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Any thoughts on energy generation and our environment?

News Release: Toby Barrett - October 31, 2008

Questions, and new power proposals, continue to surface during our local energy debate.

I invite all interested to the Jarvis Community Centre on November 20th 6pm- for an evening of discussion, display and presentation on electricity generation and our environment.

Last years Jarvis Symposium featured speakers and display tables on everything from solar to nuclear, coal gasification to carbon sequestration, wind power and more.

Keynote speaker Environment Commissioner Gord Miller, was on hand to frame the debate by stressing alternatives and their impacts in the constant struggle to meet energy needs.

In his annual report last year, Environment Commissioner Miller advised, The province should rethink its current plan to vette the new nuclear plan through the Ontario Energy Board. It should be subject to a full Environmental Assessment, going on to say that, Such a major, capital-intensive electricity plan deserves thorough scrutiny by environmental experts, as opposed to the Ontario Energy Board, which has traditionally focused its reviews on rates, cost and fairness.

In his annual report this year, Gord Miller highlights concerns that the Environmental Assessment (EA) process itself needs overhauling:

a number of perverse amendments to the EA process over the years mean that other approvals (e.g., the purchase of land) are being allowed to precede EA approval, making it extremely unlikely that proposed projects will subsequently be rejected through the EA process. Since 1996, 64 individual EA projects have been approved under the EA process, while only two individual EA projects have ever been refused.

While much has changed since our last symposium a regulation now to close coal production by 2014, an announcement from Bruce Power to option 1760 acres from US Steel for two nuclear reactors some things have not changed.

I continue to receive input - and questions - with regard to the potential of clean air technology and the future of Nanticokes coal plant; and the potential for solar, wind, and natural gas, and nuclear. My office polling over the past three years shows 70 per cent of respondents oppose new nuclear if there is a possibility of keeping the coal plant running.

It will be intriguing to see how stakeholders feel about these issues at this years Symposium. Will the ensuing year and a half of new and rumoured energy proposals, as well as further government directives to close coal and reduce carbon emissions, have an impact on local viewpoints. And will this Ontario government take into consideration the recommendations from our 2007 symposium keynote speaker when it comes to nuclear proposals and the EA process itself.

It was June 2006, when Premier McGuinty announced a $40 billion nuclear build, and rebuild, program. He also promised full public consultation before going forward. Since then, I have written two letters to the Premier requesting that 1. government hold public hearings on the future of electricity generation in our area; and 2. provide a cost comparison between nuclear generation and coal-fired generation that includes carbon capture and clean-air technology. I have yet to receive a response.

Given whats at stake I continue to press for government to conduct a comprehensive public consultation beyond EAs to ensure the area voices are heard before any further energy production decisions impacting our local communities are made.

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