Carbon levy not just about carbon

Written by Maria Fitzpatrick MLA for Lethbridge-East.

First published in The Lethbridge Herald on June 10, 2016.

As I have said many times, we in Lethbridge are gifted with incredible groups of forward thinkers. Whether that is Farming Smarter or the scientists and staff at the Agricultural Research Centre and Lethbridge College who do on-the-ground research to make the way we farm, and our crops, better, they make our community better.

In Lethbridge we know that we live in the Palliser Triangle, a drought area. Water is a precious commodity and we know we have been successful in the agricultural industry because of the utilization of irrigation and protection of our water supply. We also know that this is the second year of very little moisture, either on the ground or in the mountains, which feeds our reservoirs. We know the importance of protecting this resource.

Alternative energy is also on the minds of some of those forward thinkers: the bio-gas plant on the east side of 43 Street; wind, solar and thermal being pursued by professors and scientists; and, of course, the Destination Project. All of these innovative projects and forward-thinking people recognize that we need to invest in a greener, more sustainable economy.

I am sure that most, if not all, Albertans are ready to take that same step forward. And that brings me to the subject of the carbon levy.

Pollution is something that no one wants, and something that effects everyone’s health.

One of the things that seems to get missed in the debate about a carbon levy is that it’s not just carbon, it’s pollution we are talking about here. Everything we burn, whether it’s for driving our cars, heating our homes or generating electricity, is pollution that gets into the atmosphere and damages our health and our environment. Pollution is something that no one wants, and something that effects everyone’s health.

The carbon levy is the fairest way to put a price on this pollution. Everybody who uses carbon-based fuels for heating, driving or electricity pays for that use, and the amount of fuel you use increases the amount you pay. People who limit the amount of carbon and pollution they emit will also limit the amount they pay.

One of the important things to know is that lower-income Albertans will receive rebates totaling the full amount of what they pay for the levy, so the more energy-smart people are, the more they will benefit from the carbon levy and rebate. Every penny over and above these rebates will be invested in green technology and economic diversification. This will ensure more people are working, more money is flowing into the economy, and more is being done overall to lower the amount of pollution and carbon emissions. This will make our environment and economy healthier.

Our government recognizes the need to diversify our energy markets. We know need to supply the green energy for our own use as well as expanding market access. We understand the need for protection of our climate and the health of Albertans. That is why our government is taking action with the Climate Leadership Plan.