Wall Wants It Both Ways on #carbontax

The Premier says Saskatchewan doesn’t make a difference in world pollution because of our small population, despite our world-record pollution rate when measured on a per-capita basis. Then he argues to keep Canadian money from going to where in the world it will make the biggest difference in reducing emissions immediately. A journalist asked him why he wants to do that, he’s not the “Premier of the World”, so why not do what he can in Saskatchewan instead? He thinks Saskatchewan has the best chance to succeed in finding solutions for other jurisdictions. I think that’s a stretch since he hasn’t found or implemented a solution for little-old Saskatchewan. He’ll pump up nuclear and CCS, both of which are losing the race to renewables.

The Baseload Mistake

One of the hangups some of my friends have about converting the electrical grid to renewable energy, has been the difficulty in storing electricity generated for use when energy input is reduced. Tesla Energy should help with that logistical problem.

In the meantime, we’re dealing with homes, power grids, and even an economy that cannot easily survive even short interruptions of constant energy input. That has to change to make our way of life even close to sustainable.

Is “baseload” power from coal even that important in grids of the near future?

“We all know that the wind doesn’t blow consistently and the sun doesn’t shine every day,” he said, “but the nuclear industry would have you believe that humankind is smart enough to develop techniques to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time human kind is so dumb we can’t figure out a way to store solar electricity overnight. To me that doesn’t make sense.”

Arnie Gunderson is right that it shouldn’t sit right with people.

Forbes wonders if nuclear power is now going to die. Not anytime soon, there’s too many billions of dollars already sunk into the technology and that industry is not going to go peacefully into the night as it runs out of money to manage security for all of the nuclear and industrial wastes it’s created.

Take a Narrow Health Site Survey

This sort of survey isn’t going to make the best website possible for our country.

I found the survey easy to take, but the results will be skewed toward the menu options listed, instead of answering the question ask which was “where would I look for X”, which is “Google”. Making sure existing links continue to work forever, would be the best way to ensure material is locatable by the public.

Solar Power for all Saskatchewan households

A recent poll has shown that nuclear power doesn’t have majority support in Saskatchewan, and I think that’s fine. My own family has mixed attitudes toward it. My parents, who own 17 solar panels, wouldn’t mind seeing nuclear power in Saskatchewan, while I oppose the waste-producing nuclear technology available today.

A 2010 study by the CCPA shows “nuclear power has the potential to triple current electricity rates for Saskatchewan consumers.” If we’re going to pay more than we do for Estevan’s coal and Manitoba’s hydro, I want us to invest in solar power.

The massive Ivanpah solar power facility that opened this year for California consumers should be considered as an option for sunny and vast Saskatchewan. Smaller solar plants such as this type could be constructed with mostly Saskatchewan and Canadian materials, knowledge, and labour. Built at the 3 year pace set by California, we could jump to having solar power overtake some fossil fuels as our electricity provider, before 2020.

Given that there are about 410,000 households in Saskatchewan, we’d need about 3 Ivanpah style solar power plants to provide electricity to every home in the province. We can do it, and we should.

Canadian Uranium Subsidies to Kazakhstan

Here’s an important story for Canadians, and Saskatchewanians in particular, which doesn’t have to do with the Riders or the Senate scandal.

The Green Party of Saskatchewan (GPS) wants to know why the Wall Government is still subsidizing Cameco. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently reported that Cameco owes $850-million in back taxes. And just recently Canada and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to jointly invest $200-million to develop a uranium conversion facility capable of feeding 40 nuclear reactors in Kazakhstan.

If uranium is profitable, then Kazakhstan should be able to build a uranium conversion facility without Canadian tax dollars. Why are the hard earned dollars of Saskatchewan taxpayers being used to build an expensive uranium conversion facility in Kazakhstan? This is not right. Saskatchewan people do not pay taxes so that our governments can squander that money in risky foreign ventures. Cameco’s back taxes should remind all Saskatchewan people that the uranium industry would not exist without government subsidies. If we cut uranium subsidies, this industry will die a natural death. The Wall Government should sell its shares in Cameco and urge the federal government to stop using our tax dollars for risky foreign ventures.

Victor Lau, Leader of the GPS
Regina, Saskatchewan
(306)737-5345

Fukushima Keeps Staying The Worst

It’s always been /worse/. And it just keeps staying tragically the same. It’s remained a global crisis with hemispheric deadly consequences. Japan could still wind up largely uninhabitable (if it isn’t already). Canada could suffer directly a great deal.

Steam and non-water vapour has been off-gassed since the beginning.

The supporters of nuclear power have always been wrong about the extent of the damage to our environment. We have hundreds of tons of highly dangerous waste water piling up by the day at Fukushima, with no way to stop it. Can research and a better plan come soon enough to save us?

ADDED: May writes to ministers.

Coal Hard Truth #skpoli

The Leader-Post may be giving kudos to the Sask Party’s singular focus on Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), but I won’t be. The primary reason CCS (clean coal) is getting so much Conservative and Sask Party government funding, is because it’s a hidden subsidy to the oil industry so that they can recover more oil from otherwise exhausted oil fields.

“We have a great story to tell,” Wall said.

We need more than a fairy tale, or a Sask Party narrative to save us from climate change. We need significant improvements in energy efficiency in our homes and transportation utilization, as well as plenty of increased investment in renewable energy.

On the question of overall provincial support for the environment, the NDP Opposition correctly notes the Sask. Party government cut funding for climate change activities by 73 per cent in the past two years. This is not exactly a great record for Wall when he goes to Pittsburgh or Washington to tout Saskatchewan’s clean energy.

Friends recently told me that PARC at the UofR had been cut significantly, since I last noted on my blog that PARC was a significant admission by the Sask Party that climate change is coming, and will be a huge economic and quality of life game changer. The lack of meaningful investment in renewable energy leaves Saskatchewan behind in the global economic situation emerging.

One year ago, the opposite from the oil industry:

“Our decision was essentially based on the fact that we could not see a way to make the economics of our CCS project work as we originally intended,” said Don Wharton, vice-president of policy and sustainability at TransAlta.

He said markets for pure carbon didn’t develop as expected, and federal and provincial governments took no steps to recognize the value of reduced emissions by implementing a price on carbon, for example, or a cap-and-trade system.

In short, despite nearly $800 million in government subsidies, the company had no incentive to invest in CCS.

The “Clean Coal” lie rolls on. Now it has a new timeline for implementation. Let’s collectively watch it be missed (again).

The government boasted at last week’s Boundary Dam symposium that the project will be up and running this fall and completed by next April, on time and on budget. It will reduce CO2 emissions at the plant by 90 per cent (one million tonnes a year) by shipping emissions 60 kilometres to Weyburn’s enhanced oil recovery project.

From 2009:

“The committee will complete work on the development phase by August 31, 2009, including a full project plan, engineering design, business plan, detailed budget and construction timeline.

With the financial support of the Governments of Canada and the United States, construction of the plant could begin as early as September 2009 and the plant could be operational as early as the summer of 2011. The goal for the reference plant is to test a range of technologies in the capture of up to one million tonnes of CO2 over a four-year period.”