Media releases | August 16, 2011

Public Interest Alberta is one of more than 40 organizations who signed on to an open letter to Minister Kent.Please see the following release from the Climate Action Network Canada, as well as the letter below, or click here to access them on the Climate Action Network website.
EDMONTON—OTTAWA – More than 40 diverse civil society organizations from across Canada have signed on to a letter calling on federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to protect the integrity of Canada’s forthcoming coal regulations by ensuring that this proposed new coal plant is not permitted to evade Ottawa’s rules.On August 10, Maxim Power Corp. received final approval from Alberta’s utilities regulator to build a coal-fired power plant that would start operating just prior to federal regulations on coal-fired electricity coming into effect. If the company is successful, this would earn it a 45-year free pass to pollute.The federal government is expected to publish a draft of its regulations for coal-fired power plants in the coming weeks.“Coal is the worst offender among fossil fuels when it comes to producing the pollution that cause global warming,” says Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre. “Studies have shown that Alberta can meet its future electricity needs without building new coal plants by ramping up energy efficiency and investing in cleaner energy.”When the government announced its plans for new regulations on coal-fired electricity last year, then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice committed to “guard against any rush to build non-compliant coal plants” before the federal regulations take effect in 2015.However, Maxim Power explicitly asked for, and obtained, an accelerated approval from Alberta’s utilities regulator in order to ensure that its proposed plant could avoid being subject to the regulations. In documents filed with the Alberta Utilities Commission, Maxim’s lawyers explained that they met with Environment Minister Peter Kent to understand how their plant could be “accommodated” by the federal regulatory proposal.“Minister Kent’s role is to protect Canada’s environment and the health of Canadians,” says Gideon Forman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Environment Canada can help foster a safe and sustainable future by phasing out all of this country's coal plants."The letter, addressed to Minster Kent, makes the case against building new conventional coal plants in Canada, instead supporting the development of renewable energy like wind and solar. The signatories request that Minister Kent ensure that the Maxim proposal is not fast tracked to evade Ottawa’s pending regulations."In this day and age, using coal to produce power is an outright injustice against millions of people and species as well as future generations,” says Scott Harris of Council of Canadians “Canadians must stand up against the Maxim coal project and all other coal projects to end this climate crime.”More than 40 organizations from across Canada, including environmental, faith, business, and public interest groups, have added their voice to this critical issue. Canada’s, and the world’s, dangerous addiction to fossil fuels must come to an end if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Organizations are calling on Minister Kent to refocus his efforts on showing leadership in building the clean energy economy that Canadians deserve.-xxx-The letter can be found below.For further media inquires:Hannah McKinnon
Climate Action Network Canada
613-276-7791Gideon Forman
Executive Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
647-703- 5957.Scott Harris
Prairies Regional Organizer
Council of Canadians
780-429-4500 Canada Green Building Council – Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment – Canadian Council of Imams – Canadian Federation of Students – Citizens Advocating Use of Sustainable Energy – Citizen’s Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario – Climate Action Network Canada - Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment – Conservation Council of New Brunswick – Council of Canadians – David Suzuki Foundation – Ecology Action Centre – Ecology Ottawa – Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society – Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island – Environmental Defence – Équiterre – For Our Grandchildren – ForestEthics – Friends of the Earth Canada – Georgian Triangle Earth Day Celebrations – Greenpeace – Living Oceans Society – Manitoba Wildlands – Ontario Clean Air Alliance – Ontario Humanist Society – Oxfam Canada – Peace River Environmental Society – Pembina Institute – Polaris Institute – Post Carbon Toronto – Public Interest Alberta – Saskatchewan Environmental Society – Saskatchewan Eco Network – Sierra Club of Canada – Sierra Youth Coalition – Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee – – Sustainability Solutions Group – United Church of Canada – Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta – Voters Taking Action on Climate Change – Waterloo Public Interest Research Group – Windfall Ecology Centre – World Wildlife Fund – Yukon Conservation SocietyAugust 10, 2011The Honourable Peter Kent
Minister of the Environment
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3Dear Minister Kent,As representatives of Canadian First Nations, environmental, faith, labour, health, youth and international development organizations, we are writing to urge you to launch an immediate review of the appropriateness of Maxim Power's proposed coal-fired Milner expansion project, in light of the federal government's future regulations on coal-fired electricity generation.As you know, Maxim Power Corp. recently received approval from Alberta's Utilities Commission for a 500-megawatt supercritical coal plant, which would be located north of Grande Cache, Alberta. The company plans to commission the plant just before the federal regulations on coal-fired electricity take effect.In June 2010, former Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced that the federal government would adopt regulations specifying a performance standard for greenhouse gas emissions from certain coal-fired power plants. Though the regulations would only apply beginning in July 2015, Minister Prentice assured Canadians that the government would not allow companies to avoid the regulations by rushing new plants into service. He said: "We will guard against any rush to build non-compliant coal plants in the interim."Unfortunately, it appears that that is exactly what Maxim Power is intending to do. Documents filed by Maxim Power with Alberta's utilities regulator show that the company is indeed attempting to rush a non-compliant coal-fired power plant into service, beginning operations before the government's July 2015 deadline.A letter from Maxim Power's lawyers to the Alberta Utilities Commission (dated June 7, 2011), indicates that it is Maxim's intent to avoid being subject to the future federal regulations, and that Maxim officials met with you to understand how their proposal could avoid the impact of said regulations.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.We are wri
ting to you to seek your assurance that you will uphold the promise made by this government and ensure that Maxim Power's coal proposal - if it proceeds at all -is fully subject to the performance standard to be outlined in the future federal regulations for coal-fired electricity generation.We understand that a draft of the proposed federal regulations on coal-fired electricity will likely be published soon. This announcement gives you an important opportunity to clarify to Canadians that you will indeed "guard against" proposals like Maxim's, by taking the measures needed to ensure that Maxim Power's new coal plant faces the same regulations as new plants commissioned after July 1, 2015.Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.Signed:Canada Green Building Council, Saskatchewan Chapter
Ian Stewart, ChairCanadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Gideon Forman, Executive DirectorCanadian Council of Imams
Habeeb Ali, SecretaryCanadian Federation of Students
Roxanne Dubois, ChairCitizens Advocating Use of Sustainable Energy
Roger Gagne, TreasurerCitizens’ Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Derek Coronado, CoordinatorClimate Action Network Canada/ Réseau Action Climat Canada
Graham Saul, Executive DirectorCoalition on the Niagara Escarpment
Robert Patrick, PresidentConservation Council of New Brunswick
David Coon, Executive DirectorCouncil of Canadians
Maude Barlow, National ChairpersonDavid Suzuki Foundation
Morag Carter, Program Director, Climate Change and Clean EnergyEcology Action Centre
Brennan Vogel, Climate Change and Energy CoordinatorEcology Ottawa
Trevor Hache, Policy CoordinatorEdmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society
David Parker, TreasurerEnvironmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island
Gary Schneider, Co-chairEnvironmental Defence
Matt Price, Campaigns DirectorÉquiterre
Steven Guilbeault, Deputy DirectorFor Our Grandchildren
Anthony Ketchum, PresidentForestEthics
Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy CampaignerFriends of the Earth Canada
Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive OfficerGeorgian Triangle Earth Day
Douglas Nadler, Founder and DirectorGreenpeace
Bruce Cox, Executive DirectorLiving Oceans Society
Jennifer Lash, Executive DirectorManitoba Wildlands
Gaile Whelan Enns, DirectorOntario Clean Air Alliance
Angela Bischoff, OutreachOntario Humanist Society
Mary Beaty and Dr Gail McCabe, ChaplainsOxfam Canada
Robert Fox, Executive DirectorPeace River Environmental Society
Bob Cameron, PresidentPembina Institute
Ed Whittington, Executive DirectorPolaris Institute
Tony Clarke, Executive DirectorPost Carbon Toronto
Jeff Berg, ChairPublic Interest Alberta
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive DirectorSaskatchewan Environmental Society
Ann Coxworth, Research AdvisorSaskatchewan Eco Network
Paddy Tutty, AdministratorSierra Club of Canada
John Bennet, Executive DirectorSierra Youth Coalition
Mark Hanlon, National DirectorThe Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee
Jule Asterisk, Vice
Jane Kilthei, OrganizerSustainability Solutions Group
Rebecca Foon, DirectorUnited Church of Canada
Jim Hodgson, Acting Executive Minister, Partners in Mission UnitVegans and Vegetarians of Alberta
David Parker, DirectorVoters Taking Action on Climate Change
Kevin Washbrook, DirectorWaterloo Public Interest Research Group
Reena Reddy, Coordinator of Projects and Organizational DevelopmentWindfall Ecology Centre
Brent Kopperson, Executive DirectorWorld Wildlife Fund
Josh Laughren, Climate and Energy Program DirectorYukon Conservation Society
Karen Baltgailis, Executive DirectorFor inquiries, please contact:Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau Action Climat Canada
Graham Saul, Executive Director
[email protected]