by Dane Lloyd Sturgeon River-Parkland MP
More than two years after the election of the provincial NDP and federal Liberal governments, there’s no doubt Albertans have faced an unprecedented attack against industry and the jobs they support.
New carbon-taxes, tax-hikes on oil and gas, stifling red-tape and regulation have been damaging enough, but the accelerated shut-down of coal will punish workers and communities around the Edmonton region.
The timeline for a 2030 shutdown, first put forward by the NDP, then applauded by the Trudeau government, comes with a heavy price.
For coal generation facilities in Parkland County and Leduc County it means 1600 jobs are at risk, on top of another 2100-plus indirect jobs that may be affected. In November 2017, the NDP promised a $40 million transition package for these workers, but that’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to the potential $200+ million lost in annual GDP for the regional economy, not to mention the tax revenue that will vanish.
And it comes with a direct hit to Alberta taxpayers too.
Closing down facilities like the Sundance, Keephills and Genesee power plants will cost $1.3 billion- paid for by you through the carbon-tax – not to mention the billions of dollars the NDP is now taking on in debt to cover losses from their Ontario-inspired experiments to our electricity grid. The NDP are taking 5,300 megawatts of affordable and reliable electricity offline throughout Alberta in the hopes that windmills, solar panels and natural gas can cover the shortfall.
This plan makes no sense! Albertans are shelling out billions of dollars to shut down productive and affordable electricity in Alberta, all while hard-working Albertans and small communities are being taken to the cleaners.
In communities like Leduc and Parkland County, tax revenue will be impacted significantly, and these costs will barely be recovered through tax-increases on small businesses and residents. Meanwhile the NDP hands out cheques to every special interest group except the communities that are being devastated.
It’s time we hold the politicians in charge of this mess accountable.
Our Liberal environment minister Catherine McKenna has gone out of her way to brag about her own war on jobs during her recent junket to Germany. She claims: “The markets have moved on, the world has moved on, coal is not coming back” and yet, the world hasn’t moved on, with the four largest economies, China, Japan, Germany and the United States actually increasing coal production.
The fact of the matter is, while champagne socialists in downtown Ottawa and Edmonton toast the destruction of Alberta’s responsible coal industry, the top economies of the world are doubling down on coal. Meanwhile workers and communities around Alberta are losing their lifeblood and livelihoods because of our reckless provincial and federal governments.
If we want to be serious about helping to reduce global CO2 emissions, while protecting well-paying jobs, we should promote the technologies used at the Keephills generator in Parkland County. These facilities have significantly reduced CO2 emissions and generate some of the cleanest coal electricity in the world. We should extend the coal phase-out on these state-of-the-art, 21st century generators to allow companies to recoup their investments, saving taxpayers billions that could be better used to support renewable energy, research and technology and other worthwhile initiatives.
The NDP, after first coming up with the idea to shut down coal, are now trying to claim their hands are tied by the federal government. But that’s simply not true. Governments in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have both successfully negotiated delaying Ottawa’s 2030 timeline to put coal plants offline. If the NDP wanted to fight for working people in this province, they would have done the same thing; instead they’ve given Trudeau’s plan and policies their personal stamp of approval.
While it’s no doubt popular and chic in the circles Minister McKenna and the NDP hang out in to take runs at our coal workers and communities, they should instead go out to meet the community leaders and workers their ideological shutdown of coal will hurt the most. Our communities and the people of Alberta deserve nothing less.