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Saskatchewan association continues carbon tax fight

Posted: August 14, 2017 by John G. Smith

REGINA, SK – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is retiring from politics, but the Saskatchewan Trucking Association is continuing his fight against carbon pricing – and also recommending steps that should be followed if such a tax becomes a reality.

“We have supported the provincial government’s stance on a carbon tax since the beginning, and that has not changed,” said Susan Ewart, executive director, when releasing a related white paper on Friday. “The actions the federal government is planning on taking for backstop jurisdictions are not trucking-friendly and place an unfair burden on industry. Proper policy planning will prevent those actions.” 

According to the association, a carbon tax would create an administrative burden, give U.S. carriers operating in Canada a competitive advantage, create budgeting challenges for trucking companies, and create inequalities between different transportation modes because of exemptions for marine and aviation.

If such a tax was introduced, however, the association is recommending changes to help expedite the rollout of environmentally friendly equipment, using tools such as “green fund” rebates that would be funded by carbon pricing revenue.

“The industry’s business goals align well with the goals of a carbon pricing system — reduced greenhouse gas emission via reductions in fuel consumption,” the white paper concludes. “While it may seem like a burden on a diesel dependent industry, the Saskatchewan Trucking Association views this as an opportunity for the trucking industry and policymakers to work together to create innovative solutions that will reduce consumption. A carbon pricing system alone will not reduce emissions. Innovative policy will.”

Such innovative policy would involve reducing the red tape that creates a barrier to “simple solutions”, the association says, referring to the slow-moving allowances for technologies such as boat tails and extended wheelbases for B-trains. “Change must come faster, to allow the industry to adapt more quickly, to ensure Saskatchewan can remain competitive on a national scale.”

The white paper also cites the importance of allowances for new generation wide base single tires, which are part of a permit pilot program introduced July 1, and the benefits of natural gas vehicles.

B.C. and Quebec have established carbon taxes, and this year Alberta introduced a carbon levy on fuels at a rate of $20 per tonne, increasing to $30 per tonne as of January. Ontario also introduced its cap-and-trade system early this year.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have refused to sign the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Ottawa has warned that if Saskatchewan does not implement carbon pricing, it will be done for the province.

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