With the government’s announcement that all coal burning will cease at the Nanticoke and Lambton plants by the end of 2013, the dirty coal era is ending in Ontario. This represents a huge environmental and health victory for all Ontarians and we congratulate the Liberal Government for this major accomplishment. We’d also like to thank the Progressive Conservative, New Democratic and Green parties for continuing to support the coal phase out through a number of elections while holding the government’s feet to the fire on getting it done.
When the Ontario Clean Air Alliance brought forward the idea of phasing out coal use in 1997, it was seen as a bold – and quite possibly crazy – idea. But we persevered and gained important allies, like the Ontario Medical Association and the late Dr. Sheela Basrur, who endorsed our call to end coal use.
There have been highs and lows since then. The announcement in 2001 that the Lakeview coal plant would be closed and its spectacular demolition in 2006 were definite highs. The commitment by then Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty in 2002 to phase out all coal use by 2007 was another big moment. And the promise that same year by the government of Ernie Eaves to phase out coal by 2015 was the icing on the cake.
There have been delays, and we all would have liked to arrive at this point sooner, but Ontario has now cut coal use to a tiny fraction of it what it was when we got started – from 25% down to less than 3% of our electricity supply. And now the government has taken our advice to finish the phase out as soon as possible, essentially wrapping it up a year ahead of schedule (For the record, two units at Thunder Bay will remain online, but we expect they will see little if any use between now and the final phase out deadline of 2014).
We’d like to thank all of you for making this enormous victory possible. It was your letters, emails, phone calls and doorstep chats with election candidates that convinced every major political party in Ontario to endorse phasing out coal. Without such a strong public outcry to address the province’s No. 1 industrial source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, we would not be where we are today. You did it and you should be proud of what you have accomplished – the No. 1 greenhouse gas reduction action in North America.
Thank you from all of us at the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.