Nova Scotia blames carbon tax, government red tape for cancellation of 'green energy' project

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston is blaming Ottawa for causing considerable delays that led to the recent cancellation of a green energy tidal project. He also objects to the federal carbon tax for making the future cost of business in the province more expensive.

Nova Scotia blames carbon tax, government red tape for cancellation of 'green energy' project
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"Scottish company Sustainable Marine has been active in Nova Scotia, specifically… around Digby, for the last few years. The company has been producing energy from the tides of Digby but is packing up and moving on," said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston in a video posted to social media.

In April, Sustainable Marine told the Department of Fisheries and Oceans it would revoke its proposed tidal project as burdensome government red tape hindered the tidal power expansion. In 2020, the Bay of Fundy project received nearly $30 million from Natural Resources Canada — the most significant taxpayer investment in tidal power.

Sustainable Marine CEO Jason Hayman told the National Observer they provided comprehensive environmental monitoring data to the Fisheries and Oceans department. It revealed no harm to fish or other marine animals in the local environment. 

The department revealed the proposed project site had two at-risk species — the white shark and the inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon — present at the Minas Passage. "We have a responsibility to make sure that good projects go ahead," said department spokesperson Jeff Woodland.

"In the last ten years of initial research, no observations of a marine mammal or seabird colliding with a turbine," said Lindsay Bennett, executive director at FORCE. "The limited number of interactions with fish [near] a turbine hasn't resulted in any obvious harm."

Instead of suggesting a path forward, the federal government labelled the project high risk while "not providing any real justification."

"The federal government is forcing a carbon tax on Nova Scotians while at the same time blocking real solutions to greening our grid," added Houston. "I stand with the real opportunities of tidal and wind that can truly green our grid and positively transform our economy."

On March 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed the federal carbon tax puts more money in the pockets of Canadians. However, most households will be worse off when considering this slightly lower economic activity, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). 

"Only the bottom quintile is better off, but everybody else is likely worse," said PBO Yves Giroux.

"We're fighting climate change while standing up for families and growing the economy through pollution pricing," claimed Trudeau at a press conference in Nova Scotia. He said the average family of four in Bridgewater would receive a climate action incentive cheque worth $272 every three months, starting July 1.

"That's over $1,000 a year and more than makes up for the extra costs because of the carbon price," he said, adding, "This is how you fight climate change."

The PBO countered that narrative, stating Nova Scotia families from the lowest earning quintile would receive $226 in federal rebates in 2030/31. The highest earners would pay $4,368 annually. 

By 2030, a PBO report estimates the carbon tax's net cost—considering fiscal and economic impacts — will be $1,513 for the typical Nova Scotian family.

"The federal government is excited about reaching into your pocket and taking your money in the name of a carbon tax — it will cost you more but does little to protect the environment," said Houston last month. "When faced with real opportunities to make a meaningful, positive change like tapping tidal power to the green energy grid, it's shut down. It makes no sense."

Bennett said the Minas Passage has nearly 7,000 megawatts (MW) of energy potential, of which 2,400 MW would be extracted without negatively impacting sea levels. She claimed it could power two million homes in Atlantic Canada.

According to 2019 data, over half (51%) of Nova Scotia's energy generation came from coal, while less than a quarter (22%) came from natural gas.

"Nova Scotia has a real opportunity to be a global leader in marine renewables. I want our province to seize this opportunity," said Houston. "Unfortunately, the federal government isn't allowing us to develop our resources." 

He accused them of "dragging their feet" on the Bay of Fundy project and "holding [the] province back." The Fisheries and Oceans Department countered that it authorized four tidal projects in the area with "a clear regulatory pathway." 

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