Canada proposes rebates for electric cars, voluntary sales mandate

A Nissan Leaf, an electric car that produces zero tailpipe emissions, can be seen on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa. File Photo by Mike De Souza

The Trudeau government is proposing to help subsidize the cost of buying an electric car by up to $5,000, but has declined to establish a more stringent sales mandate, opting instead for voluntary targets.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s 2019 budget, delivered March 19, proposes to spend $300 million over three years to introduce a nationwide “federal purchase incentive” of “up to $5,000” for electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that sell for less than $45,000.

It also proposes providing $5 million over five years for Transport Canada to “work with auto manufacturers to secure voluntary zero-emission vehicle sales targets” to make sure that supply meets demand.

The government wants to encourage more Canadians to drive zero-emission vehicles, to help improve local air quality, cut carbon pollution that contributes to climate change and reduce transportation costs for families, according to the budget tabled by Morneau, who is known to drive his own electric car.

The amount of electricity required to power an electric vehicle costs far less than the amount of gasoline required to travel the same distance. Gasoline engines, which burn a mixture of air and fuel, are also less efficient than electric motors at converting potential energy into powering the wheels. MORE

Major Pipeline Delays Leave Canada’s Tar Sands Struggling

Keystone XL’s construction has been delayed by the courts, tar sands forecasts are down and investors are worried.

Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty
Credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty

March has brought a string of setbacks for Canada’s struggling tar sands oil industry, including the further delay of two proposed pipelines, a poor forecast for growth and signs that investors may be growing wary.

On Friday, a federal appeals court in California refused to lift a lower court order that blocks construction of the Keystone XL pipeline until a thorough new environmental assessment is completed. The decision likely pushed back by a year the start of major work by TransCanada, Keystone XL’s owner, to complete the project.

The same day,  ExxonMobil affiliate Imperial Oil said it was delaying a new tar sands project in Alberta, likely by a year.

Those setbacks followed an earlier announcement by Enbridge, another pipeline operator, that it would delay the completion of its Line 3 expansion through northern Minnesota by a year, to late 2020. That project is one of two other major pipelines planned to carry oil out of Canada’s tar sands, also called oil sands. MORE

Spinach, strawberries and kale top annual report on the most pesticide-tainted produce

Annual analysis finds almost 70 percent of U.S. fruits and vegetables have pesticide residuesImage result for Spinach, strawberries and kale top annual report on the most pesticide-tainted produce
Credit: Farsai Chaikulngamdee/Unsplash

If you’re going to buy organic, strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines and apples might be a good place to start.

Those are the top five U.S. fruits and vegetables most tainted with pesticides, according to the annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce report from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

The report, released today, found nearly 70 percent of U.S. produce is contaminated with pesticides, and more than 225 pesticides or pesticide breakdowns compounds are found on our nation’s produce.

There are a broad range of pesticides, and it’s still not entirely clear how much residue may harm people.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which produces the pesticide data analyzed by EWG, just last December boasted that the U.S. food supply is “among the safest in the world” for pesticide residues.

“More than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” the agency said in a statement on the most recent round of pesticide testing.

However, the new EWG analysis is concerning because many pesticides found on our food have been linked to cancer, respiratory problems, depression, endocrine disruption and impacts to people’s reproductive systems. Studies increasingly show that these health impacts are linked to exposure at levels below the thresholds set by federal agencies such as the EPA  MORE

Developers and realtors ask Queen’s Park: How far are you willing to go?

ANALYSIS: The home-building lobby wants the province to override municipalities in order to make room for millions of new homes. The question, writes John Michael McGrath, is whether MPPs — and voters — are willing to entertain the idea

Image result for carpenters home building

Two of the province’s biggest pro-housing lobby groups want Queen’s Park to bring the hammer down on municipalities that are happy to accept the province’s money when it comes to transit funding but drag their feet when it comes to accommodating the new housing that’s supposed to go with it.

“We’ve got a lot more people chasing fewer and fewer homes,” said Tim Hudak, former Progressive Conservative Party leader and now head of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “If we have to wait for all of the municipalities across Ontario to catch up to modern times, it would be the grandkids of millennials trying to get a home, not millennials today.”

For more than a decade, provincial policy has encouraged intensification around transit lines. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (the policy that guides development in the region) has always included language encouraging dense construction around transit. But the effect of that language has been to help developers win their arguments at the Ontario Municipal Board (now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) — it doesn’t, on its own, remove municipalities from the approval process. SOURCE


The Neoliberal Road to Serfdom

The oldest refrain of the Right is that socialism leads to tyranny. Yet for the last four decades, it’s neoliberalism that’s been inching us closer to a police state.

People walk by a surveillance camera along a street in the Financial District on April 24, 2013 in New York City. Spencer Platt / Getty

The fear of socialism is mostly based on one idea: that the end of the road of bigger government is the totalitarian horror of the early twentieth century.

Sure, there are other objections, usually involving muttered words like “market” and “efficiency.” But for the fathers of neoliberalism like Friedrich Hayek, what it really came down to was the fear that every increase in the role of the state was just one more step toward the chimneys of Dachau: power concentrated among a know-it-all elite deaf to the problems facing its people; ever-present surveillance of the population, whether “suspect” or not; a vast, armed bureaucracy ready to stamp out dissent; countless bodies locked and tortured in prisons; and a state that asserts the power to treat its citizens as mere subjects while demanding secrecy and impunity for itself.

It wasn’t just Hayek, writing in the shadow of the Second World War, who obsessed over this fear. Right-wing, anti-government rhetoric in the Obama years was saturated with talk of Nazis, Hitler, and tyranny, until those same people embraced a wannabe authoritarian of their own in 2015. Speaking of whom, in the midst of one of his recent anti-socialist broadsides, Trump recently asserted that “socialism eventually must always give rise to tyranny.”

Halting this threat was supposedly the great promise of capitalism. You might have had the freedom to starve and die from preventable disease, but you at least had all the political freedoms denied by authoritarian states.

Reality has proven this to be nonsense. The gulag hasn’t come to Sweden or Norway just because their governments pay for people’s medical bills. Not to mention that the society envisioned by socialists devolves decision-making power, whether economic or political, to working people, rather than concentrating it in the state.

But put this to one side for the moment, because it’s now clear — more than seven decades after Hayek worried that “what was promised to us as the Road to Freedom was in fact the High Road to Servitude” — that it’s neoliberal capitalism that has put us on that high road. MORE


Capitalist Freedom Is a Farce

Milton Friedman was wrong. Capitalism doesn’t foster freedom — it produces autocratic workplaces and tyrannical billionaires.


What We Should Really Do for the Climate

Very Confused Activism 

The trickier source of confusion is a long-running, mainstream message suggesting that the best way individuals can impact climate change is through isolated consumer lifestyle tweaks. Messages like stop eating meat or stop flying planes or stop driving cars have largely dominated the conversation on what we can do to impact this issue. These are important actions to take, but only when they’re done in the context of a concerted, collective campaign.

What these messages are advocating are boycotts. An individual’s cutting meat or flying can impact climate change only if many, many people participate in such boycotts. While it is certainly worth trying to get many people to participate, mainstream media articles and even activist messages rarely discuss the fact that such boycotts typically only impact industries when conducted at scale and when they’re effectively targeted. Boycotts work when directed at a particular company and a particular behavior of that company and then are joined by many people. Think, for instance, of boycotting Nike (specific company) for its sweatshop labor (specific behavior). This kind of boycott can be very effective and have cascading effects through the entire market, changing the behavior of other companies until the whole industry has shifted. But the need for targeted campaigns is rarely incorporated into calls for lifestyle tweaks. There’s instead just a vague admonition to “go vegan” or “stop driving.” A lot of the calls to “go vegan” have resembled sporadic shouting into a vacuum lacking a shared set of values or political goals rather than a coordinated effort to change anything. The message has become more a social goal post—are you in or are you out?—than a concentrated campaign to shift the food system.

A more effective strategy to reduce the impact of meat consumption might look like a campaign to get a lot of people to boycott a few particular meat production companies that engage in destructive behaviors like building CAFOs, clear-cutting rainforests, and abusing antibiotics. Shutting down or pressuring these companies can have cascading impacts that result in making meat a lot less carbon- and land-intensive and cruel. Yet, vegetarian and vegan movements simply haven’t achieved this outcome in the many decades they’ve been active: meat consumption is rising rapidly around the world with devastating consequences; the industry is more destructive than it’s ever been. MORE

Thank you, climate strikers. Your action matters and your power will be felt

Nothing is possible without action, and almost anything is when we rise up together, as you are today

‘The real lessons of history is that change often comes in unpredictable ways.’ Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

I want to say to all the climate strikers today: thank you so much for being unreasonable. That is, if reasonable means playing by the rules, and the rules are presumed to be guidelines for what is and is not possible, then you may be told that what you are asking for is impossible or unreasonable. Don’t listen. Don’t stop. Don’t let your dreams shrink by one inch. Don’t forget that this might be the day and the pivotal year when you rewrite what is possible.

What climate activists are asking for is a profound change in all our energy systems, for leaving fossil fuel in the ground, for taking action adequate to the planet-scale crisis of climate change. And the rules we are so often reminded of by those who aren’t ready for change are not the real rules. Because one day last summer a 15-year-old girl sat down to stage a one-person climate strike, and a lot of adults would like to tell you that the rules say a 15-year-old girl cannot come out of nowhere, alone, and change the world.

Sweden’s Greta Thunberg already has.

They will tell you the rules are that those we see in the news and the parliaments and boardrooms hold all the power and you must be nice to them and perhaps they will give you crumbs, or the time of day, or just a door slammed in your face. They will tell you that things can only change in tiny increments by predictable means. They’re wrong. Sometimes you don’t have to ask for permission or for anything because you hold the power and you yourselves decide which way the door swings. Nothing is possible without action; almost anything is when we rise up together, as you are doing today. MORE

The Green New Deal: A Strategy for a More Equal United States

The Green New Deal often gets portrayed as simply a program for climate protection. But the Green New Deal — as proposed in a new congressional resolution from Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey — stands just as boldly as a strategy to counter America’s grotesque and growing inequality. The resolution they’ve introduced calls for “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal era.”

Such a mobilization, notes their resolution, provides “a historic opportunity to create millions of good, high-wage jobs, virtually eliminate poverty in the United States, provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all U.S. persons, and counteract systemic injustices.” The Green New Deal resolution outlines a vision of what we need to do to address the dual crises of climate change and runaway inequality. What policies and programs could help us realize that vision? My recent Labor Network for Sustainability discussion paper — Eighteen Strategies for a Green New Deal: How to Make Climate Mobilization Work — lays out a comprehensive strategic framework that draws on the experience of the original New Deal and the homefront mobilization for World War II. This framework envisions a Green New Deal active on a variety of fronts.

The Green New Deal will use the powers of government to rectify past and present injustices. Green New Deal jobs protecting the climate will be available to those individuals and groups who’ve been denied equal access to good jobs, with job recruitment programs that include strong racial, gender, age, and locational affirmative action to counter our current employment inequalities.

Green New Deal programs will also require standards for local hiring and minority business enterprises and provide job ladders within and across employers so those who currently face only dead-end jobs won’t face only dead-end jobs in the climate-protection economy. MORE

Tsilhqot’in gather sacred water from Teztan Biny for Vancouver World Water Day event

The Nation is asking supporters to gather outside the BC Court of Appeal for the ceremony on Friday, March 22

Fresh sacred water collected from Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) will be used at a gathering outside the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver on World Water Day, March 22 to protest an exploratory drilling permit.

The Tsilhqot’in Nation is applying to the Supreme Court of Canada to halt drilling near the lake for Taseko Mine Ltd.’s proposed New Prosperity Mine 185 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

On March 1, the Tsilhqot’in Nations’ appeal in the BC Court of Appeal was dismissed.

To augment the March 22 court date, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said the Nation is asking supporters to gather outside the court house at 8:30 a.m. where there will be a special gathering with drumming and songs. MORE