Wall upset about Ottawa's plan to shut down coal-fired power plants

On Monday, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the accelerated phase-out of coal power in Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Coal power to be phased out by 2030 under federal plan

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall isn't pleased with Ottawa's announcement Monday that coal power will be phased out by 2030. (CBC News)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is displeased with Ottawa's announcement about phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030.

On Monday, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the accelerated phase-out of coal power in Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Saskatchewan currently gets about 40 per cent of its power from coal.
In 2015, Saskatchewan's power came from the following sources. (SaskPower)

McKenna said Saskatchewan would get credit for carbon capture and sequestration programs like the one SaskPower is doing at its Boundary Dam Power Station.

She said she has had useful discussions with Saskatchewan Environment Minister Scott Moe and the two jurisdictions are talking about an "equivalency" agreement, which would give some flexibility to the phase-out.

"We want the equivalency agreement signed," Moe said. 

Moe, in reference to equivalency, said the regulations around coal plants would ideally be governed by the province rather than the federal government. 

"If we can do that so we can operate the regulations from a provincial level, recognize things like our fleet-wide emissions on where we're going with our targets on renewables and whatnot, we'll be able to work our way through this."

However, in a written statement, Wall said the announcement flies in the face of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pledge to work with the provinces to develop a pan-Canadian approach to climate change.

"The federal government has now violated that commitment for a second time by making its second major policy announcement in advance of the First Ministers' meeting in December: The announcement last month of a national carbon tax and now today's announcement of an accelerated phase out of coal-fired electrical generation," the statement from Wall's office said.

Both actions have "severely undermined" the December meeting, Wall said.

Saskatchewan has previously committed to moving to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Carbon sequestration and storage has been a cornerstone of Saskatchewan's program to fight climate change.

Wall says the federal plan to put a price on carbon will hurt the economy at a time when the resource sector is struggling.

Robin Campbell, president of the Coal Association of Canada, said the move away from coal to renewables like wind, for example, would result in an increased cost to the public. 

Campbell said power bills would rise because a wind project would need to be subsidized and the public would foot the bill. 

"Coal-fired generation in Canada is not the villain that people would like to think it is," Campbell said.

He referenced global greenhouse gas emission statistics and Canada's contributions of 1.6 per cent. Campbell said shutting down all coal-fired generation in Canada would not make a difference. 

Canada's global GHG emissions would only decrease by 0.135 per cent, he said. 

With files from Nahlia Bendali Amor


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