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Groups call on Minister Kent to ensure Maxim Power’s proposed coal plant plays by the rules

For Immediate Release

August 11, 2011

OTTAWA – More than 40 diverse civil society organizations from across Canada have signed on to a letter calling on federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to protect the integrity of Canada’s forthcoming coal regulations by ensuring that this proposed new coal plant is not permitted to evade Ottawa’s rules.

On August 10, Maxim Power Corp. received final approval from Alberta’s utilities regulator to build a coal-fired power plant that would start operating just prior to federal regulations on coal-fired electricity coming into effect. If the company is successful, this would earn it a 45-year free pass to pollute.

The federal government is expected to publish a draft of its regulations for coal-fired power plants in the coming weeks.

“Coal is the worst offender among fossil fuels when it comes to producing the pollution that cause global warming,” says Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre. “Studies have shown that Alberta can meet its future electricity needs without building new coal plants by ramping up energy efficiency and investing in cleaner energy.”

When the government announced its plans for new regulations on coal-fired electricity last year, then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice committed to “guard against any rush to build non-compliant coal plants” before the federal regulations take effect in 2015.

However, Maxim Power explicitly asked for, and obtained, an accelerated approval from Alberta’s utilities regulator in order to ensure that its proposed plant could avoid being subject to the regulations. In documents filed with the Alberta Utilities Commission, Maxim’s lawyers explained that they met with Environment Minister Peter Kent to understand how their plant could be “accommodated” by the federal regulatory proposal.

“Minister Kent’s role is to protect Canada’s environment and the health of Canadians,” says Gideon Forman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Environment Canada can help foster a safe and sustainable future by phasing out all of this country's coal plants." 

The letter, addressed to Minster Kent, makes the case against building new conventional coal plants in Canada, instead supporting the development of renewable energy like wind and solar.  The signatories request that Minister Kent ensure that the Maxim proposal is not fast tracked to evade Ottawa’s pending regulations.  

"In this day and age, using coal to produce power is an outright injustice against millions of people and species as well as future generations,” says Scott Harris of Council of Canadians “Canadians must stand up against the Maxim coal project and all other coal projects to end this climate crime.”

More than 40 organizations from across Canada, including environmental, faith, business, and public interest groups, have added their voice to this critical issue. Canada’s, and the world’s, dangerous addiction to fossil fuels must come to an end if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Organizations are calling on Minister Kent to refocus his efforts on showing leadership in building the clean energy economy that Canadians deserve.

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The letter can be found below as well as attached in a PDF version

For further media inquires:

Hannah McKinnon
Climate Action Network Canada
613-276-7791

Gideon Forman
Executive Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
647-703- 5957.

Scott Harris
Prairies Regional Organizer
Council of Canadians
780-429-4500

 

Canada Green Building Council – Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment – Canadian Council of Imams – Canadian Federation of Students – Citizens Advocating Use of Sustainable Energy – Citizen’s Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario – Climate Action Network Canada - Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment – Conservation Council of New Brunswick – Council of Canadians – David Suzuki Foundation – Ecology Action Centre – Ecology Ottawa – Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society – Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island – Environmental Defence – Équiterre – For Our Grandchildren – ForestEthics – Friends of the Earth Canada – Georgian Triangle Earth Day Celebrations – Greenpeace – Living Oceans Society – Manitoba Wildlands – Ontario Clean Air Alliance – Ontario Humanist Society – Oxfam Canada – Peace River Environmental Society – Pembina Institute – Polaris Institute – Post Carbon Toronto – Public Interest Alberta – Saskatchewan Environmental Society – Saskatchewan Eco Network – Sierra Club of Canada – Sierra Youth Coalition – Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee – StopCoal.ca – Sustainability Solutions Group – United Church of Canada – Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta – Voters Taking Action on Climate Change – Waterloo Public Interest Research Group – Windfall Ecology Centre – World Wildlife Fund – Yukon Conservation Society

August 10, 2011

The Honourable Peter Kent
Minister of the Environment
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3


Dear Minister Kent,

As representatives of Canadian First Nations, environmental, faith, labour, health, youth and international development organizations, we are writing to urge you to launch an immediate review of the appropriateness of Maxim Power's proposed coal-fired Milner expansion project, in light of the federal government's future regulations on coal-fired electricity generation.

As you know, Maxim Power Corp. recently received approval from Alberta's Utilities Commission for a 500-megawatt supercritical coal plant, which would be located north of Grande Cache, Alberta. The company plans to commission the plant just before the federal regulations on coal-fired electricity take effect.

In June 2010, former Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced that the federal government would adopt regulations specifying a performance standard for greenhouse gas emissions from certain coal-fired power plants. Though the regulations would only apply beginning in July 2015, Minister Prentice assured Canadians that the government would not allow companies to avoid the regulations by rushing new plants into service. He said: "We will guard against any rush to build non-compliant coal plants in the interim."

Unfortunately, it appears that that is exactly what Maxim Power is intending to do. Documents filed by Maxim Power with Alberta's utilities regulator show that the company is indeed attempting to rush a non-compliant coal-fired power plant into service, beginning operations before the government's July 2015 deadline.

A letter from Maxim Power's lawyers to the Alberta Utilities Commission (dated June 7, 2011),  indicates that it is Maxim's intent to avoid being subject to the future federal regulations, and that Maxim officials met with you to understand how their proposal could avoid the impact of said regulations.

In our view, all coal-fired power plants need to face regulations to, at a minimum, reduce their considerable emissions of greenhouse gas pollution. Given the need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both the short and long term, it is simply no longer acceptable to build new conventional coal plants in Canada, period.

We are writing to you to seek your assurance that you will uphold the promise made by this government and ensure that Maxim Power's coal proposal - if it proceeds at all -is fully subject to the performance standard to be outlined in the future federal regulations for coal-fired electricity generation.

We understand that a draft of the proposed federal regulations on coal-fired electricity will likely be published soon. This announcement gives you an important opportunity to clarify to Canadians that you will indeed "guard against" proposals like Maxim's, by taking the measures needed to ensure that Maxim Power's new coal plant faces the same regulations as new plants commissioned after July 1, 2015.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Signed:

 

Canada Green Building Council, Saskatchewan Chapter
Ian Stewart, Chair

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Gideon Forman, Executive Director

Canadian Council of Imams
Habeeb Ali, Secretary

Canadian Federation of Students
Roxanne Dubois, Chair 

Citizens Advocating Use of Sustainable Energy
Roger Gagne, Treasurer

Citizens’ Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Derek Coronado, Coordinator

Climate Action Network Canada/ Réseau Action Climat Canada
Graham Saul, Executive Director

Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment
Robert Patrick, President

Conservation Council of New Brunswick
David Coon, Executive Director

Council of Canadians
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson

David Suzuki Foundation
Morag Carter, Program Director, Climate Change and Clean Energy

Ecology Action Centre
Brennan Vogel, Climate Change and Energy Coordinator

Ecology Ottawa
Trevor Hache, Policy Coordinator

Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society
David Parker, Treasurer

Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island
Gary Schneider, Co-chair

Environmental Defence
Matt Price, Campaigns Director

Équiterre
Steven Guilbeault, Deputy Director

For Our Grandchildren
Anthony Ketchum, President

ForestEthics
Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner

Friends of the Earth Canada
Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer

Georgian Triangle Earth Day
Douglas Nadler, Founder and Director

Greenpeace
Bruce Cox, Executive Director

Living Oceans Society
Jennifer Lash, Executive Director

Manitoba Wildlands
Gaile Whelan Enns, Director

Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Angela Bischoff, Outreach

Ontario Humanist Society
Mary Beaty and Dr Gail McCabe, Chaplains

Oxfam Canada
Robert Fox, Executive Director 

Peace River Environmental Society
Bob Cameron, President

Pembina Institute
Ed Whittington, Executive Director

Polaris Institute
Tony Clarke, Executive Director

Post Carbon Toronto
Jeff Berg, Chair

Public Interest Alberta
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director

Saskatchewan Environmental Society
Ann Coxworth, Research Advisor

Saskatchewan Eco Network
Paddy Tutty, Administrator

Sierra Club of Canada
John Bennet, Executive Director

Sierra Youth Coalition
Mark Hanlon, National Director

The Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee
Jule Asterisk, Vice Chair

StopCoal.ca
Jane Kilthei, Organizer

Sustainability Solutions Group
Rebecca Foon, Director

United Church of Canada
Jim Hodgson, Acting Executive Minister, Partners in Mission Unit

Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta
David Parker, Director

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change
Kevin Washbrook, Director

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group
Reena Reddy, Coordinator of Projects and Organizational Development

Windfall Ecology Centre
Brent Kopperson, Executive Director

World Wildlife Fund
Josh Laughren, Climate and Energy Program Director

Yukon Conservation Society
Karen Baltgailis, Executive Director 

 

For inquiries, please contact:

 

Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau Action Climat Canada
Graham Saul, Executive Director
613-241-4413

 

Communiqué de presse
Pour diffusion immédiate

 

Des groupes demandent au ministre Kent de s’assurer que l’usine au charbon proposée par Maxim Power respecte les règles

 

OTTAWA, le 11 août 2011  – Plus de 40 organisations diverses de la société civile de partout au Canada ont signé une lettre demandant au ministre fédéral de l’Environnement Peter Kent de protéger l’intégrité des prochains règlements du Canada sur le charbon en voyant à ce que cette nouvelle usine au charbon proposée ne puisse contourner les règles établies par Ottawa.

Le 10 août, Maxim Power Corp. a reçu l’approbation finale de l’organisme de contrôle des services publics de l’Alberta pour construire une centrale thermique alimentée au charbon qui commencerait à fonctionner juste avant l’entrée en vigueur des règlements fédéraux sur les centrales alimentées au charbon. Si l’entreprise gagne son pari, cela lui donnerait une passe gratuite pour polluer pendant 45 ans.

Le gouvernement fédéral devrait publier un projet de ses règlements concernant les centrales thermiques alimentées au charbon au cours des prochaines semaines.

« Le charbon est le pire coupable parmi les combustibles fossiles quant à la production de pollution qui cause le réchauffement climatique, explique Steven Guilbeault d’Équiterre. Des études ont démontré qu’en améliorant son efficacité énergétique et en investissant dans l’énergie plus propre, l’Alberta peut répondre à ses besoins futurs en électricité sans construire de nouvelles usines au charbon. »

L’an dernier, lorsque le gouvernement a annoncé ses plans pour de nouveaux règlements sur des centrales thermiques alimentées au charbon, Jim Prentice, qui était alors le ministre de l’Environnement, avait promis ceci : « nous prendrons garde à la construction précipitée de toute centrale au charbon non conforme » avant l’entrée en vigueur des règlements fédéraux en 2015.

Cependant, Maxim Power a explicitement demandé, et obtenu, une approbation accélérée de l’organisme de contrôle des services publics de l’Alberta afin de voir à ce que l’usine qu’elle propose puisse éviter d’être soumise aux règlements. Dans les documents présentés à l’Alberta Utilities Commission, les avocats de Maxim ont expliqué avoir rencontré le ministre de l’Environnement Peter Kent pour comprendre de quelle façon le projet de règlement fédéral pourrait « tenir compte » de leur usine.

« Le rôle du ministre Kent est de protéger l’environnement du Canada et la santé des Canadiennes et des Canadiens », de dire Gideon Forman de l’Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement. « Environnement Canada peut aider à favoriser un avenir sécuritaire et durable en éliminant progressivement toutes les usines au charbon de ce pays. » 

La lettre, adressée au ministre Kent, expose un point de vue contre la création de nouvelles usines au charbon conventionnelles au Canada plutôt que d’appuyer le développement d’une énergie renouvelable comme l’énergie éolienne et l’énergie solaire. Les signataires demandent que le ministre Kent voie à ce que la proposition de Maxim ne soit pas traitée en priorité de manière à contourner les futurs règlements d’Ottawa.

« De nos jours, utiliser le charbon pour produire de l’électricité est une injustice pure et simple contre des millions de personnes et d’espèces, ainsi que les générations à venir, de dire Scott Harris du Conseil des Canadiens. Les Canadiennes et les Canadiens doivent s’opposer au projet de centrale au charbon de Maxim et à tous les autres projets de centrale au charbon afin de mettre fin à ce crime climatique. »

Plus de 40 organisations de partout au Canada, dont des groupes environnementaux, confessionnels, d’entreprises et d’intérêt public ont joint leur voix à cet enjeu majeur. On doit mettre fin au penchant malsain et dangereux du Canada, et du monde entier, à l’égard des combustibles fossiles si nous voulons éviter les pires conséquences du changement climatique. Des organisations demandent au ministre Kent de recentrer ses efforts pour faire preuve de leadership dans la création d’une économie d’énergie propre que les Canadiennes et les Canadiens méritent.

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Pour toute demande de la part des médias, veuillez communiquer avec :

Hannah McKinnon
Réseau action climat Canada
613-276-7791

Gideon Forman
Directeur général
Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement
647-703- 5957

Scott Harris
Organisateur pour la région des Prairies
Conseil des Canadiens
780-429-4500

Marie-Eve Roy
Coordonnatrice des communications
Équiterre
514-378-0232

 





Letter_to_Minister_Kent_re._Maxim_Coal.pdf