Submitted by Climate Action Muskoka
Dear Norm Miller MPP and Premier Doug Ford,
Last week, you announced $3.1M in Provincial funding for the expansion of natural gas distribution to Burk’s Falls and Hidden Valley, Huntsville. The mayors of both towns were enthusiastic about the announcement, citing reduced energy costs for families and businesses, and increased opportunities for growth. These subsidies fall under the provincial Natural Gas Expansion Program (NGEP), to make home heating more affordable by subsidizing new natural gas infrastructure.
Climate Action Muskoka (CAM) believes that affordable heating is a laudable goal, but new gas lines are indefensible. Any and all subsidies should be applied to converting to non-fossil-fuel, non-greenhouse-gas-producing, renewable forms of heating and energy.
Surely the Ontario government is aware of the international call to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The worldwide goal for developed countries is to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2030. To reach that goal, countries must rapidly reduce (and then eliminate) the use of all fossil fuels (and natural gas is a fossil fuel). If this is the goal, then why would any government subsidize the installation of new natural gas lines?
The program is prepared to spend $3.1M to supply natural gas to 144 homes and/or businesses: that is $21,500 per building. There are many ways to make home heating more affordable, and new gas lines are not the only option. Here are 4 simple alternatives: 1) use the funds to insulate homes and increase energy efficiency; 2) convert home heating to air source heat pumps; 3) install solar panels; 4) provide cash subsidies to reduce electricity bills.
The NGEP is not good news for people or the planet. In light of your recent announcement, CAM calls on you and the Ford government to do the following:
1. Accept the scientific evidence and policy guidance of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
2. Declare a Climate Emergency in Ontario with strong greenhouse gas reduction targets;
3. End all subsidies directed toward the production and use of fossil fuels, and;
4. Invest those provincial subsidies instead to retrofit buildings, creating local green jobs at the same time as assisting the people of Ontario to reduce their individual fossil fuel use.
Oliver Klimek and Sue McKenzie on behalf of Climate Action Muskoka
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