Closing Ontario’s coal power plants: no measurable difference to environment
Often, if you express concern about the effects of industrial-scale wind power generation, the corporate wind lobby will out you in the position of being a climate change “denier” or even someone who doesn’t care about the environment.
How interesting then to see in today’s Ottawa Citizen, a letter from the Climate Science Coalition (operative word: “science”–not something the Ontario government relies on a lot) in which it is stated that closing coal-fired power plants in Canada will make NO DIFFERENCE to air quality. In Ontario, we are using coal for about 3% of our power just now, and the plants were in the midst of a retooling for cleaner air (hundreds of millions of tax dollars) when the current government stopped the program.
Here is the letter:
Cleaner air, the right way
Environment Canada is mistaken to think that “Canadians will directly benefit from cleaner air in their communities” due to the proposed greenhouse regulations for coalfired electricity generation stations.
The government’s own analysis shows that there will be negligible, in fact immeasurable, “air quality improvements experienced by typical residents” of Canada by 2030.
Specifically, fine particulate matter pollution is forecast to drop by 0.21 per cent and ground-level ozone by 0.09 per cent for the country as a whole.
The forecast pollution reduction, according to government modelling, yields health benefits from reduced smog exposure of $1.4 billion. This is highly speculative and ignores the fact that, below certain levels, pollution often has no impact on health whatsoever. Regardless, practically all of the regulations’ $1.5 billion net present value – the gap between the benefits and the cost – is accounted for by these alleged health benefits.
If Environment Canada wants to reduce air pollution, then it should do so through regulations that concentrate exclusively on pollution.
The approach of regulating the benign gas carbon dioxide and hoping for some pollution reduction on the side is obviously backwards.
Tom Harris, Ottawa Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)