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A Perfect Trifecta for Pulp Mills

Re: Carbon boondoggle robs poor to fuel rich

Last fall, in the September-October issue of Watershed Sentinel, we wrote BC's Bio Boondoggle, a far-ranging article looking at government schemes which would use more of our forests for energy generation, under the guise of renewable energy, and the heavy subsidies available to companies wishing to take advantage of the opportunities.

The article begins, "Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals’ energy legacy is a boondoggle of policies, subsidies, and fantastical claims. The 2010 Clean Energy Act brought together a decade of energy initiatives in a single legislative dog’s breakfast – delivering blows to the environment, the economy, and the credibility of government."

On the Pacific Carbon Trust, we wrote

"An ingenious method of moving money from the public sector to private interests involves the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT). Itself an invention of Gordon Campbell’s climate initiatives, the PCT sells carbon offsets from revenues which come almost entirely from the public sector – BC government, local governments and school districts in BC – which have been required since 2010 to be carbon neutral.

"The cost to the public sector, the revenues to PCT, and the eventual shift into offsets sold by the private sector, such as fuel switching projects at  pulp mills is about $25 million per year. The PCT has seized on the bioenergy strategy and has so far funded fourteen fuel-switching projects in BC, many at pulp mills."

But the Pacfic Carbon Trust was really only a small part of the bigger gift to corporations, especially to BC's pulp mills.

Drawn by BC energy policy, BC's pulp mills began moving into burning wood waste and later, timber cut specifically for burning. The impressive electricity rates offered by BC Hydro - up to $124 per megawatt hour, at the time - were by themselves generous enough to cost-justify the investment. And the pulp mills got to continue paying the industrial rate to BC Hydro for energy they used in their ongoing mill operation.

But then, in many instances AFTER the companies had decided to invest in power generation, the federal government stepped in with the Green Transformation Fund - a billion dollars earmarked for pulp mills. This money effectively paid for the investments. For example, Canfor got $115 million from the GTF, Domtar: $75m or $58m, Zellstoff-Celgar: $57m, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper: $43m million.

In the same issue of Watershed Sentinel, Rob Wiltzen looked more closely at the Green Transformation Fund in Turning BC Forests into Fuel.

Rob's article begins, "The federal government has been shovelling your money off the back of a truck, one billion dollars worth, to the pulp and paper industry, mostly to help them burn “biomass” for energy. But there’s not much green about the Green Transformation Fund."

It was and continues to be a perfect trifecta for the corporate pals of Gordon Campbell. The Green Transformation Fund, BC Energy Policy, and the Pacific Carbon Trust.

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