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Environmental reboot, not more posturing

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01Apr

By: Graham Lane
Posted 04/1/2016

Winter was mild thanks to El Niño — a cyclical weather pattern caused by the movement of warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño is but one of many complex natural phenomena that influence our constantly changing climate besides the Earth’s irregular orbit, sunspots, volcanoes, etc. As John Mackey, founder of organic foods conglomerate Whole Foods, has said: “climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.”

Most people don’t lose sleep over “climate change,” an IPSOS Reid poll found only 15% of Canadians consider it to be an important concern, miles behind jobs, the economy and taxes. This despite the activities of the highly-organized and massively-funded man-made climate change lobby. It religiously promotes the theory that human activity, particularly the use of fossil fuels, causes climate change/Armageddon.

This lobby has captured our governments, empowering politicians and massive bureaucracies with activist solutions that boil down to the idea, preposterous to many, that governments can change the weather by increasing taxes and imposing a “clean energy” agenda on the economy. Tune in to the CBC, for example, and hear breathless prattle connecting routine weather events to a need for carbon taxes, cap and trade, subsidies for green energy, etc.

It is central planning nirvana and bank account gold for the elites of the rapidly mushrooming green regulatory and subsidized clean energy sectors. They selflessly proffer to guide us little people with a subtly anti-human philosophy that dislikes growth, development, cars, suburbs, and the conventional energy and resource industries. Their lack of enthusiasm for needed pipelines undermines industries that ultimately help pay their salaries, provide good jobs, and fund equalization payments and public services. Policies imposing regressive energy taxes and other policies artificially raise heating and transportation costs in a big, cold country, disproportionately harming the poor and middle class.

Which brings us to Manitoba and the need for clear-eyed practical environmental policy — a smarter green policy shifting the focus towards more significant environmental problems that do not unnecessarily damage our economy and our children’s prospects. Frankly, in a world where environmental indicators are trending mostly positive, a smarter green policy would focus less on process and easy symbolism by zeroing in on real pollution issues and shifting away from climate change related policy over-reach.

Assuming the NDP is defeated April 19th, a door will open to allow smarter green policies that have real environmental, economic and social benefits.

First move away from environmental laws and regulations that foster huge government bureaucracies better known for waste and failure than for innovation and success. There is room to aggressively reduce the ineffectual regulatory/planning overkill that now suffocates vast areas of policy like housing and the management of provincial parks. Cancel plans for so-called Cap and Trade. European experience demonstrated fraud and waste as based on seamy backroom deal-making and politics.

Next, put real money into improving water quality — spend big to separate storm drainage from sewer lines. Last, halt Manitoba Hydro’s disastrous big-build of uneconomic dams and transmission lines. Prevent job-killing, extremely regressive and unnecessary electricity price increases for Manitobans subsidizing more prosperous American power consumers.

Smart green means focusing on improving environmental outcomes, not just religious posturing.

Graham Lane, retired chartered accountant and former PUB Chair, leads Manitoba Forward (www.manitobaforward.ca).

– Republished from Winnipeg Sun, April 1, 2016

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