Paying down the Environmental Deficit

Didn’t happen.

The Federal Government introduced their budget today. I have long believed that environmental challenges we face will not be solved until Finance Ministers and their departments are on board.

The budget has a couple of interesting things that would seem to favour the environment. There is a $250 million fund to help car companies research fuel efficient vehicle designs. I guess that is good. Unless you are paying them to do what they were already doing.

One really positive measure is that they have included Ground Source Heat Pumps in class 43.2 depreciation, which offers a 50% declining balance tax write off. Importantly, they have removed the restriction on the use of this, so that instead of just being used for manufacturers, processors, mines, and energy companies, any company can use it. That will make a real difference to companies with taxable profits. I would hope retailers, wholesalers, and office buildings would make use of this. Ground source heat uses 3-4 times less energy than other sources, and therefore has less emissions. This could be very significant. And it is proven technology, here today, that works.
There is $250 million for demonstrating carbon capture, and accelerated depreciation for carbon dioxide pipelines. I remain a skeptic on this technology – it has never been demonstrated before on a commercial basis. But OK, lets try it. It is a lot of money to throw out on an unproven technology. Even the George Bush is backing off additional government support for this gravy train championed by the fossil industry.

There is accelerated depreciation for train locomotives. That is good. We need to encourage investment in rail infrastructure. Moving goods by rail uses as much as ten times less fuel than truck.

There is $300 million more for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Unbelievable. When will it end? After 50 years, and billions in subsidies, shouldn’t nuclear be able to stand on its own?

Disappointingly, the budget cancels the feebates on 2009 model cars that they introduced last year to provide fees on gas guzzlers, and rebates on fuel efficient vehicles. A giant step backward. If they won’t influence behaviour with fees, there is only one option – mandatory fuel efficiency.

So as many steps backwards as forward for the environment. And another opportunity missed. Our environmental deficit increased today.

But you think I am a bit upset?  You should read what Tyler Hamilton has to say.

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