Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Alberta Election - Liberals Reveal Carbon Levy Plan

 A federal carbon tax or cap and trade system has been rejected by Albertans in the past.  In that context the Alberta government imposed a carbon tax forcing companies that emit more than 100,00 tons of greenhouse gases annually to either reduce CO2 emissions per barrel by 12%, pay $15 per tonne into a technology fund or buy an offset against total emissions.  The money remains in Alberta.  With that background, Raj Sherman, Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, has revealed a plan, which he says, which would generate $1.8 Billion for research and green transportation initiatives.  The plan would be based on actual emissions.

"This announcement is a visionary announcement to green our economy (and) help improve Alberta's reputation with respect to carbon. Half of the money goes back to industry, to retool industry, to make sure they deal with their carbon issues, and half of it goes to green transportation for Alberta municipalities. What does that mean for Edmonton and Calgary? Three hundred mil-lion dollars a year that they can use for LRT or green transportation," said the Liberal leader.

The Alberta Oilsands have been the target of environmental activists and Raj Sherman's proposal is hoped to address this with making the oilsands more acceptable.  In some circles there is the belief that a carbon levy only enables emitters to sell off their emissions, accomplishing absolutely nothing when it comes to carbon reduction.

Sherman's vision sees a third of the levy proceeds to go to Edmonton and Calgary, while the remainder would go back to the industry to invest in green technology cleanup.  

While the emphasis should be on reducing carbon emissions, the allocation of the proceeds does little for rural Albertans, of which many still use unsafe gravel country roads.  Since this levy will be collected for all Albertans, some of that money should also be allocated to municipalities other than the two largest cities in the Province.  Perhaps a priority could be established to improve country roads and also to improve wireless service to rural communities.  

While the cities have necessarily the largest voice and of course votes, there are still over half a million rural Albertans.   It would be incumbent on any government to spread the wealth throughout the province and provide some infrastructure improvements.

We live in a Province that has a tremendous amount of wealth and resources, yet rural communities are often neglected.  Many rural Albertans have no rural mail delivery and by necessity use poor roads, often unsafe, to get their groceries, mail, healthcare and travel to work.  Perhaps it is time for those in the legislature to pay some attention to rural Albertans. 

Back to the carbon levy.   It is unlikely that any conservative voters would be swayed by this announcement, nor will it sway those voting for the New Democrats to move into the Liberal party camp.   

Also on the campaign trail on Tuesday were New Democratic Party Leader Brian Mason and Progressive Conservative Party Leader Alison Redford.  Mason talked to medical professionals and students at Concordia University, promising that his party would create a sustainable future for students.  Redford made more promises, focusing on advanced education.  She promised $650 Million that would enhance post-secondary facilities over three years, with a $650 million capital project.  $170 Million would be allocated to Norquest College, while $200 Million would go to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) to replace aging buildings in the business and health departments. 

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith took a day off from the elections campaign.

Expect more promises as Alberta moves closer to the April 23rd election. 

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