The Canadian Association of Physicians For The Environment are strong supporters of Rachel Notley’s coal phase out. But does it really matter?
The doctors’ group says that closing coal fired generation will save millions in healthcare costs by eliminating one third of the sulphur dioxide from the Alberta Atmosphere. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says Albertans "can save hundreds of millions of dollars in costs that impact the healthcare system."
Millions? That’s horrifying. Sulphur dioxide is a main component in acid rain. Should I be worried about going outside and having my face eaten off by acid snow? Silly me. I thought we took care of this problem when the first George Bush was president, with the signing of the Acid Rain Accord.
Well, that’s the thing. We actually we did take care of this problem. I checked.
If you're worried about ambient sulphur dioxide, the prairies are the best place to be. In fact, we are way better than BC and Ontario. So while reducing emissions by a third seems like a lot, Alberta SO2 levels are already at 0.6 parts per billion. Yes, that’s per billion. Shutting down all coal fired generation would only save Alberta 0.2 parts per billion of atmospheric sulphur dioxide.
So is it really worth all the lost jobs and energy poverty to forge ahead with Notley's no coal plan?
I don’t think so. It’s just not worth the poverty.
But you know what is costing our healthcare system? Poverty. A study done under the direction of the Ontario Association of Food Banks found that poverty accounts for $7.6 billion in Canadian healthcare spending.
If the NDP want to save money on healthcare, they need to keep people working and keep our energy costs low. And phasing out coal won't do any of that.
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