Monday, June 19, 2006

Crazy 'bout that mercury

The Star reports on yet another negative consequence of Ontario's decision to keep its coal-fired plants open into the next decade, as the decision now appears set to torpedo a national effort to reduce mercury emissions:
Sources say the Liberal government's recent decision to break a 2003 cornerstone campaign promise and keep open the province's pollution-spewing coal-fired generating plants well past 2009 is behind the policy U-turn.

Canada's federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers were poised last Friday to announce a reduction in the highly toxic mercury emissions by 50 per cent from 2003-04 levels by 2010.

But in a letter to Saskatchewan Environment Minister John Nilson, president of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten said the province is unable to keep the commitment.

While Broten claims Ontario is "the champion for mercury and air issues" among the environment ministers' collective, she offers no timetable for when Premier Dalton McGuinty's government could actually abide by standards approved by Ottawa and the other provinces and territories.
For now the end result is expected to be only a delay in the announcement, but Ontario's decision to back away from what was to have been a national commitment will do nothing but offer political cover for other governments who in turn repudiate either the mercury-emissions goal or other agreed environmental standards. And with the most powerful Lib government left in the country refusing to live up to even its existing environmental commitments, it'll be all the tougher for the federal party to plausibly claim interest in the environment as one of its core values, rather than a convenient campaign plank to be ignored after election time.

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