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No Frackin Way


Fracking In Nova Scotia:

Why the big secret?

While everyone's frothing about fracking shale gas in Nova Scotia, for the past two months in the House of Assembly COAL was the subject of a great deal of debate, but not a word of it is ever mentioned or reported by the usual suspects and eco-experts. Why the big secret?


Managing partner in the Donkin Coal project, global mining giant Xstrata, has been in talks with Nova Scotia Power for about four years but those negotiations went off the rails briefly in late 2009, when tighter environmental restrictions on emissions were introduced. Talks were restarted after authorities adjusted the timetable for implementing tighter environmental controls, allowing the power company to continue using "local coals or higher sulphur coals until 2014 or 2015, when more strict emissions begin to kick in." ... The power company is already using Nova Scotia coal from Pioneer Coal Ltd. of Antigonish, which operates a strip mine in Pictou County near Stellarton and another strip mine on the site of the former underground Prince Mine in Point Aconi. ... If Nova Scotia Power signed on to acquire up to one million tonnes of Donkin coal, with a savings of $20 per tonne in transportation costs alone, Akerley says, it would save the utility about $20 million a year. With the energy content 15 per cent higher than the Colombian coal, he maintains, it would represent another $15 million saving for Nova Scotia Power.


MR. MACLEOD: This has all been very interesting, but we have to get back to - by your own admission today, we’re still going to be burning coal in 2020 and years after that. It could be more than the 35 percent that is projected in your slides...

It is my understanding that we have good, quality coal here in Nova Scotia that we’ve used for many years in the past and we could use now; coal that is higher in BTU quality, it doesn’t have the transportation costs that are associated with importing coal and we could put Nova Scotians to work rather than people in Colombia or other countries... ... 

Why is it that if we’re going to have to burn coal we’re not going to be burning Nova Scotia coal to meet Nova Scotian needs and have a made-in-Nova Scotia energy plan?

MR. HUSKILSON: I think first of all we do burn Nova Scotia coal
MR. MACLEOD: Not enough.

MR. CHRISTOPHER HUSKILSON: (President & CEO Emera)  We burn - 10 per cent or 20 per cent of our coal is from Nova Scotia... ...

MR. MURRAY COOLICAN: (Deputy Minister of Energy)

You’re right that in 2020 it looks like there will still be a significant coal burn. In spite of the tremendous transformation that our electricity supply will have gone through, there will still be significant coal and it could be more than 35 per cent.... ...

The other things that we’re looking at and monitoring, there’s work being done at Cape Breton University around underground coal gasification, which we’re continuing to stay in touch with them, which is another potential opportunity to take advantage of the coal resource in Cape Breton. There has also been some interest as well in coal-bed methane, not just in Cape Breton but in the Pictou-New Glasgow area and we’re continuing to look at that as well.... ... 

Sydney Coal Basin future

Nova Scotia Seeks Bids for Coal Gas Exploration
April 14, 2010


MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: The last thing I just wanted to ask about that then is, in terms of the placement there has been talk about Point Aconi and there was another site.


MR. YOUNGER: Lingan, thank you. Has there been any further development on where the landing site would be?

MS. TOWER: (Emera VP) What we have to do is lay the cable and build two converter stations to convert it from direct current to alternating current. We think the best place for one of those converter stations is on an existing high voltage substation that we have today. If you look at that, it likely favours the Point Aconi site, but we’re not at the detailed engineering, but that would be our hunch, if you will, right now.


Powering Nova Scotians: "Reclamation" of the Prince Mine Site in Point Aconi, Cape Breton over 5 years and 2 million tonnes of coal later with no end in sight.


MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton West. … …

MR. MACLEOD « » : Mr. Speaker, it was really nice that the Minister of Energy tried to answer that question… … That being said, Mr. Speaker, at the Resources Committee meeting on October 20th, officials of the minister's department stated that by 2020, 35 per cent of the electricity that's needed in Nova Scotia would come from fossil fuels. He said, "We see coal and petroleum co-potentially as low as 35 per cent . . ." That's exactly what his deputy minister said.

My question to the minister is, if we still need coal in the coming decade, why isn't the minister demanding that Donkin coal be used instead of shipping coal in from places like South America?

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CHARLIE PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity here to have a few minutes to speak on Bill No. 66. It's really an opportunity to speak on energy and electricity prices in our province, and that topic certainly is an important one for all Nova Scotians and certainly is one of the key priorities of our government….

Unfortunately, we've seen the cost of power or electricity escalate significantly over the past number of years. The biggest driver in those electricity cost increases have been coal - coal that comes from outside our province, from outside our borders, and often has come in from as far away as Columbia, in South America. In fact, until very recently, 80 per cent of the electricity consumed in Nova Scotia came from coal... ...

This government has a concrete plan to take our energy into the future and to really put it into our own hands. It's one that we're well on the way to implementing. Our renewable electricity plan sets some of the most aggressive targets in the world and, by 2015, we'll be at 25 per cent of our electricity produced by renewables - right from our own province - and by 2020, we'll be hitting the 40 per cent from local and regional renewable sources.

MR. SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER » : Mr. Speaker, I never got a chance to meet my father's father, my grandfather, because he passed away before I was born, but he was a Gaelic speaker. I have no doubt that if he had heard this talk of this Augean stable, he would say that it was only a pile of cach.

MR. SPEAKER « » : I would advise the member for Inverness to be very careful with his language. I'm assuming that "cach" is a lot like "dung," so we'll move on.

MR. MACMASTER « » : Yes, Mr. Speaker, you're quite accurate in your assessment.

This resolution that we're debating talked about life becoming more expensive for Nova Scotians…. …. ….  I know my honourable colleague from Cape Breton West asked a couple of questions about wind energy, but we did not receive any clear answers on why wind is here to replace coal. We also didn't hear what the cost of wind was…. …. 

I just want to read to you. We talk about actual facts and figures around energy rates. I have a contact in the energy industry and I was speaking with him the other day and I was trying to determine, what is the cost per megawatt hour to generate electricity in this province? We see coal, which is much loathed for its environmental consequences, but coal's cost per megawatt hour is $50. Wind is between $100 to $150, so it's two to three times more expensive. Tidal, they hope, is in the neighbourhood of $150 per megawatt hour. That's only hopefully, because we're not there with it yet. We look at natural gas - that's between $20 and $100 per megawatt hour - it's volatile though, because the price changes a lot. Crude oil is obviously volatile as well, we see that at our gas pump, that's about $100 per megawatt hour. And if we look at solar, I've heard estimates of up to $800 per megawatt hour.


Inverness Chapter of the Council of Canadians and Margaree Environmental Association's Press Conference announcing legal action to quash the oil drilling permit issued by the Nova Scotia Government, at Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton Island.
MEA Neal Livingston interview on CBC radio: Livingston.Lake Ainslie Appeal_159588.mp3


The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER « »: Madam Speaker, it's interesting that, you know, it's important if we're going to have a discussion about this, to have the correct facts. …

So the problem with that is that the idea in this bill makes a lot of sense but some of the statements that have been made by the Third Party around this are simply pure rhetoric because we're dealing with the costs that they introduced and we're dealing with a bill, or the origin of a bill, EGSPA, which that actual government, and at the time Minister Parent, didn't actually outline the costs at the time. I'm glad that they've had this change of heart and think that we should do this now. I actually think that it makes a lot of sense to do it but (Interruption) Oh, I'm sorry for that…. 

But coal is going to be part of our mix for a long time. In the committee hearing that the member for Cape Breton West and the member for Hants West and I were recently at, Emera even said - I think it was 35 per cent, when they looked out for the foreseeable future, is going to represent coal. We're still going to have to address that issue.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER « » : Madam Speaker, I would think the government would welcome this legislation. The cost of energy is the most important issue facing our province today, whether your household depends on it or whether your job depends on it… …… 

So let's shine the light on the cost inputs that generate electricity in this province. coal, for instance, $50 per megawatt hour, that's the cost to generate a megawatt hour of electricity through coal. Wind, as we know, sometimes replaces coal on the grid, when wind is blowing. This, of course, is because the province has legislation requiring that we move towards renewables. Of course that was put in place by the previous Progressive Conservative Government.

Now the thing with wind is that when it replaces coal to generate electricity on the grid, it does so at a cost of $150 per megawatt hour. There is simple math, going from $50 per megawatt hour to $150 per megawatt hour. So if you, or if any Nova Scotian out there, went to a gas station and had the option of purchasing a $50 tank of gas or a $150 tank of gas, which one would Nova Scotians choose? I don't think there would be much debate.

Those are pure facts, Madam Speaker, and I'm hoping that the government members are accepting those facts because they are facts. If my numbers are wrong then please table some numbers that dispute them.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Thank you Madam Speaker…. … We're talking tonight about power rates and the impact that they have on the people of Nova Scotia.

Now, I've listened to the Minister of Energy and the member for Kings North talking about this expensive coal and they're saying that that's the reason we have such a problem with our power rates. As a matter of fact, the minister on August 13th, he put out a press release and it said " . . . imported coal is costing our consumers dearly". I would like to table that, Madam Speaker.

There is a cost for coal, no question, and my colleague, the member for Inverness, went through the costs, but his very own department, the Energy Minister's Department, told the Resources Committee regardless of what took place, in the best-case scenario, 10 years from now, 35 per cent of the needs of electricity in this province is still going to be met by coal - and that's in the best-case scenario. Nova Scotia Power, when they're putting out their platform, they'll tell you that they're going to need coal for the next 20 years, and we need to have power … ..

Now I've said in this House and I've said many times, and I've had the Premier even sneer at me when I said we should be burning Cape Breton coal. He said we don't have any mines - that's what he said when he was sitting across there… …

Why is it that we don't want to burn Cape Breton coal? It makes no sense to me. There is some Nova Scotia coal being used now, why couldn't it all be Nova Scotia coal?

Nova Scotia Coal consumption


MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Madam Speaker, I'm certainly glad to be able to take my time here tonight to add to the discussion about the motion that's before the House, this hoist motion where we would put this bill off for six months to allow time for consideration of what's going on. ...

All I hear sometimes from our Minister of Energy - who by the way I respect, but he says, well you know, coal is dirty, we shouldn't be using coal and do you know what there are chances, there are problems, there's new technology coming out all the time, but we need to go to green energy and our Party is in favour of going to green energy. His own department will tell you that this province will be reliant on coal for the next 10 to 20 years, regardless of how much green energy we put in place. They will tell you that, his department tells you that, it's not me, his department. Nova Scotia Power will tell you that…. … 

I can tell you, Madam Speaker, some of those people who live in this province who say, we need all green energy - and I have no problem with green energy, I want to make that very clear, I have no problem with green energy - but the minister's numbers say that you're going to be relying on coal for some time to come, so we should be using Nova Scotia coal, we should be putting Nova Scotians to work and we should be doing it in a way that we're all proud and taking and helping to solve a problem that is, indeed, major in this province. (Applause)


MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER « » : Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to rise on the amendments to the Environment Act, and let me start by saying that I'm pleased that the minister chose not to include the administrative penalty section in these amendments of the bill... ...

There has to be a mechanism for people to have that final say, to say, listen, this is a provincial responsibility or it's not - or it's a municipal responsibility, or a local one. That isn't addressed anywhere, and I think that that's something that we need to come to terms with, how we address that.

I would like to use an example from Cape Breton, where I know a number of members get called - and actually Stellarton as well - they're getting a number of calls about coal dust. I think probably all members have been copied on some of the e-mails showing, you know, coal dust covering school yards after some of the explosions in some of the strip mines. Well, of course, in a number of those cases the dust levels have been within the allowable realm of the permit. So the question is does that become something that the Department of Environment would look at, or doesn't it, because sometimes it won't and sometimes it doesn't meet the - or I would assume that sometimes it doesn't meet the regulations. So that is something that sort of becomes a grey area that we need to figure out how to deal with, because people have reasonable concerns and they certainly deserve answers to that.


MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD « » : Madam Speaker, I want to say what a pleasure it is for me to get up and speak on Bill No. 70 that was introduced by my colleague, the member for Hants West.... 

Now, Madam Speaker, it's very important that we talk about this issue. The poor member back there got some bad research because he said, very clearly, that we have been hostage to expensive, imported coal for 25 years - shackled by it. The reality is that the coal was produced here in this province, and still is, but up until 2002, the Cape Breton Development Corporation was the main supplier of coal for the generation of power in this province, not 25 years ago as he would have us think to put a shackle to.

The other thing that's important to know is today (Interruption) - you know what? I hope that the member will give us some time to actually address all the issues that he gave misinformation on. I probably don't have enough time for that because there's been a lot of misinformation. The reality is, today there's still coal being produced in Stellarton, in Pictou County, and in Cape Breton County, that supplies Nova Scotia Power.

I hear the Minister of Justice saying, shame. ... ... The reality is that the Department of Energy will tell you, with all their plans, with all their green plans, in 10 years' time this province will still be 35 per cent reliant on coal-fired generation... ... ..

What really is interesting - the member on the opposite side of the House provided us with a chart because he wasn't sure if we understood the numbers he was quoting. He's right, I didn't understand them because they weren't factual.

The chart says that coal has gone up in price. He's right. That's the one thing he did get right, it's gone up (Interruption) - by 76 per cent you say? So, here's the interesting thing that he didn't tell you, that wind energy, even at the increased cost of coal energy, and what it costs to supply a kilowatt of power, wind energy is still two thirds the cost higher than coal energy. That's the thing you never bothered to bring forward, but that's okay because you didn't know.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order, please.

MR. MACLEOD « » : Madam Speaker, I am sorry for using that word. Being an old shepherd, "yous" come easy to me.

When the member opposite says we are shackled by expensive imported coal, it's obvious that he doesn't understand how it worked. You know what, I want to point out to him that Donkin is on Cape Breton Island, it's a place where you can get lots of coal. I know that some people on the mainland think that we're another country, in Cape Breton, but we are not. We are part of Nova Scotia. As a matter of fact we are where Nova Scotia started and I think you people here in Halifax sometimes need to take that into account. But for him to say that we're shackled by expensive coal imported from other areas is not correct, it is not correct; the coal came from Cape Breton and Cape Breton is a big part of this province. It is a shame that he doesn't understand that, it's a real shame because normally he's a pretty good guy.

Let's just recap where we're at. We have a Department of Energy, run by that government, which says that in 10 years we have to move to green energy - not a problem - says in 10 years time that 35 per cent of the needs of energy in this province will be produced by coal.

MADAM SPEAKER « » : Order, please. We have one minute remaining its becoming difficult to hear the member. I'd ask that the members either take their conversations outside the chamber or keep it down a little bit longer, for just a few more minutes.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACLEOD « » : That you very much for that wise ruling, Madam Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Its story time with Uncle Al.

MR. MACLEOD « » : I take exception to the member saying that it is story time because it is only the Department of Energy that says 35 per cent of the needs of this province, the whole province, Cape Breton Island included. (Interruption) Well, again he's over there rambling on about private funding. We still are going to need coal. This man, and you, and the government should understand that coal is going to be part of it. It should be Nova Scotian coal, thank you very much.

Donkin Mine, Cape Breton, NS


MADAM SPEAKER « » : The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD « » : Madam Speaker, I'd like to offer a few comments on Resolution No. 2778. I'll start by saying that this discussion today is a reality check on what is really happening in Cape Breton, and that's why the resolution is here: 15.7 per cent unemployment in Cape Breton is simply not acceptable. It's half that unemployment rate in Halifax. Cape Breton, the last time I looked, was still a part of Nova Scotia, and should be treated equally as all other areas of rural Nova Scotia should be treated.

There are a couple of issues in my area and the areas of the other members from Cape Breton that are of grave concern to us and one is that we'd like see an early resolution to the Donkin mine situation; we'd like to see that mine open as quickly as possible and I would hope that the government would stop talking about the evils of coal in Cape Breton and start helping us to develop that particular industry, which in effect would take the place of importing coal for the generating stations.

It's absolutely ridiculous, Madam Speaker, when the government can sit back and rail on about fossil fuels on a number of occasions and yet it's no problem for them to import coal from the States, Venezuela, and everywhere else, and we have coal sitting in Cape Breton that could be adapted to meet the necessary environmental concerns that anybody would have.

Donkin Mine Plan

The Global Coal Industry, Nova Scotia’s Energy Plan and the Donkin Coal Project, Erdene Resource Development Corp.
November 2011



In 2005, I attended the announcement in Donkin on the new mine at Schooner Pond. I expected a mine much sooner. However, I now realize that many factors go into the development of a mine, not the least of which is the state of the world economy, industrial approvals, and communication with stakeholders. However, the $30 million invested in the operation by Xstrata and Erdine Coal is a good incentive to continue. Xstrata itself has done an excellent job of communicating its intentions. When the mine comes into production in 2014, I predict it will provide very good paying jobs for a long time and much value-added for the community.

- LeRoy Peach lives in Port Morien. His column appears every two weeks in the Cape Breton Post.



No Fracking Way! Provincial Day of Action (for those who still don't get it)

Members of Occupy N.S., and other local environmental organizations, are holding a rally and march in Halifax, to educate and denounce the use of Hydraulic Fracturing. And encourage folks in other cities and rural communities that may be directly affected by fracking to hold local rallies and demonstrations, stand in solidarity across the province, to show the government, and corporations we DO NOT consent to fracking our land. (But DO consent to strip mining and coal gasification regardless of what the majority of people in the local communities have been saying for years!)

Grand Parade Square, Rally and March
January 14th 1:00 pm

Cape Breton
The Rotary, At the Causeway CBI
January 14th, 11 am - 1pm


MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012

The provincial Moratorium on strip mining 13 more sites across the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for "surface coal" expires in April 2012.

Coal sites across CBRM

Meanwhile, Donkin sits approved to mine undeground thermal coal for over two years now but still idle because Lack of coal buyer stalls mine:

Sydney Coal Basin

Why the big secret?
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

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