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‘Energy-rich’ B.C. could be self-sufficient in 20 years

Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun
Develop solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and tidal energy, report urges
British Columbia has the potential to become energy self-sufficient within 20 years, according to the Vancouver-based Globe Foundation, and could do so using entirely renewable sources.

The non-profit Globe Foundation, in a study titled The Endless Energy Project unveiled Monday, acknowledged that forecasts call for B.C.’s population to increase by 30 per cent by 2025, which would raise demand for energy by 20 per cent under current patterns of use.

However, aggressive energy conservation measures in building construction, a shift in auto fleets toward hybrids and more fuel-efficient cars could help reduce provincial energy demands to near 2000 levels by 2025, the foundation argues.

And the development of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and tidal energy resources could displace the rest of B.C.’s non-renewable energy, including providing the power needed to create biofuels for domestic automobile travel.

The forecast relies on some assumptions, report author Keith McPherson said, one being that energy prices will rise and the cost of technology for solar, wind and geothermal energy will drop enough to make them economically attractive.

And some of the foundation’s other assumptions, such as building the Peace River system’s Site C dam and the gasification of coal into liquid fuel as a “cleaner” energy source, are likely to prove controversial.
(20 Feb 2007)

Global Warming Demands Local Fixes

Bryan Zandberg, The Tyee
Half of greenhouse emissions are controlled at municipal level
Plum in the middle of B.C.’s oil and gas boom, Dawson Creek Mayor Calvin Kruk is never far from a reminder of Canada’s dependence on oil.

“I can see a flare stack from where I’m sitting right now.” he said, talking by phone from his home in the city of 11,000 last Saturday. “The place is buzzing with oil and gas activity.”

The working-class municipality of Dawson Creek, however, is so ahead in implementing green initiatives it’s uncanny. City hall has already been fitted with solar panels and the cop shop is next in line. Green retrofits planned for public buildings are projected to cut back 43 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. The town is looking at adopting its own green vehicle policy, and considering building a bio-diesel plant.

Perhaps most ambitiously of all, Dawson Creek is pushing to invest, along with government and industry, in a $200-million wind energy project that will line a ridge just outside of town.

“I’ll also be able to see those from where I’m sitting right now,” noted Kruk, who is in his first term as mayor.

At a time when both federal and provincial leaders are falling over each other trying paint themselves green, a new book shows that when it comes to global warming, B.C.’s civic leaders are already rolling up their sleeves. Going for Green profiles a number of flinty local leaders who are well ahead of the curve — and last week’s throne speech by Gordon Campbell.

They have every chance of making a solid impact. A recent study showed that up to half of all greenhouse gas emissions have to do with decisions made in municipalities.
(20 Feb 2007)

Environmentalist in the White House: What Are You Doing Here?

Richard Wolffe, Newsweek
He heads Treasury, not the EPA, but Hank Paulson is investing time in making this White House greener.
…[the new Treasury secretary Hank Paulson] is a rare species inside the Bush administration. Environmentalists see this White House as a bastion of backward thinking; Bush has angered them (and America’s allies) by sometimes questioning the science of global warming. Yet Paulson cares deeply about climate change: during his seven-year run as chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank issued a policy paper backing the science on warming and promoting investment in alternative energy.

In recent months Paulson has played a leading role in the administration’s debate about energy-and he’s had an impact on environmental policy. It was Paulson who encouraged the former oil executives in the West Wing to embrace ambitious targets to cut by 20 percent the amount of gas Americans are forecast to consume by 2017 (part of the plan outlined in Bush’s State of the Union). White House officials portray the policy as a team effort, but identify Paulson as a driver. “He was very involved in the energy proposal,” says a senior White House official, who declined to be named while talking about the internal debate.

Paulson had an expansive view of his job almost as soon as he started in June. By August he had identified energy security as one of his priorities, as well as Social Security reform and trade with China. A small team began working on ideas outside traditional Treasury business-some of them so politically sensitive that the team feared they might leak out before the November elections. Among them: putting a floor on the price of oil to subsidize alternative fuels. White House and Treasury officials deemed that idea too costly to administer-and out of line with GOP ideology. So Paulson’s team worked with Bush’s economic aides and the Department of Energy to head in a new direction: setting higher standards for fuel efficiency and alternatives like ethanol to spur new technologies.
(26 Feb 2007 issue)