Auditor General continues to out Liberals on expensive hydro shell game

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QUEEN’S PARK — It’s no surprise that today’s statement from the Auditor-General is another sharp rebuke of the Liberals’ capacity for honesty.

We learned today that the Liberal friendly accounting used to come up with the (Un)Fair Hydro Plan helped balloon the deficit by an astonishing $5 billion dollars. The news brings up a story that Kathleen Wynne would like to keep buried: that her government is using shell games to lower hydro rates in her power-buying scheme for the upcoming election.

“The Auditor-General’s statement confirms what the Greens have long been saying – that the temporary reduction of electricity bills is nothing but a cover-up of the hydro mess this government has made. This is a costly $45 billion dollar band-aid that won’t fix the problem. What this will do is cost us more in the long run,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

According to previous reports from the Financial Accountability Officer, the costs of the Liberal hydro band-aid could escalate to anywhere between $63 and $93 billion in the future, amounting to a staggering $19,000 per household. Under the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP, governing in Ontario has been reduced to magic math and fairy tale hydro schemes.

 “The Liberals think they can trick people with false spending numbers and short-term discounts,” added Schreiner. “We face hard choices to get out of this hydro mess. Greens do not shy away from tough conversations. We would implement real solutions to fix our electricity system like transitioning from incredibly expensive nuclear to buying clean water power at one-third the price.”

“The Green Party of Ontario would target rate reductions for the people who need it most; say no to OPG’s demand for a 180% price increase to pay for outdated and overpriced nuclear power; and focus on reducing demand through energy efficiency and conservation measures,” said Schreiner.

These are common-sense solutions to build a clean and affordable electricity system, and only the Green Party is talking about them.

Learn more at www.gpo.ca/vision.

Liberals’ nuclear bias continues to hurt Ontarians

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QUEEN’S PARK — Today’s report from the Financial Accountability Officer that ratepayers are saving $38 million from the Ontario-Quebec trade deal is a sliver of good news. These savings unfortunately come ahead of the skyrocketing bills we will be hit with to pay for multi-billion-dollar nuclear renovation jobs.

“This Liberal government has a listless energy plan aimed more at keeping the nuclear lobby happy than securing a good deal for people. This trade deal with Quebec for inexpensive hydro is a start but needs to be expanded. Otherwise it’s tinkering around the edges instead of moving our grid towards the cleaner, cheaper future that is possible,” said Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario.

Maintaining the status-quo energy system comes with a multi-billion price tag for rebuilding Darlington and keeping Pickering open past 2018. Ontarians should be asking themselves why the Liberals are anchoring our energy plan to dangerous and expensive nuclear when Hydro Quebec has offered to sell us water power at one third of the price.

“We learned today that we can save money by purchasing clean power from Quebec. So why are the Liberals determined to dump money down the nuclear drain?” said Schreiner. “The Liberal plan hurts ratepayers and hitches the province to outdated technology with no long-term future,” he added.

The Green Party’s vision for energy is about solutions that put people and planet first, rather than short-term fixes that fuel the powerful nuclear lobby. We would say no to the electricity price increases requested by OPG to rebuild outdated nuclear plants. It’s past time for an independent review of the costs and benefits of all energy sources before sinking any more money into our aging, outdated nuclear plants.

“We have to build an affordable electricity system for the future, not the past,” said Schreiner. “It’s time for an energy system that puts people first, not industry insiders.”

Nuclear needs an independent cost-benefit analysis

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Today’s report from the Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) is an extremely limited, one-sided look at the Liberal’s nuclear program in Ontario.

“What Ontarians really need is a comprehensive analysis of the best options for our province,” says Jose Etcheverry, GPO critic for Environment and Climate Change. “In fact, all nuclear projects in Ontario’s history have been late and over budget; Pickering should have been closed in 2014 and it is irresponsible to keep it open any longer. Darlington is already 400% over budget on just one component, showing Ontario must take off ramps away from nuclear.”

The FAO report admits: “The present report is not a comprehensive cost-benefit or business case analysis of the Nuclear Refurbishment Plan relative to alternatives. Such an analysis would have to consider important issues such as economic, environmental, security factors and associated non-financial risks.”

Without an independent review of the costs and alternatives, we cannot know what the best option is for Ontario.

What we do know is that nuclear is risky and expensive. Once it’s built we are going to be pushed to use it, undermining conservation efforts. Nuclear inhibits our ability to use emerging technologies that may be cheaper and cleaner to run, that also don’t have as many safety concerns or problems with storing waste.

Ontario still has no plan for storing radioactive nuclear waste, instead punting yet another problem to the next generation.

Last, no company will insure nuclear plants because they are too risky. It’s simply not fair to put taxpayers on the hook for them.

 

Ontario needs a better deal from politicians at Queen’s Park

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(Queen’s Park:) – Ontarians are getting an unfair deal from the scandal-plagued Liberal government at Queen’s Park.

Needless transit stops that cost billions and serve developers more than commuters. Another 180% increase in electricity rates to rebuild nuclear plants to generate power Ontario doesn’t need. Increasing threats to our drinking water.

That’s why the Green Party plans to hold all parties at Queen’s Park to account on these issues in the fall sitting of the Legislature.

“Government decisions should be about what is good for people, not politicians,” says Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner.

“I’m tired of the political games and partisan self-interest that goes on at Queen’s Park. We will continue to continue to work with Ontarians to demand action on issues that people care about,” adds Schreiner. “We are ready to deliver real solutions for people.”

Schreiner outlined the GPO’s three top priorities for fall sitting of the Legislature:

  1. Stop giving the nuclear industry billions of dollars to generate surplus power.
    Just say no. The government must turn down the 180% electricity price increase requested by the nuclear industry. Instead, the GPO supports investments in people’s homes and businesses to save money by saving energy.
  2. Stronger protections for drinking water.
    Public drinking water for people and communities must the province’s top priority when issuing water taking permits. We also need stronger protections against industrial activities in source water regions and water taking fees that cover the cost of sustainable water management.
  3. Protecting workers and middle class families from rising levels of inequality.
    Dreams of owning a home, having a stable job and a high quality of life are getting further away. Greens will push the government to raise social assistance rates, build transit that works for people and implement innovative solutions so people and families can afford a home.

“We can’t wait until next year’s election to get action on inequality, electricity prices and water,” says Schreiner. “We will continue to mobilize people on doorsteps and in coffee shops to pressure the insiders at Queen’s Park to act.”

The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and policies that work for people to Queen’s Park.

Submission Letter to CNSC re: EIS CNL’s Proposal for NSDF at Chalk River, Ontario

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Nicole Frigault, Environmental Assessment Specialist

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

 

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility – Public Commenting Process

CEAA Reference number: 80122

Dear Nicole Frigault:

I’m deeply concerned with the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Site in Deep River, Ontario (CEAR Reference # 80122).

Citizens, businesses and community groups are concerned that the proposed site is being fast-tracked for approval despite the fact that it does not meet safety standards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency. A number of retired scientists from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) are critical of the plan.

Concerns with the plan include an unsuitable location next to wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River and the use of inadequate technology. In addition, the proposal does not meet regulatory requirements with respect to the health and safety of people and the protection of the environment.

Some experts have raised concerns that the NSDF proposal fails to fulfill all requirements set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for public consultation and assessment of alternatives.

This plan threatens the quality of drinking water for millions of people who live downstream. Government has a responsibility to ensure that people’s health and drinking water are protected.

Given the many concerns regarding the NSDF, I urge the CNSC to deny the proposal at this time. I urge you to send this proposal back to the drawing board so that our health, water and environment are protected for present and future generations.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner

Leader, Green Party of Ontario

 

Nuclear emergency preparation: we’re not ready

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Mike Schreiner’s submitted the following comment to the Ontario government’s update to the Nuclear Emergency Response Plan.

July 28, 2017

Hon. Marie-France Lalonde
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Reference: # 013-0560

Dear Hon. Marie-France Lalonde,

Twenty-five nuclear reactors line the shores of the Great Lakes. 40 million people rely upon the Great Lakes for drinking water. 4.5 million people live within 50 KM of the Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Generating Stations. Protecting people and drinking water must be a top priority for the Ontario government.

That’s why we welcome the Ontario government’s long overdue call for public input into updating the province’s inadequate nuclear emergency response plan.

Unfortunately, the province’s nuclear emergency plans fail to protect the people of Ontario.

It’s unacceptable that Ontario’s Discussion Paper on Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP): Planning Basis Review and Recommendations does not recommend strengthening emergency plans to international best practices in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

We believe it is irresponsible and reckless for your government to expose Ontario to the risks of a Fukushima scale (International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) level 7) nuclear disaster without adequate emergency plans in place. It is inexplicable that in the wake of both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters the PNERP does not recommend updating and strengthening Ontario’s nuclear emergency response.

Your government must act to put the safety of Ontarians ahead of the nuclear industry.

We urge your government to:

  1. Require the government to meet or exceed international best practices for nuclear emergency response planning and preparedness, by revising the PNERP.
  2. Instruct the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) to upgrade Ontario’s reference accident from a INES 5 accident to an INES 7 accident to match the best practice set by Switzerland’s recent decision to make this change.
  3. Create a municipal, provincial and federal integrated emergency management plan that takes into account the possibility of a severe accident at an Ontario nuclear generating station, including multiple simultaneous reactor accidents.
  4. Implement emergency measures to improve notification and evacuation of residents, as well as mitigation of the effects of radiotoxic releases.
  5. Require the pre-distribution of potassium iodide (KI) pills to all residents living within 30 kilometers of a nuclear generating station and make KI pills available to anyone within 100 KM. Expand the detailed evacuation zone (the Primary Zone) to 20 KM and the secondary zone to 100 KM.
  6. Limit the construction of residences, schools, long term care facilities in the vicinity of nuclear reactors and nuclear waste storage.
  7. Adequately resource OFMEM to meet the provincial government’s constitutional responsibilities for nuclear emergency preparedness.
  8. Instruct OFMEM that it is neither reasonable nor prudent to rely exclusively on industry risk estimates for the selection of reference accidents used in determining off-site emergency measures. Independent experts and international best practices should guide OFMEM planning decisions.
  9. Require a plan to ensure safe drinking water in the event that a nuclear disaster contaminates the Great Lakes.
  10. Mandate that future updates to the PNERP Master Plan or Implementing Plans be posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for public comment and transparent input from municipal councils.

Your government is being negligent by failing to plan for worst-case nuclear accidents when half of Ontario lives in the shadow of a nuclear station.

It is the government’s responsibility to protect public safety by making Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans the most robust in the world, or at the very least, in line with international best practices.

Minister, I know you take your responsibilities seriously. It is time to do the right thing by strengthening Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, Green Party of Ontario

You can submit your own comment via our easy form, due Friday July 28.