Budget screws the planet for short-term gains
No 449 Posted by fw, April 1, 2012
“This is known in the budget as “responsible resource development.” This perverse label includes putting hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – pretty much the opposite of being responsible. Our penchant for planetary destruction just cannot happen fast enough. Under the mantra “one project, one review” environmental considerations will get lumped in with everything else, meaning that review processes for destructive mining and oil and gas projects will be fast-tracked.” —Marc Lee, CCPA
If the title of this post offends, it is intended to. It reflects my profound disrespect for a Prime Minister whose budget effectively mirrors his cold, calculating disregard for the “. . . more than 1,000,000 people per year [that are killed] from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.” (Source of quote: Scientific Case for Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change to Protect Young People and Nature by James Hansen, et al).
Here, in bulleted format, is my summary of two critiques of those aspects of Stephen “Ethical Oil” Harper’s Economic Action Plan 2012 that are, to paraphrase Marc Lee, “perversely labeled as ‘responsible resource development.’”
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Critique
A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits, by Marc Lee, Behind the Numbers: A blog from the CCPA, March 29, 2012.
- Guts environmental assessment – this is a framework economic document that includes gutting of environmental assessment in the name of the economy.
- A colonial vision of the economy as a quarry for foreign interests
- Resource giveaway — the country is to open to any foreign investor who wants our resources, and Canadians will politely have to clean up the mess afterwards.
- McJobs budget — there will be some Canadian jobs in all of this, most of them will be of short duration in the construction phase
- Uses atmosphere as a C02 Dump — known in the budget [as] “responsible resource development” . . . . This perverse label includes putting hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – pretty much the opposite of being responsible
- Fast track to planetary destruction — our penchant for planetary destruction just cannot happen fast enough. . . . environmental considerations will get lumped in with everything else, meaning that review processes for destructive mining and oil and gas projects will be fast-tracked
- Major economic projects reflect obscene priorities — the six projects highlighted as “major economic projects” — three oil and gas pipelines, a gold mine and a uranium mine — are indicative of the government’s priorities. . . . Major Projects Office currently has 70 projects on file, and the budget foresees 500 projects over the coming decade.
- Document full of euphoric exaggeration – “oil sands … [will] generate wealth that benefits all Canadians” . . . “Canadians will only reap the benefits that come from our natural resources if investments are made by the private sector to bring the resources to market”
- Paradoxically, few jobs in resource sector — As for “jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” . . . there are few jobs in the resource sector areas under consideration (mostly mining and oil and gas projects)
- As for “long-term” — this measure is focused on very short-term liquidation of Canadian resources for hefty profits but that imperil people in other countries and in the future.
- Environmental protection slashed — protecting the environment is also taking a hit as part of overall spending cuts . . . Environment Canada will get cut by $20 million in 2012/13 rising to $88 million in 2014/15 (an 8% cut). . . . Parks Canada gets a $6 million cut this year, rising to $29 million in 2014/15.
- Indispensable environmental research body scrapped — The National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment (NRTEE) has been scrapped, ostensibly because of an “expanded community of environmental stakeholders has demonstrated the capacity to provide analysis and policy advice to the Government” (NRTEE was one of the few federal voices that have acknowledged the challenge of climate change in a series of reports, while calling for action to reduce emissions, studying measures of doing so and making estimates of anticipated climate-related damages to the Canadian economy in future years. Their contributions clearly were not welcome in “don’t ask, don’t tell” Ottawa, and will be missed).
- “Climate” now a four-letter word — the term “climate” appears four times in the budget. Twice there is a passing reference to climate change, but really an afterthought. The other two times are in reference to investment climate.
Pembina Organization’s Critique
Budget 2012: Canada won’t spare a penny for clean energy by Ed Whittingham, March 30, 2012
- Harper’s Doublespeak — Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have been doggedly selling Canada as a “clean energy superpower”. While those words have always rung hollow to anybody tracking the global rise of the $1 trillion clean energy economy, after yesterday’s federal budget they simply ring false.
- One Big Step forward for Tar Sands, One Big Step backwards for humanity — The federal budget . . . will take Canada several steps further from environmentally responsible development of fossil fuel resources like the oilsands, while simultaneously undercutting progress on renewable energy and efficiency.
- Tar Sands – From Bad to Worse — When it comes to assessing and addressing the environmental impacts of oilsands development, things are poised to go from bad to worse
- Cuts to length of environmental reviews — New federal limits on the length of environmental review processes would also apply to projects such as the Northern Gateway pipeline
- Slash Environmental Assessment — the Harper government is slashing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s budget by 40 per cent and imposing arbitrary new timelines for the regulatory review of major industrial projects
- Changes to be retroactive — Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has confirmed changes will be applied to reviews on projects that are already underway, like the Northern Gateway pipeline review
- Harper’s “Faster is better” rule – the federal government’s new standard is not how well environmental assessment is done, but how fast. If this, my friends, is “responsible resource development” (the latest catchphrase out of Ottawa) then we’re in serious disagreement about the meaning of the word “responsible.”
- Fossil fuel industry still benefiting from past tax subsidies — federal subsidies to oil in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador totaled nearly $1.4 billion in 2009. There remains a significant amount of foregone tax revenue from the oil and gas sector.
- Harper screws the vulnerable — it’s hardly surprising that the government has decided to shut the doors of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). . . . NRTEE has been “the only national organization with a direct mandate from Parliament to engage Canadians in the generation and promotion of sustainable development advice and solutions.” Wiping out this respected think-tank while Canada still lacks a credible plan for achieving its own 2020 greenhouse has reduction targets will make it that much harder for Canada to do its fair share in addressing the climate challenge.
- No support for renewables — Budget 2012 contains no new federal support for residential renewable power generation or energy efficiency improvements
- Won’t meet 2020 targets — In 2010 [Pembina] estimated that Canada needed a tenfold increase in renewable power production to hit the federal government’s 2020 target of producing 90 per cent of its electricity from sources that don’t produce greenhouse gas pollution. . . . this budget doesn’t reflect the level of effort that’s needed to achieve that target.
- Plug pulled on ecoEnergy Retrofit program — no new energy efficiency initiatives were identified in the 2012 budget, and the ecoENERGY Retrofit—Homes program (which encouraged efficiency improvements in Canadian homes), was unexpectedly wrapped up early this year.
- Overall, a Big Step Backwards — It’s clear the government has spared hardly a penny for clean energy, choosing instead to encourage and expedite decidedly irresponsible energy production. When you roll it up, Budget 2012 is a near bust for clean energy and a step backwards in protecting the environment for Canadians.