Clean is good. We all love clean. A clean shirt, a clean house, a clean and clear conscience. So, what’s not to love about a Clean Fuel Standard? A lot.
The Clean Fuel Standard is not so much about a clean anything as it is about punishing users of fossil fuels by creating a new tax on top of the carbon tax that will rise to $50 per tonne in 2022.
Think tanks that are not ideologically tied to green energy think the Clean Fuel Standard is a terrible idea. Not one farm group supports this new regulation. The regulation is a bit of a moving target and there is no clear idea of the final outcome. Even the date for when it will become law could change. Maybe it will be in January 2022.
As it stands, the proposed regulation will not offer carbon credits for all crops absorbing carbon dioxide. Isn’t that a slap in face. Not many years ago Ontario Federation of Ontario president Don McCabe assured farmers that in spite of a carbon tax, farmers would see that cost offset by carbon credits.
So, what does the proposed regulation offer? Carbon credits to those who switch to hydrogen-based fuels and electric-powered equipment, a tall order for any farm. Carbon credits will be given to crop farmers who sell only to the government-promoted biofuel industry. All other grain markets will be excluded from carbon credits, as will crops on newly-cleared land and land next to waterways. Where there are no local laws on buffer zones around ditches, the regulations will throw one in: No cropping within 30 metres.
Perhaps with a nudge from stakeholders our leader will warm up to other ideas. But listening has not been the federal government’s strong point. Think of attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, fired for adhering to the law. Think too of the pandemic lockdown that hit hard in March. Surely, many farmers thought, the federal government would not increase the carbon tax as planned in the middle of a pandemic. April arrived and, boom, up went the carbon tax.
The Clean Fuel Standard is not being debated. It is being written by unelected, guaranteed-income-earning bureaucrats who are protected from risk and hard times. These bureaucrats are in the federal department of Environment and Climate Change, a once-admired department that eventually decided that science would be based on choosing the scariest of assumptions. Climate change is the euphemism for man-made global warming and there is no end to the scolding we get about our carbon dioxide emissions that are driving mankind into extinction unless we can be stopped. So, stop us we must.
“This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told us by Zoom. “This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to re-imagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.”
These are not words from a man about to slow down for warning signs, stop for ice cream, or check in to hear what farmers have to say. He’s decided. He’s got the government’s pedal to the metal.
We’re full speed ahead, way out in front, with no one in the rear view mirror. Canada is willing to go it alone in the world, pulling out all the stops to decrease the two per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide that we cause, even though it will give Canadian products a competitive disadvantage, kill thousands of jobs nationally (potentially wreck lives) and won’t stop other countries from increasing their CO2 output.
Farm groups need to ramp up any influence they might have. They have a monumental task before them and they are running out of time.
Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org