Thursday, October 19, 2006

Clean Air - Act II

There may be good reasons for the opposition parties to allow the passage of the Conservatives new neutered Clean Air Act. While the new act is flawed, the keys to what may make it acceptable are the fact that it is only a regulatory framework - i.e. it does not set specific targets or standards, and that the opposition parties are united on strengthening environmental protection and hold a majority in Parliament. This would allow the opposition parties to pass additional legislation that would set far more aggressive targets and standards than the Conservatives have in mind.

For example, the new Clean Air Act has apparently encorporated the 1981 Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act - and the Conservatives plan to "Harmonize" Canadian fuel efficiency standards with those of the United States. Rather than complying with US federal emissions and fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, the opposition parties should force the government to comply with tougher California standards which Washington, Oregon, New York, Massachusets, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island have all either already adopted or signalled their intention to do so. Likewise with Green House Gas emissions, the new legislation provides a regulatory framework (which Conservatives claim the Canadian Environmental Protection Act lacked) to allow the governent to set targets and regulate green house gas emissions. With the framework in place, the opposition parties, rather than demanding the government present a plan to meet its obligations under the ratified Kyoto treaty, should legislatively enforce the 2002 Kyoto targets.

Of course, from a purely political point of view this is probably bad politics. Opposition MPs from all parties would have to explain why they voted to pass the Conservative's new bill, while at the same time saying it is weak and ineffectual. The public generally doesn't have the attention span to understand nuanced arguments. Sometimes there is a political price to doing the right thing.

1 comment:

petroom said...

Go have a vote, even if you're not card-carrying:

Anyone-But-Iggy Web Poll