The leaves may be starting to turn, but the bad air season is still with us. Ontario has now had 50 smog days for the year, and we are steadily closing the gap on the horrendous spring, summer and fall of 2005 when the province recorded more than 60 smog days in total. With muggy weather in the forecast for this week, we’ll once again have Ontario’s No. 1 smog recipe in action: dirty coal plants running full out to meet demand for cooling on days with poor air quality.
Are scrubbers the answer? Not really. These expensive end-of-pipe solutions are more like a band aid than a solution — a band aid that could cost up to $1.6 billion to install on Nanticoke alone and would reduce the total emissions of our coal plants by only 14/100ths of 1%. For the same money, we could make tremendous investments in efficiency and conservation, renewable energy and natural gas-fired combined heat and power, all of which will be dramatically cleaner than even scrubbed-up coal. And like many end-of-pipe solutions, scrubbers really just move the problem around. The little mercury they do capture, for example, ends up in ash that Ontario Power Generation sends to cement plants, which put it up the stack again.
And, of course, scrubbers do absolutely nothing about greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s one big hole in a $1.6 billion-dollar band aid solution.
The Province of Ontario has issued a legally-binding regulation which requires the complete phase-out of our dirty coal plants in 2014. Please contact John Tory and ask him if he believes that Ontario should aggressively promote energy conservation, renewable energy and natural gas-fired combined heat and power so that we can phase out coal by 2014 or sooner and keep the lights on. Mr. Tory can be reached at John.Tory@pc.ola.org.
Please pass this message on to your friends.
Jack Gibbons, Chair
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 240