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Canada Dumps Vital Renewable Energy Incentives for “Clean” Coal

By Stacy Feldman

Feb 3, 2009

Canada's Conservative government released a federal budget last week that would kill off the country's main program for developing renewables and channel most of the money from a new "Green Infrastructure Fund" into carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, or so-called .

The new fund, worth a modest $1 billion over five years, includes $150 million for research and $850 million for the development and demonstration of "promising" technologies.

Most of that sum, however, is pork money that will go into a chancy project in Saskatchewan that seeks to retrofit an existing coal plant with carbon capture technology, the . The plant will remove a small fraction of CO2 from the facility and eat up 25 percent of the energy produced by the generating unit to do it. Meaning: More coal will have to be burned to get the same wattage out.

Looks like it's business as usual in Ottawa. This passage from Toronto Star reporter Peter Gorrie just about says it all:

The government and the oil industry like the fact that carbon capture lets them seem to be doing something leading edge about climate change while carrying on business as usual. It might never work, and the experiments will take years, but meanwhile, profits will flow, as will subsidies for the tests.

Canada isn't alone in using clean coal as a smokescreen to slip increasingly unpopular dirty energy past the public and regulators. The US House of Representatives did it in the $819 billion stimulus package that's now moving through Congress, adding $2.4 billion for CCS. That's on top of the $2.2 billion that was already approved in the Bush bailout. The US Senate, meanwhile, is expected to boost America's clean coal hand-out to $4.6 billion in its $884 billion version of the stimulus bill.

There is, however, a big difference between the actions of the US and those of Canada: Obama's Washington is not pursuing the technology at the total exclusion of actual clean energy options like solar, wind and efficiency technologies. In fact, clean power and efficiency got some $50 billion in the House-passed stimulus measure -- about a third of what Obama has said he'd allocate for clean energy over the next ten years.

Not so in Canada.

The new pro-coal budget effectively killed all support for the nation's ecoENERGY Program for Renewable Energy (equivalent to America's Production Tax Credit for renewables). The program was the nation's main support mechanism for developing renewable energy. The Pembina Institute, a Canada-based sustainable energy think tank, reacts to the budget defeat:

The federal government's failure to renew and expand this program has jeopardized at least 1,500 megawatts of "shovel read" wind energy projects across the country, while putting the brakes on billions of dollars of potential future investment.

The renewable energy industry had hoped for a five-year extension of the program in the budget, which would have spurred over $6 billion of private investment in the Canadian economy and created 8,000 jobs, according to the Institute.

No chance. And in total, the green allocations in the budget were minimal at best and included such items as home retrofits and improving the government's reporting on key environmental indicators. You can read the full budget document . Greenpeace Canada has .

The big question is: Why put so many of the nation's energy eggs in the wildly expensive and still unproven clean coal basket?

The answer is in the Alberta tar sands -- one of the most climate-destructive projects on Earth and Canada's top energy priority. The federal government and the oil industry have been on a PR mission to persuade the public that CCS technology can transform the unpopular though highly lucrative tar sands into a cleaner energy source. 

That whole idea is absurd on its face, and note that it's not at all true.

Besides being a mouthful,

Besides being a mouthful, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, is also a nasty disease. Venezuelan equine encephalitis is a viral infection in horses that spreads to people via mosquitoes. The virus causes encephalitis which is swelling of the brain and it can be fatal. Treatment is expensive, requiring cash advance loans and a hospital stay. This is why it's not amusing that the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases misplaced a few vials of the treatment. It's still a dangerous disease, fatal in infants and the elderly, but it is better than an outbreak of Ebola or Anthrax. Still, they better get some and figure out where the Venezuelan equine encephalitis samples went.

Get a grip granola girl

Show me one federally implemented energy model containing green renewbables like wind, solar and other socialist-energy wet dreams that can handle 110 percent of an entire country's non-stop 'round the clock energy demands without the addition of coal-firing with the exclusion of nuclear energy production. Furthermore, show me one nation home to an exclusive automaker who can manufacture an entirely electric car that runs more than 400 miles on a single charge without being augmented by a fossil fuel combustion system. Hope doesn't power your lights, pay the bills or power your car. Green renewable energy production is in its infancy and it's not a question of when, it's a question of 'if.' That's right- 'if' it works. You have my deepest sympathies however you're putting the cart before the horse and throwing money in the cart before spending money on the horse that *pulls* the cart...and the money to boot. Good idea but get a grip for God's sake and join the rest of the world in the here and now and quit pissing and whining.

Most of the Health

Most of the Health Department stated that coal is dirty so keep them away and take some steps to avoid that.

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