On the last day of the spring sitting of the Saskatchewan Legislature, Premier Scott Moe defended his decision to push Saskatchewan’s net-zero emissions targets to 2050, despite comments made by the federal environment minister.
On Wednesday, federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault said it would be illegal for Saskatchewan to keep operating its coal-fired power plants past 2030.
Ottawa has ordered that coal fired power plants shut down, or implement carbon capture by the end of 2030. Eighty-one per cent of Saskatchewans electrical supply is fossil fuel driven, and 41 per cent of that is coal.
Moe said the standard to meet federal emissions targets is not feasible.
The federal governments standards for zero emissions electrical generation by 2035 are unrealistic and unaffordable, Moe said in a provincial news release on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after question period on Thursday, Moe said his government is standing up for an affordable and reliable power supply in Saskatchewan.
“If where we’ve come to in this country is when individuals in this province or any other province flick their lights on or their furnace fan kicks in, that that’s deemed illegal and cause for someone to go to jail, come get me,” he said.
Moe said residents need to have affordable and reliable power in the province.
“Why would we spend $20 billion extra for a less reliable power system in Saskatchewan, one that at least will double in cost.” he said.
Moe said Saskatchewan has the largest and most sustainable potash industry, as well as agriculture, uranium and steel and said they are all positive investments that are contributing to population growth in the province.
“It could all be put at risk with the doubling or tripling or quadrupling of the power rates in Saskatchewan,” he said. “As a province, we reserve the right to make that decision, the same goes for our coal-fired facilities.”
Moe said his government was pleased when the opposition joined them in supporting the plan to ensure they have the opportunity to run their natural gas facilities to the end of their life.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, NDP Leader Carla Beck said on Wednesday, the opposition had to concede and join the province’s plan.
“Because of 16 years of inaction and actually turning back progress by this government, I’m not sure that there is a path to 2035, but I think we do need to reduce emissions as quickly as we can in the province,” she said.
Beck said this position respects the working people in Saskatchewan, and people in the province who are struggling to pay their power bills right now, but said they can’t deny the reality that emissions need to be reduced.
“I accept that responsibility,” she said.
She said the NDP put forward an amendment on Wednesday to Moe’s motion to add a recognition that the province needs to reduce emissions, which she said was rejected.
“We’ve got the federal government imposing targets that really don’t make sense for Saskatchewan, we’ve got the provincial government willing to stick their ground and do nothing for 16 years,” she said.
“We’re in a mess, we have to upgrade the grid.”
Beck said right now, people mining coal and building pipes are caught in the middle and are wondering what the future of their jobs are.
“I think it’s time to get past these politically polarized games and actually get people to the table and start building solutions,” she said. “I think the people of this province deserve that.”
Premier Moe isnt worried about the federal government coming after him as he keeps coal fired power going past 2030. He doubts the Trudeau Liberals will still be in power.