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Energy & the Environment

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Energy & the Environment
Oil and gas.
 
The three letter curse words.
 
Many are calling for the end of oil and gas while promoting the slogan “Build Back Better”.
 
The slogan which originated from the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in response to Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, has now morphed into the slogan for all things green and socially just.
Liberal Environment Policy
The Liberal Party of Canada’s website outlines their plan for “Protecting our Environment and Moving Our Economy Forward” as follows:
 
  1. Fighting and Preparing for Climate Change
  2. Making Communities Cleaner, More Efficient, and More Affordable
  3. Protecting Canada’s Natural Legacy
 
The document lays out a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, plant two billion trees in ten years, provide interest-free loans for retrofits, build vehicle charging stations, set up a camping travel bursary and ban single-use plastics.
 
So what is the problem with the Liberals environmental plan? Simple. It lacks depth, neglects financial implications and worst of all, its not rooted in reality.
Zero Emissions
Net-Zero Emissions by 2050
 
Making a commitment to hit this target through “legally binding” targets ignores the reality that we live in.
 
The Parliamentary Budget Office has indicated that emissions-reductions cannot be met unless the carbon tax is drastically increased.
 
While it may be possible to tax the country into a state of zero emissions, this would significantly cripple the economy, destroy jobs and ruin lives. This is not acceptable.
 
What should the government do?
 
Up to the mid-late 1800s, wood was the primary source of energy for developed nations.
 
What changed from that point to now? Innovation.
 
Government needs to remove red tape, repeal poor policy, end harmful taxation and allow the free market to pursue new technologies.
 
How can we be sure that this will work?
 
The free market is driven to create returns for shareholders. If there is an opportunity to create profits through new technology, free markets will find a way to capitalize.
 
In order to truly implement policies that improve our environment, we need to look beyond our borders and bring leading Canadian technologies to foreign countries.
 
Canada is a significant coal exporter. Coal, when burned, is a much higher polluter than other non-renewable resources such as natural gas and hydrogen. The government should work with foreign countries to promote the use of natural gas as a substitute.
Retrofit
Retrofit Buildings
 
Plans to provide free energy audits, interest-free retrofit loans and grants for zero-emissions homes are the main talking points of the Liberal retrofit plan.
 
First off, nothing supplied by the government is free. All government expenses are bankrolled by taxpayers.
 
In the midst of reduced or eliminated incomes due to the pandemic, the likelihood of home-owners or landlords being willing to take on debt to retrofit homes or office buildings is going to be limited for the foreseeable future.
 
Similarly, the costs associated with building a zero-emission home will not be offset with a $5,000 grant as proposed in the Liberal plan.
 
What should the government do?
 
Canada is already home to stringent building regulations. Regulations that carry significant costs.
 
In order to encourage further “green” building, the market needs access to more affordable products.
 
The government could accomplish this through the reduction of red tape, and the promotion of trade deals that allow for foreign firms to bring their goods and technology to Canada.
 
Competition and innovation ultimately drive down consumer costs and will always be more effective and efficient than government subsidies.
Charing stations
Charging Stations
 
Recently, the federal government announced that it will “invest” $295 million to help Ford Canada upgrade its Oakville assembly plant to begin making electric vehicles.
 
With the increased manufacturing of electric cars, comes a requirement for charging stations.
 
According to a 2015 US Department of Energy study, costs for single port Level 1 stations range from $300-$4,500. For DC fast charging stations, $14,000-$91,000.
 
Level 1 stations add 6 miles of range per hour @ 1.9kW. DC fast charging stations add 90 miles per 20 minutes @ 90kW.
 
Before taxpayer funds are thrown at green projects, a complete analysis of the life-cycle costs should be a requirement. This will ensure that emissions are truly lower and that taxpayers are receiving economic value for their tax dollars.
 
What should the government do?
 
Government subsidies that prop up an industry or product are inevitably harmful to consumers. These subsidies hide costs that the free market would ultimately choose not to absorb.
 
Instead, government should encourage vehicle manufacturers to produce more fuel efficient vehicles, regardless of the fuel system used to power the vehicle.
 
This could be done through the existing Scientific Research & Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program. The specific objective of the project should be to offset the costs of wages paid to research and development staff who are engaged in this direct work.
 
Beyond the direct goal of improving vehicle emissions, this program would create more opportunities for high-paying jobs within the tech sector which would further help to diversify the Canadian economy.
Camping
Trees and Camping Travel Bursary
 
The tree planting program involves two billion trees, ten years, 3,500 seasonal jobs and an overall $3 billion effort to deploy natural climate solutions.
 
If there is a job that meets pandemic guidelines, planting trees in the great outdoors qualifies.
 
The camping bursary was to provide a $2,000 grant to help families go camping in Canada’s national parks. No grants have been provided to date.
 
Additionally, the Learn to Camp program was to be expanded so that every Canadian child could learn how to camp by the time they reached grade eight.
 
What should the government do?
 
The WE scandal resulted in a missed opportunity to create job opportunities for post-secondary students. This can be remedied by expanding the Canada Summer Jobs program in advance of the 2021 tree planting season.
 
If there is little or no interest in the tree planting program for 2021, it should be abandoned entirely. Instead, government should support private sector companies who are consistently engaging in tree planting projects and other environmental reclamation projects.
 
Boutique tax credits and other one-off government programs typically result in creating winners and losers. As such, the camping bursary program should be cancelled.
 
Instead, and in conjunction with a full tax code review, the government could find efficiencies within the tax system that would translate into real results for Canadians.
Plastic
Single-Use Plastics Ban
 
A recent announcement to ban single-use plastics, regulations to be finalized in late 2021, seeks to fulfill a long running Liberal election promise.
 
The ban will remove plastic grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, six pack rings, cutlery and takeout containers.
 
At a time where the hospitality industry is reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, this will be another difficult adjustment for this industry.
 
Smaller Alberta plastic manufactures have expressed concern with the new policy. Although single-use plastics account for a small portion of the plastics market, the costs associated with re-tooling a manufacturing facility can be quite high.
 
What should the government do?
 
Instead of virtue-signalling, the government should focus on addressing the issue of plastic recycling. The slogan of reduce, reuse and recycle can be traced back to the 1970s. Why hasn’t it caught on as hoped? Simply put, there is no money in plastic recycling.
 
Government should focus resources instead to projects that find viable solutions for plastic recycling. One such project is the development of plastic-bitumen composite roads.
 
Adding carbon capture technology to the plastic processing and bitumen mixing process would allow for road materials to be produced in an environmentally conscious manner.
 
Plastic-bitumen composite roads could result in better quality roadways as they are less water absorbent. Due to the temperature swings in Canada, this could save significant amounts of money otherwise spent on maintenance.
Final Thoughts
Final Thoughts
 
Canadians across the country have a strong desire to protect and preserve our environment for our children and future generations.
 
Environmental policies need to be more than exercises in virtue-signalling.
 
Government needs to understand the climate that we live in, the size of our country and the economic implications of the decisions being made.
 
Government subsidies are unacceptable. Subsidies result in expensive infrastructure projects and bloated consumer costs. If we need a reminder of this we only have to look at the recent failing of the Ontario green energy initiative.
 
Government should focus on reducing red tape, encouraging competition and providing targeted tax credits. Policy that focus on tax credits require free market enterprises to undergo the leg work to get new technology to a state where it can be capitalized on. This allows the free market to determine what is viable and how to achieve capitalization in the most efficient manner.
 
Lastly, we need capitalize on revenues from our oil and gas sector in order to further technological advances. Passing legislation to end emissions, create a zero-plastic waste economy or any other lofty agenda neglects the real world implications of these decisions. These policies do not take into consideration the resources required to accomplish these goals. Additionally, many families are being left behind as a result of these policy decisions.
 
We can protect our environment through innovation. In making policy decisions, government must not take better care of the environment than the residents who call it home.
https://www.jaredpilon.com/

I have recently made the decision to seek nomination as a candidate in the federal electoral district of Red Deer - Mountain View. As a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), I directly see the negative impacts of government policy on business owners and most notably, their families. This has never been more evident than in 2020. Through a common sense focus and a passion for bringing people together on common ground, I will work to help bring prosperity to the riding of Red Deer – Mountain View and Canada. I am hoping to be able to share my election campaign with your viewers/readers. Feel free to touch base with me at the email listed below or at jaredpilon.com. Thanks.

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Proposed legislation seeks to suppress speech about climate change and fossil fuels

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NDP MP Charlie Angus

From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

Canada is a constitutional parliamentary democracy where differences of opinion are to be resolved through elections, which people are persuaded by words and ideas, not threats of violence. Stripping people of the right to express themselves freely will introduce violence into the democratic process, disenfranchising some people and disenchanting others.

It’s rare, in today’s political world, for someone in power to whip off the velvet glove and show the iron fist beneath. It’s a bit gauche for our times. But that’s what happened recently when federal NDP natural resources critic Charlie Angus tabled a member’s bill that would clap anyone who says negative things about the government’s fossil-fuel-phobia into the pokey—and rob them on the way to jail. We’re not talking about a slap on the wrist, but about million-dollar fines and years in jail for simply expressing a positive thought about fossil fuels. So much for the fundamental freedom of expression in Canada.

Angus’ Bill C-372 would fine and jail people for the most innocuous of speech relating to climate change or fossil fuels. Even daring to speak the obvious truths such as “natural gas is less polluting than coal” could land you in jail for one year and cost you $750,000. If you produce fossil fuels and are found guilty of “false promotion,” you’d face two years in jail and a $1.5 million fine.

Enacting such speech restrictions would be destructive of the fabric of Canadian society, and even though this member’s bill (like most) will go nowhere, it should trouble Canadians that we’ve reached a level of political discourse where members of Parliament feel they can blatantly propose stripping Canadians of their freedom of expression, obviously convinced they’ll not pay a price it.

Specifically, Bill-372 and its pernicious idea of speech control would cause harm to two major elements of Canadian civilization—our democracy, which depends on the free exchange of ideas as Canada elects its leaders, and our mixed-market economic system where actors in the market require a free flow of information to make informed decisions that can produce positive economic outcomes and economic growth.

Let’s start with that democracy thing. Canada is a constitutional parliamentary democracy where differences of opinion are to be resolved through elections, which people are persuaded by words and ideas, not threats of violence. Stripping people of the right to express themselves freely will introduce violence into the democratic process, disenfranchising some people and disenchanting others. Canada already has to work hard to promote engagement by the public in the political process. Things like Bill C-372 would not make this easier. A less politically engaged public cedes ever more power to entrenched politicians and political activists, and leaves power in the hands of smaller minorities with extreme enough views who think opposing ideas must be suppressed with force.

Regarding free speech, consider this. Without a robust mixed-market economy, the voluntary exchange which leads to economic activity does not happen. Productivity declines and scarcity, the eternal scourge of humanity, resurges and people suffer. Freedom of expression is central to the operation of market economies. People must be free to share information about the value of things (or lack thereof) for decisions to be made, for prices to manifest, and for markets to function effectively. Without open communication in markets, diversity of goods and services will diminish as some goods and services won’t be promoted or defended while others are freely to advertised.

Bill C-372 should and likely will die an ignominious death in Parliament, but all politicians of all parties should denounce it for what it is—an attempt by government to suppress speech. Unlikely to happen, but one can always hope for sanity to prevail.

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Energy

Bill Banning Oil and Gas Ads Won’t Pass, and Rightfully So

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From EnergyNow.ca

By Margareta Dovgal of Resource Works 

” it wouldn’t just ban “advertising” but would also punish anyone caught saying anything positive about fossil fuels in Canada.

Corporate producers could be jailed for two years or be hit with a $1-million fine. The penalties for smaller agencies and individuals could mean $500,000 fines and imprisonment for two years less a day. “

Resource Works Margareta Dovgal shakes her head at a private member’s bill in Parliament.

Jail for saying something positive about oil and gas?

Yes, really.

Fines or prison time are in a private member’s bill before the House of Commons, Bill C-372 from NDP MP Charlie Angus, an Act Respecting Fossil Fuel Advertising.

Only it wouldn’t just ban “advertising” but would also punish anyone caught saying anything positive about fossil fuels in Canada.

Corporate producers could be jailed for two years or be hit with a $1-million fine. The penalties for smaller agencies and individuals could mean $500,000 fines and imprisonment for two years less a day.

There are several prohibitions. Section 6 would prohibit promoting a fossil fuel, and Section 8 would, for one, prohibit promoting LNG as having less impact than other fossil fuels, and prohibit spreading the word on a positive impact, such as reducing net emissions or contributing to Indigenous economic reconciliation.

The legislation would prohibit companies and people from making comparisons between different types of fossil fuels — even if the comparisons were factually and scientifically accurate. To say that one fuel that has a lower emissions profile than another would be illegal if the bill passes.

Angus as an MP has generally supported First Nations needs and priorities, but his bill was quickly slammed by some First Nations leaders. No surprise, as Canada’s oil and gas sector employs 10,400 Indigenous people, better than 6% of the total workforce. And nearly 50 Indigenous communities are becoming owners of major oil and gas and energy projects.

Angus’s First Nations critics have included these:

  • Stephen Buffalo, CEO of the Indian Resource Council: “One of the most contemptible pieces of legislation since the introduction of the Indian Act in 1876. “Angus’ proposed fossil fuel advertising act would outlaw oil and gas advertising and the ‘promotion’ of fossil fuels, even by some private citizens. If passed, this would be the most egregious attack on civil liberties in recent Canadian history.

“Angus and his environmental supporters . . .   have shown themselves to be no fans of Indigenous peoples. These single-minded environmentalist organizations ignore the interests of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, except when they want to impose their will on them.”

  • Karen Ogen, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance: “The NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay and his party want to shut down fossil fuel production, a move that would devastate the Canadian economy and undermine the greatest — and often the only — opportunity that many First Nations have for economic renewal.

“Even that is not enough. He wants to shut us up, telling us what to think and threatening us with jail and fines for not adhering to his strange, unrealistic and dangerous views of energy and environmental protection.”

And columnist Brian Lilley in The Toronto Sun called Angus’s bill “a joke” and “one of the craziest private member’s bills that I’ve ever read.”

Some commentators have seen the the bill as criminalizing dissent, rather than trying to get people on board with Angus’s cause in a constructive and meaningfully engaged way as you have to do in a democracy.

It all comes amid debate over environmental policy in Canada, and, following court rulings on some federal moves, over jurisdictional overreach.

Over the last two decades, environmental policy has been a more prominent part of federal politics. The federal government, particularly through Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change, has increased its presence and powers in matters environmental.

But there have been cases where the feds have tiptoed over the jurisdictional line, as the provinces have rights under the constitution to manage their own natural resources.

Angus’s misguided bill could also establish a dangerous precedent. How could Canadians talk democratically about any issue, adopt positions on it, and democratically resolve it, if the law banned them from advocating their positions?

Angus’s bill needs also to be treated with plain common sense: 80% of all of the energy we use in the world right now comes from fossil fuels. They are thus literally the foundation for the modern life and civilization that we have globally right now.

It’s a little bit bizarre, too, for MP Angus and his fans to say he’s merely doing for oil and gas what Canada has long done to restrict tobacco advertising.

Tobacco was a big industry in Canada, and continues to be one globally. Yes, tobacco has some serious health effects. But tobacco doesn’t keep the world’s economy running.

As we talk about solutions to climate change, as we try to deal with over 100 years of putting fossil fuels into the mix to power our daily life, it’s undeniable that we have emitted (and still emit) a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But criminalizing merely talking about one of the key components of our energy system is a really bizarre approach to problem solving.

It also seems a weird move from a party, the NDP, that is committed to democracy and democratic rights. There was significant silence on the bill from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, although when two NDP MLAs in Alberta questioned the bill, he said, “We’re a large party and that’s a normal thing that happens.”

The office of Environment Minister Guilbeault: “We welcome the NDP’s bill to the House. Advertisement has a big role to play in public perception, and the industry is raking in record profits. We will carefully assess their bill and look forward to productive debates and discussions around this important issue.”

Fortunately, the chances of the law passing are slim to none, even if it goes to second reading.

In the end, Charlie Angus’s bill will die a quiet death in Parliament. And so it should.

Margareta Dovgal is Managing Director of Resource Works. Based in Vancouver, she holds a Master of Public Administration in Energy, Technology and Climate Policy from University College London. Beyond her regular advocacy on natural resources, environment, and economic policy, Margareta also leads our annual Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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