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B.C. trying to revive climate program

Environment Minister Mary Polak - B.C. government photo
Environment Minister Mary Polak
— image credit: B.C. government photo

The B.C. government has reached out to U.S. states and the domestic clean energy industry in an effort to keep its greenhouse gas reduction goals in sight.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett hopes to have details out by the end of the year for a "modest" clean energy program he promised to private power developers at a conference in Vancouver this week.

With BC Hydro projecting an electricity surplus in the near future, there won't be another clean power call any time soon for run-of-river, wind and other producers, Bennett said in an interview. A priority will be energy development for aboriginal communities, which have used small power production to get off diesel generators and to generate new income.

The new commitment comes as BC Hydro continues weeding out proposals that haven't delivered on power purchase contracts, in order to cut down on the utility's growing debt.

The government also signed an agreement this week with western U.S. states called the Pacific Coast Collaborative, to extend efforts to put a regional price on carbon. California has launched its own cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and B.C. continues to administer a carbon tax on fossil fuels imposed in 2006.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak signed the agreement in San Francisco with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and California Governor Jerry Brown.

Kitzhaber said more than 500,000 people on the North American west coast now work in green economy jobs, and the region will lead the way in the future.

"We are here to reject the myth that jobs and the environment are in conflict," he said.

Meanwhile, B.C. continues its central effort, to develop liquefied natural gas exports to Asia. The province has exempted greenhouse gas emissions used to process and export LNG, arguing that it will displace coal in China and other countries with a less emission-intensive fuel.

 

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