Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Securing Saskatchewan's Energy Future

Ryan Meili's response to the energy motions

Earlier today, the Saskatchewan Legislature debated two motions regarding Saskatchewan’s energy future. NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili has issued the following statement.

I want to commend House Leader Len Taylor and the NDP caucus for showing leadership in introducing a balanced resolution calling for wide-ranging consideration of all options, including energy conservation, in addressing Saskatchewan’s future energy needs and recognizing that energy choices have social and environmental impacts.

The Wall government's original resolution was written to create a false dichotomy where the issue was "nuclear: yes or no", intended to trap the caucus into looking either as though they were in favour of a reactor or blindly opposed to even considering it. This tactic from the Saskatchewan Party diverts our attention from the real matter at hand.

The Wall government has ignored our real energy challenges and done nothing to address climate change. They have dismantled the Climate Change Secretariat and depleted the Green Future Fund. They have made petty investments in carbon capture and ignored conservation or conversion to renewable sources of energy. Now they are beginning a process of mock consultation designed to come to a foregone conclusion: that a nuclear reactor is the only option for Saskatchewan.

In fact, there are more options – safer options, cheaper options and better options – to address Saskatchewan's long and short term energy requirements. I would welcome an open and honest debate about Saskatchewan's energy future. When considered alongside wind, solar, small-scale hydro and other renewable energy options, it will be clear that a nuclear power plant is simply not viable for Saskatchewan – it is too expensive, too risky and fails to meet our short or long term energy needs.

Frankly, the type of consideration the Wall government has in mind is a waste of time and money. A reactor in Saskatchewan has been considered many times. The answer is still no.

We can build an economically and environmentally sustainable energy industry in this province. We have incredible resources for the development of wind and solar power. We have a choice: demonstrate leadership and be at the forefront of renewable energy, or be stuck in the unsustainable answers of the past.

When Premier Wall is prepared to stop hiding behind wordplay and "independent" panels of nuclear industry apologists, when he is ready to engage in a real debate about Saskatchewan's energy future, Saskatchewan New Democrats will be ready.

The text of the Saskatchewan Party motion (Jeremy Harrison, Meadow Lake) is as follows:

That the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan supports the consideration of further value-added development of Saskatchewan’s uranium industry including nuclear power generation and recognizes the potential benefits to the growth and prosperity of the people of our province.

The text of the NDP motion (Len Taylor, The Battlefords) is as follows:

That the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan supports the consideration of the further value-added development of Saskatchewan’s energy industry including energy conservation, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other alternative power generation, and as part of that consideration (which would obviously involve extensive public consultation) recognize not only the potential benefits to the growth and prosperity of the people of our province.

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