Gen X at 40

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Paul of Kingston -

Decision making based solely on direct costs is always a dodgy prospect and the folly of it is evidenced by the billions of dollars in environmental liabilities that we, and other countries, currently own as a result. If cost per megawatt were the only factor to be considered then we might be best off burning wood or the poor.

The indirect costs to the environment and public health (externalities in accounting-speak) associated with traditional fossil fuel consumption are becoming very well documented. The principal beneficiaries of projects such as the tar sands or coal-fired generation are the individuals and institutions who invest and provide the required capital. The folks who must pay the cost of public health care and environmental remediation are principally the taxpayers.

Times must change. Federal and Provincial governments must begin replacing investment in dirty projects with taxation to underwrite 100% of their indirect costs to the environment and public health. That makes not only good sense fro mthe perspective of preventing unbwanted impacts on our society and environment but also good policy in allowing new and cleaner technologies access to capital.

In a proper accounting that includes environmental and social costs, coal and tar sands projects reveal themselves as the poor choices for public investment and support that they are.