McGuinty launching green fund
Submitted by OCAA on Mon, 06/18/2007 - 23:30.
The Toronto Star
Offers $650 million to build fuel-efficient cars here and create clean energy alternatives in climate plan
Premier Dalton McGuinty will today launch a new $650 million fund encouraging manufacturers to build "cleaner, greener" cars and other products to curb climate change, the Star has learned.
The new fund would be in addition to a $500 million Ontario Automotive Investment Strategy that attracted $7 billion in new factories and investment – including Toyota, General Motors and Ford.
Grants from the five-year, $650 million fund will be available to both carmakers and other types of manufacturers, sources say.
These include generators of clean energy, such as solar and wind power, and makers of cleaner fuels, among other products.
The fund is a cornerstone of McGuinty's platform for the Oct. 10 provincial election.
"I'll be saying to Detroit and I'll be saying to Japan ... let's partner and let's make them cleaner than they've ever been made before," McGuinty said yesterday at a meeting of the Toronto Star editorial board. "We know there are global markets to be exploited here."
The premier, who did not give details of the plan, will formally announce the move at the General Motors complex in Oshawa today.
He will also meet today with Toronto-based maker of ZENN (Zero Emission No Noise) electric vehicles that are sold in 47 U.S. states but are not allowed on Canadian roads due to provincial safety regulations, including the Highway Traffic Act.
McGuinty said he plans to change laws to allow such cars.
"Cleaner is a function of aerodynamics, it's a function of fuel, it's a function of energy efficiencies. All of those are part and parcel of aspects to making a cleaner, greener car," he said.
"GM is making their hydrogen fuel-cell cars here, but let's make plug-in electrics here, let's make the new (electric Chevrolet) Volt here."
General Motors is planning its first hybrid autos at its Oshawa truck plant next year and Ford will start building hybrid cross-over utility vehicles in Oakville before the end of the decade.
Honda is also constructing a new plant in Alliston to assemble its latest fuel-efficient engines beginning next year.
The manufacturers that have started such programs will be eligible for grants under the new fund.
The $650 million fund will probably give a further boost to about 25 green projects already on the go to make vehicle powertrains, fuels, materials, recyclable parts and production methods more energy-efficient, said Peter Frise, chief executive officer of Auto21, a network of universities, governments and companies.
The move to encourage carmakers and other manufacturers to build more efficient and environmentally responsible product comes the day after the government revealed its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
McGuinty said if the Liberals are re-elected Oct. 10, emissions would be slashed to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2014.
That's two years after the 2012 deadline for the same reduction called for under Kyoto Protocol that's backed by the NDP, but more aggressive than Ottawa's target of 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020 or the Progressive Conservatives' 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
A significant chunk of that goal – 44 per cent – will be achieved by phasing out Ontario's four coal-fired generating plants in Nanticoke, Lambton, Atikokan and Thunder Bay by 2014.
The government will enact regulations forcing the generators to close by that date.
Previously, the Liberals had abandoned a pledge made in 2003 to close the plants by this year due to concerns about a sufficient supply of electricity.
The premier said he hopes to further cut greenhouse gases to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 per cent below the benchmark by 2050.
New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) said McGuinty's plan is electioneering that "falls short on credibility" because it's based on his twice-broken promise to close coal plants.
"There's an election coming. I think that's why you're seeing it today. If he's serious, if this is just not an election promise, recall the Legislature, put the measures before the Legislature and let's vote on them," said Tabuns.
Progressive Conservative MPP Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Victoria-Brock) lamented the Liberals are continuing to reject scrubbers on coal plants that would reduce air pollution – even though they wouldn't curb greenhouse gases.
The trouble with coal
Premier Dalton McGuinty yet again has altered his controversial promise to close coal-fired power plants at Nanticoke (Canada's largest single polluter), Lambton, Atikokan and Thunder Bay.
September 2002: McGuinty, then opposition leader, pledges to close the plants by 2007. He repeats the promise throughout the 2003 election campaign.
April 2005: Three years after the Progressive Conservative government announced it was slated for closure, the Lakeview plant in Mississauga is shut down by the Liberals. It's demolished in June 2006.
June 2005: The shutdown date for the other coal plants is amended to 2009 due to power supply concerns.
June 2006: A report from the province's power monitoring agency, the Independent Electricity System Operator, urges "a significant delay" in the end of coal-fired generation and the 2009 date is abandoned.
Yesterday: McGuinty announces he will enact a regulation quickly mandating the shutdown of the plants by 2014.
But On the bright side ...
McGuinty revealed yesterday he has abandoned his polluting gas-powered mower at his Ottawa home for a more environmentally friendly electric model. In Toronto, he uses a rotary push mower.
With files from Tony Van Alphen