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Letter from Ministry of Finance

Ref: 391229

Len Vanderstar
lvanderstar1761@citywest.ca

Dear Mr. Vanderstar:

Thank you for your email sent on May 5, 2020, regarding B.C.’s carbon tax. We appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas and feedback.

On May 30, 2017, representatives of the BC New Democrat Caucus and the BC Green Caucus signed the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA). The CASA established a number of policy initiatives to be advanced, including the application of the carbon tax to slash pile burning.

Each year, government reviews provincial taxes and considers changes in preparation of the provincial budget. The government then implements tax changes that it determines to be appropriate within the context of the province’s fiscal situation and other priorities. We thank you for letting us know the importance of slash pile burning to British Columbians such as yourself. This type of feedback is important as we prepare for future budgets.

Thank you again for taking the time to write. We appreciate your support and input on how we can build a better B.C.

Sincerely,
Office of the Minister and Deputy Premier

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Spring greetings Hon. Carole James,

I hope that you are enjoying the sights and sounds of spring at home or in Victoria. The bird migration is in full glory here in the Bulkley Valley.

One of your government’s election promises was to institute a carbon tax, or lack of a better term, a carbon surcharge on open burning of logging slash piles. The intention of this was to create an incentive to minimize the amount of slash piles being produced, and use the carbon surcharge collected to offset (subsidize) operators who would make use of the slash piles for either biochar, biofuel or alternate products. An organization that I belong to, Voices for Good Air, an affiliate of Clean Air Now (https://can-bv.ca/), has been outreaching for some time to stop open burning of slash piles for the betterment of our airsheds, public health, and reducing GHG emissions (notably CO2 & methane). If an out-right ban is not practicable, although currently it is with the covid-19 state of emergency, then having incentives in place for alternate uses of otherwise discarded forest material makes sense, both environmentally and economically.

There has been some operational funding subsidization for alternate use of slash piles through the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, but this program has already committed $243 million out of its $235 budget allocation, and the program does not appear to be up for funding renewal. The operations being funded by FESBC are not utilizing the slash piles but pulp logs for wood pellets …I do not think that it is the intention to use live trees of pulp quality as a source of biofuel – this is not what your government committed to, but now optically seems to be endorsing as a primary source material for wood pellet plants in NW BC and beyond.

Last October, B.C. Premier John Horgan touted a lucrative Japanese export contract for Pinnacle Renewable Energy, by saying the company was “transforming wood waste into industrial pellets to provide Japan with clean, renewable electricity.” https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019PREM0112-002002 Is the Premier aware what the real source material for pellet production currently is? Are trees graded as pulp logs deemed to be “wood waste”? I think not, and I am certain that Hon. George Heyman and Hon. Doug Donaldson, among yourself and the Premier would agree with me.

Having said all this, has any legislative drafts regarding the slash pile carbon tax/surcharge been initiated? Shortly after the election, I met with Hon. George Heyman’s executive assistant regarding timing of the legislation roll-out, but to this day I have not received any confirmation or certainty.

Any insight that you can share would be much appreciated.

Len Vanderstar
Director – Voices for Good Air
250-847-9729

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