OTTAWA - The Harper government was warned by its own experts at Environment Canada two years ago that a multibillion-dollar plan to boost production of green fuels could cause more problems than benefits, Canwest News Service has learned.
The warnings, in briefing notes sent to former environment minister Rona Ambrose, suggested there were too many risks involved from increasing production of ethanol which, in Canada, is largely produced from corn and wheat crops.
"Feedstocks and biofuel production consume large amounts of water, natural gas, biomass, electricity and fertilizers," said one of the briefing notes, drafted on May 16, 2006, by a technology strategies and climate change division at Environment Canada.
The government offered $1.5 billion in subsidies to support farmers, agricultural and energy companies which produce ethanol from corn or wheat last spring.
The documents were released to Canwest News Service under the Access to Information Act.
"Based on global Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) of biofuel production, impacts on acidification, land degradation, waste generation, water use and human and environmental impacts were found more often to be unfavourable than favourable."
Environment Canada's research suggested that ethanol produced from waste products is much more sustainable, but the government created a smaller fund of $500 million, specifically to support this type of "next generation" ethanol.
Given the looming crisis, can Canada really afford to have all these educated bureaucrats on board, with their informed analysis and good guidance? Seems to me, on every occasion, this government develops policy in an isolated fashion, never using the reservoir of talent to get it right, more content with photo-ops and pre-determined points of view. So, what's the point? I say, send a signal to the Canadian public, not only ignore but CAN, get spending under control and do away with pesky suggestions, that make total sense. The last thing Canadians need is people with true knowledge, wasting weeks and months, compiling these nice proposals, only for all the effort to be ignored. I say, just do away with the whole process, the peer reviews, the roundtables, the analysis, the implications, all the nonsense that never finds a voice, cut it off at the knees and save a bundle in the process. The end result is the same, seems like a no brainer from here.