Energy Cost Politics and the Environment in Nova Scotia

Reflections on the Government’s Backtrack on Mercury Emissions
October 12, 2010
334.83 KB15 pages

On July 22nd, 2010, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that it would delay the mercury reduction standards for the provincial power utility, Nova Scotia Power. The Premier stated that he made this decision because the projected rate increase, which the utility said was necessary to meet the standard, “would have a devastating impact” on Nova Scotians.

An op-ed written by Nova Scotia Energy Minister Bill Estabrooks later argued that the decision struck a balance between “affordability and the environment”. In the media the Minister stated: “I make no apologies...I’ll put people first and that’s what we did in this case in the short term.”

The Minister’s statements show that a trade-off existed, in his mind, between “people” and the “environment”. Advocates of sustainable development have been striving to eliminate these types of trade-offs for decades. In Nova Scotia the government`s environmental discourse of “sustainable prosperity” emphasizes that the province’s economic future is deeply coupled with the task of creating a cleaner environment. The province’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act seeks to “demonstrate international leadership by having one of the cleanest and most sustainable environments in the world by the year 2020.”