Nuclear power: Expensive, Irresponsible & Unnecessary

Green Party Canada Blog: Jim Harris - 25 March 2008

The Ontario Liberal Government is committed to wasting $40 billion of taxpayers' dollars on nuclear power. The GPO's response: nuclear power is horrifically expensive, irresponsible and unnecessary.

And the world's leading expert on energy efficiency agrees with the GPO. Amory Lovins recently (March 12, 2008) testified to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to the US Congress. His presentation was entitled Why expanding nuclear power would reduce and retard climate protection and energy security . . . but can't survive free-market capitalism. It's attached to this blog for your download or you can get it at It is well worth the read.

GPO Opposes Nuclear Expansion in Ontario

Our government is trying to scare us into thinking the lights will go out if we don't pour billions and billions of taxpayer dollars into new nuclear plants. It's unconscionable! There are other, better ways to meet our electricity demands, including renewable energy sources and conservation. Ontarians deserve to get the best value for our money and our children and grandchildren deserve a safe and healthy future.

We are going in the wrong direction!

Nuclear energy is fiscally irresponsible. How can we even consider investing in more nuclear power when we haven't paid off the $19.3 billion debt that is still outstanding from the existing plants?


a) The nuclear power plant in Darlington that was originally budgeted at $3.4 billion ended up costing Ontario nearly $15 billion to complete.

b) The Bruce nuclear power plant is only partially complete, yet it is $300 Million over budget already. This represents a 10% cost overrun.

Nuclear power is NOT a cost-effective solution.

Nuclear power does not create jobs in the new green economy.

Nuclear power and the mining of uranium in Ontario pose a significant risk to the health and environment of this province and its citizens. The risk of contracting Leukemia to people living around nuclear plants and waste storage and maintenance issues are examples of things that could all be easily avoided with renewable energy.

Ontario has the potential to become the most energy efficient jurisdiction in North America, but we need to support and encourage our citizens' ingenuity and innovation. Their success will not only solve our energy problems, but also boost Ontario's global competitiveness and ensure its future economic success.

By committing Ontario to nuclear power for the next 50 years, the McGuinty government is causing Ontario to miss out on many new green jobs.

There is a coming green economic boom and we are going to miss out on the economic benefits by tying ourselves to yesterday's energy answers: Ontario needs to look to the future.

In Europe, Asia and even the United States, new, innovative, green companies are emerging to help build a cleaner and safer energy future for the world. Instead of encouraging Ontario's participation, the Liberals are more interested in placating the nuclear lobby, who stand to make a fortune at taxpayers' expense.

Ontario is at a crossroads in its history.

We need strong and visionary leadership to guide us into the future. The ramifications of missing out on the next great global economic boom will be devastating for a province that prides itself on the competitiveness of its highly skilled and educated workforce.

We will lose jobs as a result of this decision.

It will cost Ontario taxpayers over $40 billion to bring the planned nuclear reactors online and to upgrade the grid to support the new power plants.

Instead, the Green Party believes Ontario should implement a true-cost pricing plan for electricity to encourage efficiency and invest $16 billion over 15 years in conservation and demand-management programs.

Jack Gibbons recent report from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance calls for Ontario to eliminate subsidies and move to full-cost pricing for electricity outlines our path to make Ontario more competitive and improve our efficiency.

New York, a comparable US state in terms of climate and jurisdiction, is almost three time more energy efficient than Ontario. If we tripled our efficiency by incorporating the right price for electricity and the right price for labour - which includes reducing our income tax - we could manage our energy demand on a much more effective scale.

Carbon Tax / Tax Shifting:

British Columbia became the first jurisdiction to implement a carbon tax, a key tenet of the Green Party's sustainability plans for Ontario.

Ontario should follow B.C.'s lead by introducing its own carbon levy as part of a larger tax shifting policy to fight climate change and air pollution," he said. "We should be paying less tax on our personal and business incomes and more tax on the resources we consume. It's the fairest and most effective way to stimulate the economy and encourage green (FdeJ 8:33) investment.

"A carbon tax will help reduce greenhouse gases while encouraging a greener, more efficient and more sustainable economy. "

In order to mitigate the affects of energy prices for low income Ontarians, we would raise the personal exemption up to $11,000 as part of a revenue neutral tax shift.

In addition, we believe that the way in which the Healthcare premium is levied can be improved. Instead of charging a surcharge for health care, which is essentially a tax on jobs, Ontario should roll the health care premium tax into a carbon tax. By paying for health care on our energy bill instead of through income taxes gives people a choice of how much tax they wish to pay.

Sources of GPO statements above:


Jim Harris is the past leader of the Green Party of Canada.

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