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  • New Federal Policy Restricts Thermal Coal Mine Projects, Citing unacceptable Environmental Impacts

    Mining companies intend to impound all waste water on-site and treat it so that it does not harm the environment. However, because the mountains are steep and can receive heavy precipitation and snowmelt runoff, these impoundment structures can fail. If they fail or are not operating as expected, contaminated water and sediment is released into nearby creeks and rivers. Of the known issues, selenium, nitrate and sediment contamination are the most concerning in regard to water health. There is significant interest in establishing coal mining operations throughout the eastern slopes of Alberta—the areas residing within the Oldman watershed are no exception.

    This diminishes the image of integrity that Albertans expect from its government. The public relations function of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is adequate to the task of defending the industry from ‘misrepresentations’. If the Government of Alberta is to participate in these sorts of communications, it is incumbent for the government to provide fact-based narrative. After all, the times seem to be changing in the energy industry, and future government revenues and employment opportunities for Albertan are dependent on sound decision-making.

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    Of the 36 units operating in 2017, 20 are expected to shut down before 2030, footnote 10 as they will reach their end of useful life under the Regulations before that year. One unit in Saskatchewan has been equipped with carbon capture and storage technology and will be able to meet the 420 t of CO2/GWh performance standard and operate past its prescribed end of useful life. As a result, the total number of coal-fired units expected to operate past 2030 in the absence of the Amendments is 15, plus one unit that has been equipped with carbon capture and storage. damage to a hoist, ventilation system or other equipment that is essential to the safety or health of employees. At the time when a coal mine or a portion of a coal mine is closed, the employer shall submit to the Coal Mining Safety Commission, by registered mail, a final plan of the coal mine or portion of the coal mine as it exists on the day of closure. The notice referred to in subsection shall be accompanied by a plan of the coal mine prepared in accordance with subsection 160 and revised to show the boundaries of the mine and the limits of all workings as they exist on the day the notice is mailed. 159The employer shall prepare a plan of strata control for any proposed underground workings of a coal mine that is designed to prevent the collapse of the roof and sides of those workings. The employer shall notify a safety officer at the district office of the day and time of each training session referred to in subsection or at least 24 hours before the training session.

    New Report Sets Out 400 Steps Needed To Transform Energy Sector, Meet Climate Goals By 2050

    Ecojustice has raised concerns about the «rigour» of the provincial assessment process, including that there is much less opportunity for public participation or Indigenous engagement than there would be under a federal assessment. «Thermal coal is seen as a low-hanging fruit in the fight against climate change,» according to Fraser Thomson, a lawyer with Ecojustice, Canada’s largest charity working on environmental law. Vista produces thermal coal — coal burned to produce electricity, as opposed to metallurgical coal, which is used in steel production. We also operate three oil-fired combustion turbine units, located in Victoria Junction , Tusket and Burnside, Dartmouth .

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    footnote 7 The Government of Canada developed this Framework with provinces and territories, and in consultation with Indigenous peoples. The Pan-Canadian Framework outlines initiatives to achieve emission reductions across all sectors of the economy. Saskatchewan currently has one coal-fired generation station that is equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.Footnote 3 In the projection period, Saskatchewan’s retiring coal is replaced by a growing share of renewables. Saskatchewan also plans to purchase over 300 MW of hydroelectric power from Manitoba starting in 2022. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia plan to add wind, expand hydro units, and purchase hydroelectricity from Newfoundland and Labrador, who is now connected to their electricity markets by the Maritime Link transmission line. All 4 provincesFootnote 2 are deploying various, long-term strategies to replace retiring coal-fired power generation. In Alberta, most coal units are projected to be converted to run on natural gas. The conversion starts as early as 2021, with the last unit expected to be converted by 2029.

    By Province, 2019

    Electricity generated by the coal-fired unit would be replaced by reduced electricity exports and purchases from outside the province. New Brunswick is a regional electricity hub, with a transmission grid strongly interconnected to the Maritimes, Quebec and New England. The province is expected to take advantage of its existing transmission capacity and replace lost generation from coal-fired units with hydroelectricity purchased from Quebec. The end year for the analysis is meant to capture the full impact of replacing all coal-fired units early, since the last coal-fired generating unit is not expected to retire until 2053 in the baseline scenario. As shown in Figure 4, the most significant costs will be carried around 2029 and 2030 for commissioning new capacity to replace coal-fired generating units and for decommissioning units that have reached the end of their amended useful life. Those costs will be partly offset later, by the avoided costs of replacement capacity, had those units operated until the end of their useful life.

    • The updated proposal also calls for moving up closure of Karn 3 and 4, units that run on natural gas and fuel oil and can generate more than 1,100 MW to meet peak demand, to 2023 about eight years sooner than their design lives.
    • As of 2021, all governments should stop approving new coal mines or oil and gas fields and plan for a rapid, but orderly wind-down of the existing operations.
    • Washington state officials were not trying to block Wyoming and Montana coal but acted because of «valid environmental concerns» about the dock, attorneys for the state argued in a court filing later that year.
    • Federal Environment Minister Jonathon Wilkinson said the move was made because of the need to stop burning coal for power — the single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the world.
    • However, the net benefits remained the same ($2.7 billion) as the reductions in estimated costs were offset by an equivalent reduction in estimated benefits.
    • However, 87% of coal-by-rail shipments originated in British Columbia, which produces mostly metallurgical coal used for steel production that is not expected to be affected by the Amendments.

    In 2035, the estimated health benefits across Canada are expected to be lower, approximately $56 million. Based on changes in local ambient air quality, AQBAT estimates the likely reductions in average per capita risks for a range of health impacts known to be associated with air pollution exposure. These changes in per capita health risks are then multiplied by the affected populations in order to estimate the reduction in the number of adverse health outcomes across the Canadian population. AQBAT also applies economic values drawn from the available literature to estimate the average per capita socio-economic benefits of lowered health risks. Health Canada then used the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool to determine how improvements in ambient air quality will affect the health of Canadians. However, this is expected to change dramatically over the next two decades as generating capacity is expected to shut down without being fully replaced. The central analysis considers the benefits and costs of replacing generating capacity earlier in the policy scenario than in the baseline scenario. The difference between the two is reported as the net benefits of the Amendments.

    Water Quantity

    The Government of Canada is committed to a federal assessment process that is robust, based on science and Indigenous knowledge, protects our rich natural environment, respects the rights of Indigenous peoples, mediacoop.ca and supports our natural resources sector. Any future coal development projects proposed in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains that meet the thresholds described in the Physical Activities Regulations will be subject to the new impact assessment regime under the Impact Assessment Act . Coal mining projects not subject to the IAA may still require assessment under provincial legislation. The just transition literature we reviewed for our report emphasizes that strong public services are needed to support diverse, low carbon, labour-intensive industries. The county is hoping that the agriculture industry, and related value-added industries, can continue to grow so they can help replace some of the lost local economic activity from the coal power industry. As stated above, some electricity firms in Alberta have indicated their intention to convert six coal-fired units to run on natural gas between 2020 and 2022.

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    They stated that depreciation cycles for bridging/interim assets will be compressed, which will lead to higher incremental rates for ratepayers in the province. They also noted that the analysis may underestimate the cost of liquid natural gas and fuel transmission requirements, as well as the effects of extreme weather. An environmental NGO proposed that the cost-benefit analysis should consider increased utilization/development of renewables, provincial interconnections and hydro imports for some provinces instead of assuming new natural gas infrastructure.

    Canadian electricity exports are primarily from provinces with large amounts of low-cost, non-emitting electricity generation. For example, Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia — provinces that almost exclusively generate hydroelectricity — accounted for roughly two thirds of Canadian exports in 2016. Ontario accounted for approximately 28% of Canadian exports and has no coal-fired electricity generation. While Canadian and American electricity markets are integrated to some extent, limits on transmission systems between the two countries will moderate the impacts on trade flows between the two countries. The Amendments could affect residential electricity consumers with a limited ability to accommodate higher electricity retail prices. As shown in Table 12, residential electricity prices could be up to 5% higher in affected provinces in the policy scenario compared to the baseline scenario.

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