Ontario Electricity System Operational Update Part #4: Information Smog

On January 10, 2012, Ontario retiring premier announced that the last of Ontario’s coal generators will be removed from service by the end of 2013. The official justification for the closure is based on a soup of junk information interacting in a reactive media environment to form conclusions toxic to consumers.

In the political debates that lead up to the decision to remove all coal-fired generation from service, all three major political parties endorsed a complete coal phase-out.

All of the coal units left running are fitted with modern pollution controls equipment. This equipment has dramatically slashed the emissions of pollutants that contribute to smog, particulates, toxicity, and acidified precipitation.

The phaseout decision removes from service some of the lowest cost and most flexible generation from Ontario’s generation fleet. Ontario’s power system will lose significant diversity benefits.

This is a quote from a letter that appeared January 11, 2013 in the Kingston Whig Standard newspaper. It is worth preserving as a testament to the last days of the McGuinty government.

Ontario is phasing out coal-fired electricity and its large contribution to smog in Ontario. Why? Health. The Ontario Medical Association estimates smog prematurely kills nearly 10,000 Ontarians a year. Ontario is replacing some of that smog-heavy coal-fired electricity production with zero-emission wind and solar power generation.

Jim Bradley, Ontario Minister of the Environment

Professor Ross McKitrick has debunked the OMA’s assertions here.  Even if the OMA’s assertions were valid, the contribution of Ontario’s remaining scrubbed coal units to smog is a tiny fraction of what coal contributed overall in the original OMA analysis.

Reaction to the announcement from major groups has come primarily, perhaps exclusively, from organizations that receive substantial funding directly or indirectly from the Ontario government and government-controlled agencies. One example is the Pembina Institute which reacted here and gets Ontario government-controlled funding from various places including here. Another example is Environmental Defence which reacted here and gets Ontario government funding from various places including here.

The only major groups I have found that opposed the closure announcement were the Society of Energy Professionals, OPG’s management union, which reacted here, and the Power Worker’s Union which issued this statement and with joined the Society here.

The most foolish coverage I have seen of the closure is this stinker from the PR service CleanTechnica. Written by Silvio Marcacci, the smartest part of this article is the photo at the top with the caption “Ontario government buildings”. The image presented is of one of the federal parliament buildings in Ottawa. The stuff in this article about how closing these coal units is economically beneficial and helping to cut power bills suggest that Mr. Marcacci should stick to architectural photography.

I haven’t yet seen any reaction to the coal closure announcement from any groups who regularly receive public funds to represent Ontario electricity consumers. The most recent press release of the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario dates from 2010 and praises the wisdom of the McGuinty government’s management of the power system. Other groups who regularly receive funds to participate in Ontario electricity matters who appear to have said nothing include the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Ontario School Energy Coalition, the Consumer’s Council of Canada, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

I welcome serious comments but particularly any comments identifying statements by interests groups I might have missed.




  1. Minister Bradley isn’t known for being the brightest bulb on the tree. Prof Ross McKitrick debunked those death claims some time ago. Not sure where Bradley pulls his numbers from as even McGuinty has never claimed that many deaths.

  2. I’ll bet Bradley pulled those numbers out of the OMA’s Illness Costs Of Air Pollution (ICAP) and it’s essentially a computer model. The latest numbers are from 2008 claiming 9500 premature deaths from smog and I guess Min. Bradley thinks all smog comes from coal plants. The idiocy of the data from this computer model is that it shows 70 smog related deaths in the Cochrane region, 69 in Victoria region, 299 in Simcoe , but only 37 in Dufferin. It’s all garbage and should be called out for being so.

    • Indeed.

      According to “Sustainability News” in “The Sustainability Report” ( http://www.sustreport.org/news/airpollution.html ):

      “Toronto, June 27, 2000 – Air pollution will cost Ontario’s health-care system and economy more than $1 billion and result in approximately 1,900 deaths this year, reports the Ontario Medical Association.

      The Illness Cost of Air Pollution study is based on a revolutionary software program developed by the OMA,…”

      Given that those “approximately 1,900 deaths” in Ontario that the Ontario Medical Association claimed were from “air pollution” in 2000 have now risen to “estimates” of “nearly 10,000” a year that “smog prematurely kills”;
      the expenditure of tax dollars on developing, implementing and enforcing policies of the Government of Ontario under both the Liberal and PC Parties, with regards to this issue and ongoing advisement from the Ontario Medical Association, has clearly been an utter waste.

      Unless death certificate copies are publicized before the next provincial election, which indicate this was the sole cause of death determined by the coroner for some of the people among the “nearly 10,000” a year allegedly killed by “smog”, in addition to the OMA’s definition for “air pollution”, “smog” and “prematurely” – all three major party platforms might best include promise of a complete phase-out of the Ontario Medical Association, to start cleansing Ontario of its toxic Nanny air.

  3. Yes, preserving greenspace. Too bad the provincial liberals don’t practice what they preach in their propoganda.

    On Manitoulin Island the Northland Power Inc. Industrial Wind “Farm” destroying 20,000 acres of key habitat,grasslands, wetlands and key habitat. Transport loads of trees removed from clear cutting for inefficient, expensive (15 cents per kwh price adder),unreliable wind. Any generation would be of little value to the provincial grid from line loss due to the remote location of this project.

    The approval for the McLean’s Mountain project should be recinded to protect our Greenspace and protect the species habitat that the MNR gave Northland Power Inc permits to destroy!

  4. We apparently have smog killing 10,000 a year, tobacco killing xxx,xxxx? a year, woodsmoke good for more thousands, some thousands attributed to the coal generators, how about a few thousand from asbestos and so on, All respiratory deaths and each death claimed by each cause as their own. Of course some heart problems can be be attributed to the same causes and are therefore claimed as part of those totals, compounding the fear mongering, sometimes computer generated but I suspect more often just plucked out of somebody’s overheated imagination, bogus numbers .

    I’m willing to guess that if all the wildly exaggerated, but completely unsubstantiated and scientifically unconfirmed, number of death claims generated by each of the professional health and/or environmental activist groups were added together the number would exceed, by large margin, the actual number of deaths from all causes.

    The professional fear mongers know they have the support, consent and encouragement of our elected zoo keepers because their claims can be used by the bought press propagandists and the elected puppets themselves to justify the otherwise illogical, expensive, unnecessary and divisive sustainable development projects being used to destroy the country in preparation for further governance by unelected external influences.

    In order to save even more imaginary lives from their inevitable imaginary death the US EPA introduced regulations (immediately after Obummer’s re-election) banning the use of any wood burning appliances (other than those approved by the EPA and built by their approved manufacturers, just another form of public private partnership). For all intents and purposes this is a ban on heating with wood. This legislation will force people into the use of more expensive and more easily taxed fossil fuels and electricity.

    Our Canadian elected puppets have clearly stated that Canada will tie our environmental regulations to the US regulations, so watch in the near term for a growing outcry from the professional envirowhiners, the press and government voices decrying the death and destruction being caused by dirty, filthy, poisonous, deadly unapproved wood burning appliances to be followed up shortly thereafter by legislation forcing compliance by Canadians to utopian and usurious regulations imposed by an unelected extra-national organization.

    Yes, I heat my house with wood, no other heat source. I survive on a couple of small pensions and can not afford to install a furnace and associated ducting etc., then pay for the fuel. Electricity has been priced out of the equation as a heat source. I will not be the only person to lose most of what I worked and paid taxes my whole life for.

    Brian Mulroney apparently was born into a hovel somewhere on the prairies and wants Canadians to return to that level of living conditions, he signed Canada into the UN Agenda 21 and started Canada’s decline to 3rd world living conditions and the status of a puppet state of the UN. Thanks for nothing Brian.

    • You’ve struck the toxic root, Fred. Digging it out may take wiser and less apathetic generations, unfortunately not likely to be accomplished peacefully by that point of societo-political denigration.

      How much more pathetic an all-major-party-supported, communitarian non-choice could Canadian voters ask for – which includes the Harper-led Tories currently occupying another CINO penthouse built on that already-shameful legacy more Progressive than Conservative?

      Only adults blinded by complicity, party loyalties or publicly educated into ignorance and illiteracy could not, by now, clearly see the terrifying “Sustainable Development” end to their ongoing “Whig, Tory same old story” game. Its Fabian Socialistic advancement of a political Agenda for Global Governance has obviously been incrementally delivering the Canadian herd into Our Common Future, featuring “integrated” Population Control under UN-orchestrated subservience and the ‘sustainable serfdom’ of a NEIO, for decades.
      (Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, 1 May 1974: http://www.un-documents.net/s6r3201.htm )

      From Elizabeth May’s 2009 “Countdown to Copenhagen” commentary at http://www.greenparty.ca/article-link/2009-11-06/countdown-copenhagen
      “…the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was negotiated and signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro…Under Mulroney, we were the first industrialized country to both sign and ratify the UNFCCC, which committed over 180 countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such that their levels would be stabilized before becoming ‘dangerous.’”

      Excerpts from bottom of pg 18, “The Mulroney-Campbell Years The Mulroney-Campbell Years” – http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/teaching/312/cfp-10-2009.pdf
      …Building on earlier initiatives, such as producing the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer and hosting the Toronto Conference on the Changing World Atmosphere in 1988, the Mulroney government began to prepare for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, also known as the Earth or Rio Summit) in Brazil in 1992…Mulroney helped persuade U.S. president George H. Bush to go to Rio and sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition, as one of Canada’s leading environmentalists, Elizabeth May, put it, “Let’s face it. Mulroney saved the Biodiversity Convention.”

  5. Here’s a Biggie directly attached to the OMA you missed so far, Mr. Adams:

    NEWS RELEASE January 10, 2013: The Lung Association Welcomes Early Dawn of Ontario’s Coal-Free Future

    We’re informed:
    “And it means significant savings for the Ontario economy.”

    Finer details about the alleged savings follow near closing ( notably without mentioning the source of “these numbers” either, Mr. Gallant):
    “…it will also save billions of dollars…”

    [Remembering that if any such stakeholder special interest collectives cashing in on “Health Prevention and Promotion” anywhere in the world ever did satisfy their alleged goals, there would no longer be justification for all their taxpayer-subsidized funding – as would have been the detrimental ‘effect’ of their allowing governments to ban tobacco rather than smoking in the past, which their partners in legalized plunder deliberately blocked on record, for that very reason (see NB below)… also see my previous response to Paul Kuster and the archived Canadian Health Services Research Foundation “Mythbusters” commentary subtitled Myth: An ounce of prevention buys a pound of cure at http://wayback.archive.org/web/20060901000000*/http://www.chsrf.ca/mythbusters/pdf/myth9_e.pdf ]

    NB: Quoting excerpts from the Grand Forks Herald, North Dakota, January 21, 2003 – article titled “NORTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE: Tobacco ban gets lit up in House” by Xiao Zhang, Herald Staff Writer:
    Original article url, now invalid: http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/4993792.htm
    “BISMARCK – North Dakota House representatives Monday voted overwhelmingly against a bill proposing to ban tobacco sales in the state.
    The measure, which would make selling or using tobacco products except for using it for religious purposes misdemeanors, failed by an 88-4 vote.”
    “…Six of the nine committee members who voted yes on the bill changed their vote on the floor Monday.”
    “… committee members were frustrated last week with the testimony from anti-tobacco groups that testified against the tobacco ban, including the North Dakota Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, North Dakota Public Health Association and North Dakota Nurses Association.”
    “There’s no evidence banning tobacco would prevent and reduce tobacco use because no such approach has been implemented, the groups argued. The ban also could take away certain funding forthese groups for tobacco control programs.”

    Since the OMA statistics indicate the air has only gotten dirtier in spite of the ongoing funding to clear it that was channeled by 2 political parties since 2001, The Lung Ass’n is a founding OCAT agency along with the OMA – but their joint “parent”? OCAT’s advertised email address remains ocat_at_oma.org which established their interdependency – the answer is obviously to expand their joint efforts at achieving more of the same failure to achieve a moving goal on a more “comprehensive” scope, which will require even more funding from tax dollars?


    Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.
    The insanity returned by government-endorsed “Health Promotion and Prevention” protection racket Crusades that are always fuelled with tax dollars seem to demonstrate that their insanity is not only an incurable, but untreatable political sickness that must be surgically removed from societies that don’t want to die from it?

  6. Tom, the continued use by the province of the 2005 Cost-Benefit Analysis to defend the GEA is highly misleading, since that report did not examine nor recommend wind and solar energy. The air quality simulations in the report showed that closure of Lambton and Nanticoke would reduce urban ozone levels by about 8/100 of 1% and PM2.5 would be reduced by about 5%, roughly identical to the reductions that would be achieved simply by completing the pollution control retrofit on the coal-generating units. If today’s low levels of air pollution are killing 10,000 people annually, then the air pollution in the 1960s must have been killing hundreds of thousands of people. I showed in my AMPCO presentation back in 2004 http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/mckitrick-ampco-april04.pdf
    that there were periods when the OMA model would predict more than 100% of non-traumatic deaths would be attributable to air pollution.
    PM2.5 emissions from the coal plants today are under 800 tonnes per annum, compared to 23,000 tonnes from wood-burning fireplaces and 90,000 tonnes from driving on unpaved roads. For them to maintain that the closure of these power plants is justified on air quality grounds, in spite of their own data and research showing the opposite, is deeply dishonest.

  7. With all these wild claims by our wonderful left leaning political parties, and you Dalton McGuinty. Please name any of these thousands and thousands of dying Ontario people as a result of Coal Fired Generating Station?
    Please any Green Advocate, name someone, anyone?
    We live in the most legally sensitive period of time with Personal Injury lawyers jumping out windows for Courts cases as big as this. Can you imagine a Class Action Court case blaming the deaths totally proven without a question of doubt targeting Ontario’s coal fired generating stations. It would be in the 100’s of Billions, with Personal Injury lawyers scooping up 30% of the easy win situation that our Premier Dad Dalton McGuinty has said.
    This is so moronic, yet expected by today’s emotionally lead leadership of left of centre governments. Gutless typical progressive liberalism. Can’t prove it, so create a crisis so that you can fund “friendly” alternative energy companies who sneakily fund leftist political parties and provide Board Of Governor appointments.

    • Along the same lines and for the same reasons, everyone might want to ask the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (see NB below) for the names of the people whose “premature” or “preventable” deaths have justified what will undoubtedly be a mandatory “Environmental Liability” premium added to their residential property insurance policy in the near future, therefore policy adopted by every complicit insurance company and financial institution flogging the lucrative “insurance” protection racket (whose purchase has become mandatory for homebuyers, to protect mortgage holders and governments using them in derivatives markets? Also; might the same or similar “Environmental Liability” premium be required tacked on to life insurance policies just in case any human, carbon-based dead corpse should defile “the environment” when cremated or buried (or God forbid pollutes the oceans if “lost at sea”)?

      As Petr Skrabanek tried to forewarn of years ago, in his book titled Follies and Fallacies in Medicine: “The fallacy of risk stems from a failure to distinguish between relative and absolute risks.”

      NB: Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) “About Us” page: http://www.iclr.org/aboutus.html
      Also see their global recognition and connections confirmed under “Service Providers, NGO’s, academia and others >” at the bottom of pg 23 in this enlightening pdf:

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