Monday, June 11, 2007

Maybe Quebec is a distinct society after all!

Tansi/Good Day Folks:

Recently we've received chain e-mail letters calling on us to support one day boycotts of motor gasoline purchases to protest high prices and higher profits by the oil industry.

Last week the Province of Quebec announced it was implementing a carbon tax, as well as, considering the imposition of a ceiling price on gasoline. To the best of our knowledge no other jurisdiction in North America, and perhaps beyond, has yet to go as far. We support this kind of distinct society.

Clare L. Pieuk
Quebec The First To Announce Carbon Tax
Starts At 0.8 Cents A Litre
By Kevin Dougherty
The National Post
June 7, 2007
Page A1

QUEBEC - Quebec will have the country's first designated "carbon tax" to help fight global warming, it was announced yesterday.

Provincial Natural Resources Minister Claude Bechard, who announced yeaterday that a 0.8-cent-a-litre carbon tax will come into force on Oct. 1, added that he hopes the oil companies, which are reporting record profits, would absorb the tax and not pass it on to the consumers. Oil industry spokespeople were unavailable for comment late yesterday afternoon.

The tax, Mr. Bechard said, is based on the "polluter pays" principle. "That is not negotiable," the minister said.

The carbon tax will raise $200-million a year to finance Quebec's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and favour public transit.

Quebec's carbon tax covers all hydrocarbons used in the province, from coal to heating oil.

The amount of the carbon tax varies according to the amount of carbon dioxide each fuel produces.

For gasoline, the tax is 0.8 cents a litre, the charge for diesel is 0.9 cents, for light heating oil 0.96 cents, heavy heating oil 1 cent a litre, coke used in steel making, 1.3 cents a litre, coal $8 a tonne and propane 0.5 cents a litre.

Mr. Bechard noted that Ultramar, which operates Quebec's largest refinery, has said it would consider absorbing the new tax but had not made a final decision.

"We hope at 0.8 cents, the oil companies will be able to absorbe it without passing on this royalty to consumers," the minister said. Especially when you realize that refinery profit margins have gone in the last three, four months from 8 cents a litre to about 19, 20, 22 cents a litre."

Asked why he thinks the oil companies will absorb the carbon tax, Mr. Bechard said, "Well, we count on the goodwill of the gas companies." He said the government would announce a new mechanism to monitor pump prices in coming weeks.

Mr. Bechard has also threatened to impose a ceiling price on gasoline. Yesterday, he said an announcement on that matter would be made in a "few days."

Energy producers, he said, should not be surprised by the tax because it was announced a year ago, CBC reported.

The announcement follows a proposal by Green Party leader Elizabeth May of a $50-per-tonne carbon tax, which could drive up gasoline prices by 12 cents per litre. The proposed tax, which could climb to $100 per tonne by 2020, was at the heart of a new climate change plan unveiled by Ms. May as the only way to avert a climate catastrophe.

Revenues from the new tax would be used to reduce income and payroll taxes, and to establish income supplements and other incentives to encourage deep reductions in the greenhouse gas pollution that is linked to global warming she said.

In Parliament on Tursday, the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois agreed with the principle of Ms. May's plan but distanced themselves from the idea of the carbon tax of $50 per tonne.

Even so, they stuck with their own joint proposal to create an investment fund to which companies could contribute at a rate of $20 to $30 per tonne in order to offset their pollution.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion said the measure would not be a carbon tax since the money goes back to industry when they reduce their emissions.

On Tuesday, Bloc environment critic Bernard Bigras said Quebec industries that have already made efforts to lower their greenhouse gas emissions could be penalized under the Green Party plan, because it does not use a territorial approach in its targets and regulations.

"There would be the same ceiling for the oil industry as for the manufacturing sector," Mr. Bigras said.

"I didn't see any early measures in the plan to reward the efforts of companies that reduced their greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

CanWest News Service


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