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LETTER: Ford's Bill 165 would be bad for environment

'Our premier seems to think that there is a substantial future in Ontario for much more use of ‘fossil’ gas,' says letter writer
2020-08-20 Doug Ford OPP announcement 1
Premier Doug Ford is shown in this file photo. | Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

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Once again, Premier Doug Ford is maintaining that he knows better than the experts.

He and his energy minister, Todd Smith, have claimed that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has made a mistake.

The OEB is an independent regulator of the energy sector in Ontario. In December 2023, it made a decision that would eliminate the subsidy for developers to establish new connections to the gas system for residences and small businesses.

Instead of the cost of the installations being passed on to all Enbridge customers over 40 years, it would have to be paid up front. The implementation of this directive would create an incentive for developers to consider the installation of heat pumps instead of gas hookups. Heat pumps, says the OEB, would lower heating costs for the occupants of new housing and reduce additional costs for current gas customers.

With this decision, the OEB is clearly fulfilling its mandate, which is to foster Ontario’s economic and environmental development while protecting the interests of individuals. This would be a win for the environment, a win for the climate, a win for present and future energy consumers in Ontario, and a win for new home buyers.

Unfortunately, Doug Ford has launched Bill 165, which, if passed, will overturn the decision of the OEB. The premier proposes to then reinstate the 40-year revenue horizon for new natural gas hookups. Our premier seems to think that there is a substantial future in Ontario for much more use of ‘fossil’ gas.

Premier Ford has already been made to back-pedal several times on his government’s policies and actions, some of which were in direct opposition to its own advisers. I’m hoping that, with enough protesting voices, he can be pressured to do so again.

While other cities, provinces, states and nations are legislating for the phase-out of fossil-fuel consumption, Ford wants us to continue to contribute to the devastatingly dirty, destructive, and greenhouse gas-emitting business of fossil-fuel extraction and use. Instead, we must dramatically reduce our use of ‘natural’ gas as quickly as possible and transition to more sustainable energy sources.

Ontario has an obligation to our nation and to the global community to do its share to combat the accelerating heating of the planet, but our province, under Ford’s leadership, is failing to take the required actions. Under Doug Ford’s governance, Ontario does not have a climate plan.

The more we delay taking action to combat global warming, the more it will become an uphill battle and the more costly it will be for all of us.

The Ontario Energy Board’s wise and responsible decision must stand. Bill 165, which benefits only Enbridge, must be stopped.

Wendy Kirk