- - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

To get an idea of what President Obama’s “war on coal” will ultimately cost American consumers, one need only look north to Ontario (“Murray Energy sues EPA, alleges law noncompliance,” Web, March 25).

Our provincial government boasts that Ontario’s “phase-out of coal is the single largest greenhouse-gas emission reduction initiative in North America.” Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore praised us for such bold action, saying, “Thank God for the people of Ontario providing such leadership.”

Ontario has reduced its use of coal for generating electricity from 25 percent of all power generated to now less than 2 percent, with a complete phase-out occurring this year. This is one of the main reasons that electricity rates are forecast to rise 42 percent over the next five years.

With coal gone, more and more natural gas is being used to produce baseload power, a consequence of which is that our chief natural-gas supplier just requested a 40 percent price hike to account for supply shortages during this unusually cold winter. Had our coal stations remained on line, things would have been very different.

As Ontario moved away from coal, our economy suffered immensely. Our per-capita debt is now $20,166, more than five times that of California ($3,844), and the province pays about 9 percent of its revenues for interest on its debt (California pays about 3 percent).

While there are many reasons for this financial disaster, there is no question that closing down our most reliable and least expensive source of electricity played a major role in reducing Ontario from a once-prosperous “have” province within the Canadian federation to a “have not” province dependent on the charity of wealthier provinces.

Who will support the United States if you similarly damage your economy by getting rid of coal, your most important source of electricity?

TOM HARRIS

Executive director

International Climate Science Coalition

Ottawa, Ontario

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