Muskrat Falls is good news for N.L. car­bon tax: Os­borne

Cred­its and plenty of ex­emp­tions dot prov­ince’s tax plan

The Labradorian - - Classified - BY DAVID MAHER

A lighter car­bon tax is “prob­a­bly the only good thing for con­sumers in this prov­ince from Muskrat Falls,” ac­cord­ing to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­borne.

The provin­cial govern­ment out­lined its fed­er­ally ap­proved car­bon tax plan on Tues­day. The story isn’t so much what’s cov­ered un­der the plan — but what’s been granted ex­emp­tion.

First, at the fuel pumps, don’t ex­pect a big change.

“There’s go­ing to be less than a half-cent dif­fer­ence in what peo­ple are pay­ing at the pumps to­day as a re­sult of taxes as of Jan. 1,” said Os­borne.

“The av­er­age con­sumer in the prov­ince, if you’re burn­ing 150 litres of gas in a week, you’ll pay eight dol­lars a year dif­fer­ence to what you’re pay­ing to­day.”

The base plan sees a $20 per tonne tax on car­bon emis­sions.

The provin­cial gaso­line tax will be re­duced by four cents per litre, to be re­placed by a fed­eral car­bon tax of 4.42 cent car­bon tax. The five-cent-per litre tax on diesel will also be elim­i­nated and re­placed by a 5.32 cent fed­eral car­bon tax.

Fur­ther ex­emp­tions in­clude: fuel used for off­shore ex­plo­ration; fu­els sold on re­serves to reg­is­tered first na­tions com­mu­ni­ties; fu­els sold in prepack­aged con­tain­ers of 10 gal­lons or less; jet fuel; gas used for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion; home heat­ing fu­els; for farm­ing equip­ment; for forestry, for com­mer­cial fish­ing, for in­ter­na­tional or in­ter­provin­cial trade, for aqua­cul­ture; for con­struc­tion equip­ment; for man­u­fac­tur­ing iron ore; or any fuel used to min­eral ex­plo­ration.

Big in­dus­try — and the big pol­luters — have their fin­ger­prints all over the provin­cial plan. Large in­dus­trial fa­cil­i­ties and large-scale elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion that emit more than 25,000 tonnes of green­house gas a year will be af­fected by the changes, but with caveats.

“We worked very closely with in­dus­try to try and pro­tect our com­pet­i­tive­ness and the jobs in this prov­ince,” said Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­han Coady.

“There will be per­for­mance stan­dards. As part of those stan­dards, they’ll have to lower their emis­sions by six per cent the first year, then eight, then 10,

then 12. It will be an in­creas­ing amount of re­quire­ments un­der these emis­sion stan­dards.”

If a big pol­luter doesn’t meet those re­duc­tion tar­gets, there’s an­other way out.

“If an emit­ter doesn’t meet those tar­gets, they can choose to ei­ther put money in an emis­sion re­duc­tion funds or they can buy cred­its that will be avail­able be­cause of the Holy­rood clo­sure,” said Coady.

In or­der to be granted all those ex­emp­tions, the provin­cial govern­ment used Muskrat Falls and the re­sult­ing green en­ergy to ar­gue for lesser reg­u­la­tions.

Os­borne says once Muskrat Falls is on­line, the prov­ince will use 98 per cent green en­ergy, mean­ing stricter stan­dards were not re­quired to meet fed­eral emis­sion re­duc­tion stan­dards.

An­nual emis­sion re­ports will have to be filed on June 1 of ev­ery year, while the fund com­pa­nies will pay into should they miss emis­sion re­duc­tion tar­gets will be pub­licly re­ported, as well.

JOE GIB­BONS/THE TELE­GRAM

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­borne and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­han Coady speak to re­porters about the New­found­land and Labrador’s car­bon tax plan out­side the House of As­sem­bly in St. John’s Oct. 23.

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