Price on carbon coming to NL: minister

James McLeod
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Province to help fight climate change by targeting industrial emitters

Environment Minster Perry Trimper  plans to get serious about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Come By Chance oil refinery.

He has marching orders to go after the province’s big polluters.

Trimper just got back from a meeting of ministers from across the country talking about climate change, and he said the government will draw up hard targets for emissions reductions, and legislation to make it happen.

Trimper said more than 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the province come from industrial sources.

“On a per capita basis, we are still putting a lot of stuff into the sky,” he said.

“So in my mandate, you’ll see there’s a very clear direction to go after the large industrial emitters.”

But Tory environment critic Barry Petten said putting a price on carbon emissions will be a tricky task. Petten said if it’s done wrong, it will lead to the shutdown of the Come By Chance refinery.

“With the present economic conditions we’re facing, I don’t know if this is the time to go after big industry on carbon tax,” Petten said. “We all know that climate change and polluters — everyone gets that — but is this the right environment for going after big industry?”

There’s only a short list of big emitters in the province. The offshore oil production rigs produce a fair bit of greenhouse gas, but Trimper said they have a special status because of the Atlantic Accord and shared federal-provincial jurisdiction.

“Within the province, we can certainly move forward with the large industrial emitters onshore, so that’s what we’re doing,” Trimper said. “In terms of the offshore, it requires careful collaboration with the federal government.”

But in terms of onshore industrial emitters, there’s really only the Iron Ore Company (IOC) mine in Labrador West, the Holyrood oil-burning power plant and the Come By Chance refinery.

And with both the price of iron ore and oil tanking right now, IOC and Come By Chance are already in a precarious spot.

“Whatever you bring in, no matter what way you paint it, it’s still going to be a tax,” Petten said.

“You’re going to basically indirectly force them out of business, and it is a tough situation. It is a tough one to address.”

Trimper said the government is weighing options, but the basic choices come down to a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax or some sort of industry-by-industry regulatory scheme.

Trimper said joining some other jurisdiction’s cap-and-trade system might be tricky, because it would take time to get in, and then you’d be playing by their rules.

A benefit of a carbon tax is that it could drum up some money for the government, which is grappling with a $2-billion deficit.

But NDP MHA Lorraine Michael said if the government decides to do a carbon tax, it shouldn’t be primarily motivated by raising money.

As for the concerns about wrecking the economy?

“Well, the economy is already wrecked, isn’t it?” Michael said. “It’s complicated. It’s not simple. But we can’t run away from it either, and I think we’ve been running away from it for too long, as a province.” Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Iron Ore Company

Geographic location: Chance, Labrador West, Holyrood

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Recent comments

  • paul
    February 10, 2016 - 10:04

    here's the thing...hydro power is supposed to be a green alternative...yet the cost to consumer continues to rise. no matter what I do to improve my house my heating costs keep rising and will only get worse as we start to pay for I am going back to burning wood. how's that for green energy of hydro?

  • Place the Carbon Tax on the backs of those who willingly gave away the peoples' natural resources in the raw state.
    February 08, 2016 - 12:49

    This Carbon Tax should be placed solely on the backs of those who ruled us and who gave away our "Raw" Natural Resources for the benefit of their own personal economies and those entities, corporations, provinces and countries they patronized with our province's raw natural resources to grow the economies that we missed out on growing.

  • Masterwatch
    February 07, 2016 - 13:40

    And where will this tax end up? On the consumers, of course. In these dire times all seniors and low income families need is another tax. Onward through the fog!

  • james
    February 06, 2016 - 10:27

    china build one coal fired power plant every week, Canada produces 1.5% of the pollution on the planet, and the( they) i refer to are the carbon credit sellers like al gore who made million selling carbon credits ,i guess some people can not think for them selves

  • Joe Bob
    February 04, 2016 - 13:28

    With the price of oil at historic lows and fuel prices basically remaining constant, refineries must be making a ton of money. They can afford to pay for the damage they do.

  • james
    February 04, 2016 - 11:06

    how do they plan on stopping the pollution from China and India in case you did not know it just across the pond and are the biggest polluter on the planet

    • Kev
      February 05, 2016 - 12:54

      Who are "they" that you're referring to? Whatever China and India are or aren't doing, doesn't give the rest of the world an excuse not to act.

  • Prince Caspian
    February 04, 2016 - 10:38

    There are two things unsaid here that should be noted. First, jetting off to climate change conferences as if you accept climate change exists means that you are changing the climate, for jet fuel is a combustion process releasing carbon dioxide, heat, water vapour, as the contrails show us all. Second, it is us, the people, the taxpayers, that are going to pay carbon taxes, not business. Justin Trudeau agreed to this at Paris. But we simply can't. Not now. We have no money, are facing increased taxes and reduced services, along with austerity and essentially rule by banks. Alberta just started to experience unemployment above 6% and are getting $700 million in infrastructure and special EI benefits. Newfoundland has had twice those levels of EI for years and Ottawa hasn't done that for us. Newfoundland is insolvent and effectively bankrupt and Trudeau has said we will see no equalization change for at least two years, and where is our infrastructure spending? If this keeps going the way it appears to be heading, we may have to go it alone, because we are actually alone as I see it.

  • Fred
    February 03, 2016 - 14:43

    we are still putting a lot of STUFF into the sky,” he said. Nothing like a well versed Environment Minister. The oil sands amount for .0000i per cent of the world Greenhouse gases. Maybe Come By Chance would account for .00000000001 per cent. We just had 383 delegates from Canada attend a Climate Change Conference in France. Bet the carbon foot print they created for all the flights and car rentals would be more NL would produce in a life time . Every country that ever introduced Cap and Trade turned out to be a big disaster and the bigger companies cased in on the big bucks will the average consumer paid through the nose. Trimper needs to get his head out of the sand before someone STUFFS it where the sun don't shine.

  • Smokestack Lightning
    February 03, 2016 - 11:45

    Health Sciences Centre, MUN has a big smokestack. Beer factories. Box and plastic bag factories in Donovans Industrial could always be somewhat cleaner, though I believe the plastic bag factory has taken great strides in that area in the last number of years. I once was shown an essential truth of the physical world (physics and chemistry if you like) and that is, that if you can smell it, it's there. In other words that smell is the fact that those chemicals are entering your bloodstream through your respiration. So, you see pollution goes far beyond the very simple, though oft denied, truth of one chemical, carbon dioxide. Corner Brook smells way better than it did in the eighties and nineties as well! My compliments there, it is eminently much more livable. Also, dioxins have been shown to increase violent behaviour. So, things floating down to settle in water supplies can't be totally discounted either. Anyway, cars are by far the worst! You may think your car is somehow quiet and clean, to which I say, go suck a tailpipe, they still smell, and emit horrid polluting chemicals. Throw on a backpack and walk to the store for your next pack of smokes and lottery ticket, stop driving just to your community mailbox for heaven's sake and look into electric vehicles. I won't mention any brand names, but there is one company that will bring them to you for a test drive.

  • David
    February 03, 2016 - 11:19

    Carbon tax needs to be applied at the point of purchase. We then have the choice to take responsibility for polluting the environment by buying oil and gas or not by buying clean energy such as electricity. We now have to pay up for our previous transgressions to this earth. The carbon tax collected should then help folks to move way from fossil fuels by helping them buy electrics furnaces, appliances and car and truck, etc through rebates and incentives.

  • james
    February 03, 2016 - 10:49

    get your wallets out some has to pay for the deficit turdo plans on creating,apple did not fall far from the tree

  • N
    February 03, 2016 - 10:41

    Carbon tax will not decrease emissions. It is a simple tax grab by governments that are revenue hungry. Curtail your spending before you increase taxes.

  • The real Calvin
    February 03, 2016 - 10:27

    Petten's line of reasoning is exactly why the Paris Climate Change Agreement is not going to change anything. Everyone agreed to reduce carbon emissions, but as the process unfolds more and more governments will push off the plans due to the economic impacts. On the brights side, half the world will be covered in water and/or ice in like 50 years, so no one will have to worry about the economy or debt situations for long...

  • jerome
    February 03, 2016 - 09:22

    John is correct , what industry do we have that really pollute, and shouldn't we get a carbon tax credit for Churchill Falls and soon to be Muskrat Falls, which in a cap and trade system would more than offset Kruger and Come By Chance. So that only leaves us, the home owner, taxpayer to shoulder this burden.

  • Alex
    February 03, 2016 - 07:51

    Bringing in a price on carbon must have be in the section of the Liberal platform where it also said we will actually be doing layoffs.

  • John
    February 02, 2016 - 20:01

    Someone tell me, outside of Come by Chance and Kruger, who are the industrial polluters in this province that this Trimper clown is talking about, there is no industry here.....!!!!

    • TB
      February 04, 2016 - 13:12

      IOC, Hibernia, White Rose, Terra Nova, Vale-Inco, Hollyrood.