April 18, 2006

Clean coal facts go up in smoke

Recently, there has been a flurry of calls from the Association of Major Power Consumers (AMPCO) and the editorial board of the Globe and Mail calling for Ontario to consider sticking with end-of-pipe pollution controls instead of phasing-out dirty coal.  But while it might be in the short-term financial interest of AMPCO members for Ontario to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on pollution control half-measures, it makes no sense whatsoever for the province as a whole. 
 
Here’s a quick review of some of the key issues:
 
Replacement power. 
 
The Globe says the coal phase-out will leave Ontario reliant on power imports.  The fact is, however, that Premier McGuinty has repeatedly stated that Ontario will not phase-out its coal plants until we have the necessary clean replacement supplies to meet our electricity needs.  Ontario is making good progress in securing Made-in-Ontario replacement power and the potential to produce more through increased efficiency, combined heat and power generation and new renewables is huge.  These sorts of initiatives would put Ontario in a much better competitive position than wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on end-of-pipe half-measures.
 
Clean coal really just slightly less dirty coal
 
According to the Globe: “While true ‘clean’ coal does not exist yet, there is ‘cleaner coal,’ which has reduced levels of pollutants such as sulphur and mercury.”
 
You don’t have to look further than the Lambton Generating Station to see the gaping hole in this argument.  Lambton’s Unit 4 is the “cleanest” coal-fired boiler in Ontario, but it is far from clean.  Its sulphur dioxide emissions rate, for example, is 49 times greater than that of a new natural gas-fired power plant.  Sulphur dioxide causes smog, asthma attacks, heart disease, lung disease and death.
 
AMPCO, meanwhile, has asked Premier McGuinty to replace the province’s existing coal plants  with “new high-efficiency coal units with all possible, best available emissions control technologies installed by 2011.”  According to AMPCO, under this so-called “clean coal” option, Ontario’s electricity-related, climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions would rise by 27% between 2006 and 2025.  On the other hand, according to AMPCO’s analysis, if Premier McGuinty keeps his coal phase-out promise, Ontario’s electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions will fall by 77% by 2025 and by 90% by 2011.  Which is the better solution?
 
Phasing-out coal is the lowest cost option for Ontario to achieve dramatic reductions in its smog-causing emissions and to achieve compliance with its Kyoto Protocol climate change target for 2010.
 
It’s time to let “clean coal” advocates know that the people of Ontario do not want ineffective half-measures, even if it means some short-term cost savings for their companies.  Molson Breweries is an AMPCO member (for others, click here).  Please contact Kevin Boyce, CEO of Molson Breweries, at  kevin.boyce@molson.com and ask him why Molson wants Premier McGuinty to break his promise to phase-out our dirty coal plants by 2009. 
 
Please send us a copy of your email to Mr. Boyce – contact@cleanairalliance.org .

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you

Jessica Fracassi
Communications & Membership Manager
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601
Email: info@cleanair.web.ca
Website: www.cleanairalliance.org