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NEWS: Maxim coal plant rushed to avoid new federal regulations

The Canadian Press reports, “Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent has outlined proposed regulations for coal-fired electricity generation… (In Saskatchewan on Friday), Kent said the rules will include a performance standard for new coal-fired plants and older units that have reached the end of their life. …A draft (of the proposed regulations) is to be published in the Canada Gazette on August 27 for a 60-day public consultation period. Kent said the regulations are scheduled to come into effect July 1, 2015.”

But the article highlights, “Questions have already been raised about whether a coal-fired power plant in northern Alberta was deliberately rushed to avoid new rules. Earlier this summer, the Alberta Utilities Commission granted an interim approval to Calgary-based Maxim Power to build a 500-megawatt coal-fired expansion to a generating plant near its mine near Grande Cache, Alta. The approval came after a letter to the commission from Maxim in which company lawyers asked for a quick approval. Maxim’s letter said having to abide by the federal legislation would likely kill the $1.7-billion expansion, which would emit about three million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year — roughly twice the carbon dioxide of an equivalent natural-gas-fired plant.”

On August 11, the Council of Canadians joined more than 40 organizations from across Canada in an open letter to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent urging him to launch an immediate review of the proposal from Maxim Power to build the coal plant. The open letter states, “In our view, all coal-fired power plants need to face regulations to, at a minimum, reduce their considerable emissions of greenhouse gas pollution. Given the need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both the short and long term, it is simply no longer acceptable to build new conventional coal plants in Canada, period.”

TAKE ACTION: Furthermore, on June 23 of last year, when then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice pledged to introduce federal regulations to phase out the construction of new conventional coal plants, he said, “We will guard against any rush to build non-compliant coal plants in the interim.” To tell Environment Minister Peter Kent to keep his government’s promise on this, please respond to our action alert at http://canadians.org/action/2011/MaximCoal.html.