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A fine balance:
progress, protection
and our province's future


Shawn Graham
NB Liberal Association
November
2004

G rowing up in a rural town in Kent County, I was always aware of the great natural resources our province has to offer. Whether hiking in the woods or floating down the Richibucto River, I was keenly aware of the importance of clean air and water. And growing up in a region that depends on the forests, the fields and the sea for its livelihood, I learned the importance of balancing our resource industries with conservation efforts. That's why I have long been involved in organizations such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation and Ducks Unlimited in order to promote protection and conservation.

Richibucto River, Rexton

(photo: André Gallant)  

While each of us has a responsibility to be environmentally responsible in our choices and our behaviour, there is a role for government to play in promoting and encouraging greater environmental stewardship. I believe New Brunswick can do more than sustain our environment; we can become leaders in promoting environmentally friendly choices and new technologies.

When it comes to new technologies, I see many opportunities to be forward thinking in the energy sector.

As we expand our electrical generation capacity, we need to look at alternatives to fossil fuels in order to keep CO2 emissions down and meet our Kyoto targets.

One area for innovation is hydrogen fuel cell technology. This innovative technology combines current power generation capabilities with that of new and more efficient methods. The problem with today's "carbon" economy is that it depends almost entirely on fossil fuels for energy. These fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas, are non-renewable resources - when they are gone they're gone.

Hydrogen, on the other hand, is the only common fuel that is "carbon free." It also doesn't occur free in nature. It can only be produced using energy from an existing source. So by developing hydrogen fuel technologies, we can work toward cleaner and more efficient energy production and that's good news for all of us.

Shawn Graham
Leader of the Liberal Party of NB

(photo: Gordon Johnson)


The idea of tidal power has been explored in this region repeatedly over the past century. But today's technology offers us a better chance at capitalizing on having the world's highest tides. It's there if we dare to pursue it.

And if we can harness the power of our tides, we can also harness the power of the wind. NB Power has made some steps by promising to purchase power from Eastern Wind Power Ltd.'s 20 Mw wind farm on Grand Manan. And EOS-Eco-Energy is developing wind farms not far from here--from Memramcook to Cape Tormentine. These are initiatives worth supporting.

We can't be afraid of new ways of doing things. We have to see challenges as an avenue to opportunity and hope.

We should work to reduce energy use by offering incentives to change consumer behaviour. This won't happen overnight but there are measures government could take to encourage more efficient energy consumption.

Since the release of the provincial energy policy in January 2001, the Liberal party has supported the idea of time-of-use rates. We are glad that government finally seems to be moving in that direction. If the phone company can offer better rates at non-peak hours, why can't the power company?

Time-of-use rates have been used in Japan and other jurisdictions and were introduced in Ontario two weeks ago. This action would see lower rates available for energy use during off-peak times. Time-of-use rates give consumers a real indication of the cost of energy consumption and offer incentives for consumers to be mindful of how and when they use electricity.

We also need to look at incentives for new homebuilders who choose energy-efficient technology, as well as encouraging commercial users to be smart about energy consumption. The provincial government should be the model user and ensure that their buildings and operations are as energy efficient as possible.

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Any future progress we enjoy as a province will be hollow if we fail to provide New Brunswickers with clean air and water; if we fail to protect our environment. Together we can make better choices that will ensure that we care for our environmental riches for years to come.