Environmental zealotry

The great thing about democracy is that – in theory – anyone can run for office. The worst thing about democracy is that anyone can run for office.

This industry is under attack because various environmental activists have managed to get elected to municipal, provincial and federal governments. These zealots have little patience for a pragmatic coordinated approach to dealing with climate change.

They want the world to go green and to go green tomorrow, with little regard to the costs to the average home and building owner, or to the many businesses and jobs that rely on fossil fuels.

Natural gas was touted just a few years by governments as a “clean fuel”. Ontario is replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas versions at enormous expense to take advantage of natural gas’ cleaner burning properties.

But natural gas is now the target as governments aim for a “carbon neutral” environment, which is simply political doublespeak for a ban on natural gas. In Ontario, the government has now adopted the ludicrous position that electricity from nuclear plants is “clean energy” because it doesn’t produce carbon. Never mind the huge environmental concern over radioactive waste and how to dispose of it.

We’ve reported previously on what appears to be little more than a pissing match between different jurisdictions to be greener than the next one. Vancouver city council makes no bones about the fact that they’re out for the distance record with their “Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.”

Part of that includes replacing conventional natural gas with renewable natural gas (RNG) – methane from landfills and agricultural operations. Fortis B.C., which currently produces one quarter of one percent of B.C.’s natural gas needs from four RNG plants, points out that it would be impossible to meet all needs from that source. Is RNG better than conventional natural gas from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective? It’s hard to find figures that would support that, but it certainly is more expensive to produce.

Faced with political zealots re-writing environmental laws on sometimes questionable information with little regard to affordability or even what’s possible, the entire industry needs to work together to defend our interests.

I find it troubling that one of the industry’s leading associations chooses to take a “fuel neutral” stance when many, if not the majority, of its members make their livings through manufacturing, distribution and installation of natural gas equipment.

The federal government and the provinces are working on a national plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the national building code process. We need to stand up to the zealots that have little patience for this pragmatic approach. Our livelihoods are at stake.

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March 2016
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