse gases at anything like the rate recommend by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we will need a wide array of programs and regulations. We will also need to harness the market to send a meaningful pricing signal to the economy. In this regard, the most popular mechanisms to harness the market are cap-and-trade and a carbon tax.

This need not be an either/or proposition. The Green party believes a cap-and-trade system -- of the type advocated by the NDP, for instance -- can help bring down emissions from the largest polluters. In particular, such an approach might be used in certain sectors -- allowing coal-fired electrical plants to trade carbon credits amongst one another, for instance, as the cap goes down on their collective emissions.

But to bring down emissions in the nation as a whole, and provide the fiscal flexibility needed to significantly reduce the tax burden and alleviate energy poverty, we also need a carbon tax.

A carbon tax has the advantage of minimal new bureaucracy. It can be implemented quickly, and most economists see it as the most effective approach. As The Economist magazine put it in a 2006 editorial: "Ideally, politicians would choose the more efficient carbon tax, which implies a relatively stable price that producers can build into their investment plans." In contrast, cap-and-trade has high transactional costs and a greater risk of fraud. It is likely best reserved for targeted sectors.

The essence of the Green party plan is the Green Tax Shift. We propose a tax of $50/tonne on carbon. This would be applied at the tar sands and at the pumps. Our carbon tax would bring in $40-billion to the federal treasury every year -- thereby allowing significant decreases in income and payroll taxes, as well as income-splitting within families.

The funds also would allow us to raise the minimum level at which our lowest-earning taxpayers start paying income tax, as well as increasing income supports to seniors and the poor. Any carbon-reduction plan also needs to exhibit regional sensitivity, for the benefit of rural Canadians who are reliant on fossil fuels as we also want to buffer effects for those who use fossil fuels to earn a living, like farmers and fishers.

It is nonsense to claim that consumers can be shielded from price increases under either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. But the benefit of the tax shift I advocate is that cuts to income taxes and payroll taxes will reduce the pain of rising fuel prices. In fact, most Canadians will be better off. They will also make sensible decisions, such as getting a more fuel-efficient vehicle or a home energy audit.

Such a plan must evolve. Over time, a carbon tax would have to rise as the amount of carbon being used shrinks. Eventually, over decades, with carbon virtually eliminated, another tax shift will be needed.

As noted recently in these pages, some Canadians are skeptical that a government would ever keep the carbon tax revenue-neutral by returning the newly levied funds to the taxpayer. One advantage of the Green party approach is that, with the generation of $40-billion in new revenue, no government could get away with failing to use such an enormous cash influx to improve Canada's economy.

Overall, our Green Tax Shift is all about cutting taxes while cutting greenhouse gases.

It all makes sense, sez I. When Dion finally does unveil the Liberal tax-shift plan, I reckon it'll look a lot like what Lizzie's described.


Renewable Energy Could Replace 5 Nuclear Plants: UK Gov Study

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I'm all for renewable energy and all against nuclear energy so when I seen this item over at Brian Gordon's Green Party blog, it grabbed my attention.

Microgeneration could rival nuclear power, report shows

British buildings equipped with solar, wind and other micro power equipment could generate as much electricity in a year as five nuclear power stations, a government-backed industry report showed today.

Commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), the report says that if government chose to be as ambitious as some other countries, a combination of loans, grants and incentives could lead to nearly 10m microgeneration systems being installed by 2020.

Such a large scale switch to microrenewable energy could save 30m tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of nearly 5% of all UK electricity.

The report estimates that there are nearly 100,000 microgeneration units already installed in Britain. Nearly 90,000 of these are solar water heaters, with limited numbers of biomass boilers, photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, fuel cells, and small-scale hydroelectric and windpower schemes.

If no action is taken, says the report, Britain can expect about 500,000 microunits to be installed by 2015 and 2-3m by 2020. But, with the right incentives, nearly one in five buildings in Britain would effectively become mini power stations, feeding electricity into the grid, or generating enough to be largely self-sufficient. Some of the greatest gains would be in combined heat and power units which are suitable for large blocks of flats, estates and businesses.

Britain has been widely criticised for not doing as much as other countries to encourage a mass market for small-scale renewables. The few existing schemes have failed to kick-start the industry. But the report says this could be swiftly changed: Germany has invested nearly £10bn in photovoltaic technology and Sweden has made it very attractive for consumers to install heat pumps.

The small-scale energy revolution will depend on the government stimulating the market with a range of consumer-friendly financial incentives schemes. "For widespread uptake of microgeneration to occur in the UK, sustained policy support will be required," says the report.
The Guardian

Makes sense to me. Buildings are just standin' there blockin' wind and soakin' up sunshine. Why not use what's already there? Here's an example from Milton, Ontariariario. The turbine is supposed to generate 5kw. That's dang good output for a small residential unit.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ag Minister Ritz a No-Show at Rome Food Summit

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the world's got a food crisis goin' on. Right now, a human being starves to death every 3 or 4 seconds. The UN's worried and they got a bigass conference goin' on over in Rome. There's a buncha heads of state and agriculture ministers and officials from most countries. Canada is represented by only one guy and he was already there in Rome. We sent no one to a conference that aims to relieve the suffering of millions.

Eric Reguly wrote about it in the Globe.
There are dozens of heads of state and government at the United Nations Food Summit in Rome, from Japan's Yasuo Fukuda to Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. There are dozens of agriculture ministers and aid agency leaders.

You would think Canada would be well represented at the most important food conference since the 1970s. Canada is one of the world's biggest producers and exporters of grains. It is routinely touted as one of the few countries with enough spare growing capacity to prevent millions from going hungry.

Yet prime minister Stephen Harper is not here. The bigger surprise: Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is also absent.

When the food summit was being mapped out a few months ago, Canadian diplomats in Europe and a good number of officials at the three UN food agencies in Rome assumed Canada would be represented by no less than Mr. Ritz. But the man never made a commitment and he bowed out last week. His absence leaves Alex Himelfarb, Canada's ambassador to Italy, as the senior Canadian at the event.

On behalf of Canada, Mr. Himelfarb will be making a statement Wednesday or Thursday on the food crisis, precise topic unknown. Poor guy. He will no doubt get peppered with questions about the agriculture minister's no show.

There was no explanation for Mr. Ritz's no-show status. Apparently, personal reasons, like an emergency root canal, had nothing to do with it. You could assume the prime minister's office made the decision for him. But why?

Egyptian leader Mubarek is up on his hindlegs blamin' it all on biofuel. Canada's a big backer of dumbass agrofuel. Why ain't Ritz there tryin' to defend the indefensible?

We may not have a food crisis here in Canada but we are members of the international community. We should be better represented at such an important meeting. After all, King Steve found time last week to duck pesky reporters by travelin' around Yerp for no other reason than to try to convince them we're serious about GHG's when we ain't. We got a lot more credibility when it comes to producing food and providing aid.

We could be stepping up to the plate and demonstrating compassion, humanity and leadership. But we ain't.


Copyright Law Rumours

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I'm always hearin' about rumours circulatin' around the series of tubes but I hardly ever see any. Strange, since I spend way too much time readin' the boogs and browsin' the news sites. Well, I just seen a couipla rumours about changes to the copyright laws and I'm fulfillin' my duty as an irresponsible rumour-mongerin' booger and postin' the rumoured changes that are supposed to be happenin' tomorrow.

  • Immediately after tabling the bill, Industry Minister Prentice and Finance Minister Flaherty will trade places. There has already been a lot of opposition to this bill, so it follows Conservative strategy to put a more aggressive blowhard in place to defend bad legislation (like they did when they replaced Rona Ambrose with John Baird as Environment Minister).

  • The fine for downloading illegal songs will be set at $500. "Other provisions in the bill, which is said to be tabled to the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon, will include measures to make it illegal to unlock cellphones or copy music from protected CDs to iPods as well as making it illegal to copy 'time shifted' shows onto personal video recorders if flagged by broadcasters." Music companies get to decide whether or not you can make your own mixes for your car, and broadcasters get to decide which shows you're allowed to record.
Okay, there you go. I reckon all we can do is wait and see if the rumours are true and whether or not the LibCon majority passes this stuff in the House of (no)Comments.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Do McGuinty and Charest Reject Carbon Tax?

Whooee! I was just over to Steve V's fine blog, Far and Wide, where he's talkin' about the new cap-and-trade deal between McGuinty and Charest. Steve's post is mostly about how PitBullBoy Baird is all hot under the collar and don't like the idea of the provinces workin' independently for the sake of the planet. I hear Dubya says the same things about Schwartzenegger.

An anonymous commenter characterized the deal as a rejection of carbon taxes. Here's what the nameless one said.
Anonymous said...

Interesting that you do not note that the two Liberal premiers of the two largest provinces where the Liberals need to maintain and acquire new seats have REJECTED Mr. Dion's carbon tax and favour the NDP cap and trade approach.

I agree that a realignment in QC may be in the works but I wouldn't be gleeful about it if I were a Liberal activist.

The Charest/Dion enviro message will reinforce the NDP narrative come election time.

8:06 AM, June 02, 2008

I think we can safely assume the anonymous commenter is an NDP backer.

REJECTED? I ain't so sure about that.

I don't see this as a rejection of a carbon tax. In many European and Scandinavian jurisdictions, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade work side-by-side to reduce GHG's.

McGuinty has said he prefers the cap-and-trade tactic but I can't recall any quotes where he's rejected or even REJECTED a carbon tax. Dion did reject a carbon tax not long ago. I'm sure we'll all be reminded by anonymous NDP commenters soon enough. Dion changed his mind and the carbon tax idea is getting quite good acceptance. McGuinty and Charest won't be afraid of embracing a winning idea; especially, one that they haven't actually rejected.

If I purchase a new sofa, that does not mean I REJECT chairs. It simply means that I am adding one component to my living room seating capacity.

The Green Party is calling for a multi-pronged approach with two of those prongs being a carbon tax and sector by sector cap-and-trade implementation. Most observers and experts seem to think each system has merit. Proponents of each argue as to which is faster to implement.

In an interview last week, Iggy broadly hinted that the Grits will include cap and trade in their tax shift proposal.

The only ones who are REJECTING actions known to be positive are the NDP and the Con's. The NDP's rejection of a carbon tax flies in the face of EU experience and Kyoto target-meeting results.

Only the Con's are rejecting cap-and-trade and rejecting a carbon tax. Their plan: wait until after the US election to see what their masters dictate. Stall, obfuscate, nit-pick, demonise, scare and promote the status quo.

It is a well known fact that the federal government is the most effective arm of government when it comes to applying and collecting taxes. Outside of Quebec, we use the federal government to collect provincial income tax as well as most taxes. Also, wrt the revenue neutral tax shift idea, the provinces don't collect enough income tax to make a revenue neutral carbon tax a well-funded environmental solution.

Besides, somebody has to do something. The provinces, like some US states, are realizing that the federal level i sluggish and ill-inclined to act to save ol' Mother Earth. BC has introduced a carbon tax. The Western provinces are working on an international carbon market with some western states. Ontario and Quebec are collaborating on a cap-and-trade system.

The Fed's are doing just about nothing and the NDP is insisting it has the one and only solution.

(Note: This post is an edited version of a comment I posted at Far and Wide.)