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Candidate Responses to Voices for Good Air Logging Slash Burning Questions

Attached are the candidates submissions to the following questions:

1) Are you prepared to advocate for a carbon tax on logging slash burning, such that the tax would be supportive of innovative ways to better utilize what is currently being considered waste material or otherwise required to maintain forest floor biodiversity and nutrient regimes?

2) Are you prepared to advocate for a complete ban or an interim moratorium on logging slash burning given health effects, economic losses that are associated with better fibre utilization, impact to backcountry recreation and tourism, and concerns regarding climate change?

3) Current provincial policy is that carbon emission from logging slash burning does not contribute to the problem of climate change provided that sustainable forest management practices are employed (e.g., replanting). However, the province is pursuing carbon credits for replanting trees. This is a double standard. Are you prepared to advocate for fair and proper accounting of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon credits?
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/open_burning/pdf/obscr-paper.pdf …see section 4.10, page 12 for reference

4) Are you willing to meet with Voices for Good Air representatives during the election campaign?

Rod Taylor’s response:

1) I don’t support a carbon tax but I agree with recovering wood waste where practical and returning it to the land.

2) There may be some cases where it is impractical…where a complete ban would be too onerous; it certainly should be restricted and require an exemption permit for special circumstances.

3) Smoke has its problems health wise and in terms of negative impacts on the view / tourism/ etc. However, I do not believe carbon dioxide is the major culprit in global warming and many scientists share my view.

4) Yes, of course. We need to continue to share information and proposed solutions to environmental issues.

Jon Rempel’s Response:

(1) I am running a campaign based in part, on axing the carbon tax, It has been a huge burden to our citizens, especially those in the interior, the north, and those already affected by poverty, it has done nothing to reduce fuel use in BC, and therefore has done nothing for the environment, it has not been completely revenue neutral, and it costs a huge amount of tax dollars to administrate. So no, I do not advocate to tax the burning of slash piles.

(2) I can’t advocate for a complete ban or moratorium on slash burning without considering a whole host of issues around it, and I can’t make that decision based on a request from one group when I am running to represent ALL citizens in the riding.
That being said, I am well aware of the negative health impacts of wood smoke on our health, as well as fine particulate from road dust that is high in silica , and the negative health affects of that on our citizens. Personally I don’t see a problem with just not burning them, and I also think the fibre is underutilized, we need to examine why the BC Liberal Fibre Action Plan has not led to more utilization of logging slash. I propose that if elected MLA of Nechako-Lakes on May 09, I will within the first 6 months, bring Voices for Good Air, local industry and community leaders and myself together for a meeting on this topic, industry leaders may have concerns about liability of not managing the slash and folks from the local community’s may have concerns over fire hazards and such. But I’m sure if we sat down together we could work these issues out and then make a decision that would be in the best interest of all citizens of the riding.

(3) Axe the BC Carbon Tax, focus our attention on the real toxins and carcinogens that are polluting our environment on a daily basis.

(4) Yes I will meet with Voices for Good Air if they request, no problem.

Doug Donaldson’s Response:

April 28, 2017
Dear Voices For Good Air:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the questions you have posed on logging slash burning. First I would like to commend you on the volunteer work you have done to date resulting in the solutions-oriented position paper. It is obviously a well-researched document and is a credit to the professional experience and dedication of those involved in its creation.

I believe logging slash burning has important implications from a health, environmental and economic perspective.
On health, we know the Bulkley Valley has an air quality issue at times of the year due to residential, industrial and transportation sources. The fact that air quality in Smithers in 2016 exceeded the provincial annual average objective of 8 ug/cubic metre of PM 2.5 levels means that peoples health was impacted. Smoke from slash burning was part of that causation. I was in Smithers in the fall of 2016 when the plume of smoke from 400 ignited slash piles descended on the Bulkley Valley. And I followed up on that incident as the Stikine MLA in a meeting between the Town of Smithers and the BC Liberal Minister of the Environment, as well as on a conference call with local and regional Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Ministry of Environment staff. And we do know that this isn’t just a concern from last year. Back in 2010 in the legislature, I raised in Question Period the issue of 3,800 logging slash piles being burned around the Burns Lake area.

On the environment, in your position paper you point out that in the Bulkley TSA alone 4,000 logging slash piles are burnt per year and in the province as a whole it may be as much as 400,000. This equates to an enormous contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in BC, which is a greenhouse gas and a focus of climate action strategies, even when you consider the carbon sink of reforestation.

And on the economy, the volume of wood that is simply burnt each year has the potential to support jobs in the forestry-related sector. This is especially true as the unprecedented levels of raw log export under the Christy Clark government has led to an increase in quality wood being burned as logs are trimmed to length for shipping offshore. Six million cubic metres of raw logs were exported last year under the BC Liberals.

The predominance of using one method to dispose of so-called ‘wood waste’ – to burn it – is not in the interests of the residents of Stikine from a health, environmental or economic point-of-view. If re-elected as Stikine MLA I commit to working on implementation of alternatives to slash burning such as the ones you discuss in the position paper – converting to biochar, burying, stacking to create slower decay, manufacturing some of the waste wood. On the later point I am especially interested in tenure solutions that will enable small-scale, value-added operations opportunities to access fibre in order to support jobs. I also support the need for an updated micro emissions inventory for the Bulkley Valley and the continued monitoring of PM 10 and PM 2.5 in Smithers.

A BC NDP government will reduce the number of raw log exports, expand investments in reforestation, update the environmental assessment process, and modernize land-use planning accounting for cumulative effects. And we will renew the Climate Leadership panel within our first 100 days, and work towards implementing their full suite of recommendations. We will phase in the federally mandated $50/tonne carbon price and use new carbon revenues in measures that help families and reduce carbon pollution.

Clean air, water and land are the foundation of strong communities and sustainable jobs in Stikine. As your MLA I will work towards economic decisions that strike the proper balance.
Thank you for this opportunity, and for the work you have done. I look forward to meeting with Voices for Good Air representatives any time during this election campaign.

Yours truly,
Doug Donaldson
BC NDP candidate Stikine

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