Subsidizing dirty coal instead of insulating houses

The provincial budget introduced this week fulfilled the Dexter Government’s campaign promise to bribe support middle class consumers with $30 million in annual subsidies for greenhouse gas production. The cynical gambit election promise will rebate provincial HST on residential electricity, an energy source fueled by filthy, health-degrading, planet-destroying coal. It will save consumers about $10 per month.

Writing at, Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia director of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternative, gives the plan a drubbing. Money quote:

This is not a significant saving for those who are struggling to pay their bills. It is, however, a significant loss of revenue to the government of approximately $15 million this year and $30 million next year… [A]n across the board energy rebate also benefits those who are not struggling to pay their bills; those who have high energy costs because they choose to own large homes, for example. This program will also benefit landlords who may or may not pass on savings to their tenants.

Saulnier doesn’t share Contrarian‘s worry that the election handout will encourage consumption of dirty electricity, but it certainly will do nothing to curb it. Instead of pissing away $30 million a year in a manner most Nova Scotians won’t even notice, government could have put the money into its anemic $1 million program to support home energy refits. Instead of 1,000 homes per year, the program could have cut energy consumption to 30,000. Over a 12-year period, that would cover every household in Nova Scotia.

I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the indifference to environmental issues this displays, or the pretense that it’s an attempt to “help families.”

Hat tip: Mike Targett.