Monday, April 20, 2009

NDP Drinks The Black Liquor

A bizarre alternative fuel tax credit that actually subsidizes increased CO2 emissions at U.S. pulp mills could be "the final nail in the coffin for many struggling Canadian pulp mills."

This is a weird one, which I have written about here. Basically, pulp-and-paper mills can fuel many of their processes by making use of the by-products of these very processes, in particular a carbon rich sludge containing lignin (the structural glue that binds plant cells together) called black liquor. They've been doing things for years this way, and it keeps the production of pulp and paper relatively "green"(at least "greener" than it would otherwise be). However, in the 2005 U.S. highway bill law-makers introduced a provision that gave a 50 cent per gallon tax credit to industries using a taxable fuel/alternative fuel mix, and in 2007 this was extended to the pulp and paper industry. So clever heads thought "Hey, that money can be ours if we just add diesel to our black liquor!" even though this results in greater emissions and is entirely contrary to the purpose of the legislation.

Naturally, Canadian players in the industry are mad as hell, but the political response to has been most interesting, particularly from the NDP:

"The new U.S. administration is ensuring they are protecting American jobs," [NDP Trade critic Peter Julian] said. "Canada has to take similar tack and work with the U.S. administration to get a reciprocal arrangement that...[is] win-win for both countries."

...which sounds very much as though he is pushing for the tax credit to be extended to the Canadian side of the border, which means that, once again, the NDP is willing to sacrifice environmental interests for those of a dirty brown, heavily unionized industry. Ditching the green for the brown, as it were.

More sensibly, both the Liberals and the government are intent on having the credit killed in the U.S. rather than instituting something just as perverse up here.

The long, slow decline of the NDP as the party of the environment continues.

1 comment:

Ti-Guy said...

Too bad none of us can have any faith that this can and should be challenged under NAFTA.