Alberta’s carbon tax to wrap up May 30

The new United Conservative Party government in Alberta introduced legislation last week to kill the contentious carbon tax.

The government says the tax will officially be scrapped on May 30 at 12:01 a.m.

Premier Jason Kenney said the repeal will free up a tax burden of nearly $1.4 billion, as well as create 6,000 jobs, saving the average small business $4,500 per year and the average family $1,150 annually.

The job creation number is based on estimates done by Stokes, an economics and consulting firm, but the numbers could change if the federal levy is implemented.

“We’re keeping our commitment to eliminate this tax grab to create jobs and put more money back into the pockets of hard-working Albertans,” Kenney said in a news release.

Team Alberta, a group that represents the main crop commissions, estimates the tax cost $2.5 to $5 million for grain drying in 2018 province-wide.

Despite the tax being scrapped, however, it still isn’t clear over what will happen to the programs funded by the levy.

Funds have gone to agricultural programs, helping farmers install solar panels, efficient cattle waterers or upgraded irrigation systems to reduce costs.

As well, they’ve funded Energy Efficiency Alberta, an agency that doles out the funds for energy savings programs, like new light bulbs and windows.

A UCP official said all programs funded by the levy are under review, but any changes will be announced when they are made.

For now, Energy Efficiency Alberta will remain intact, though Kenney has previously suggested the agency could be scrapped.

He has pointed to the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regime as a way to tackle climate change.

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said the UCP is ignoring climate change by axing the levy, pointing to a Bank of Canada report that stated climate change threatens the economy and financial system.

“Climate change is an urgent issue for our society and our economy,” she said in a news release. “Jason Kenney and the UCP’s plan is to ignore the problem and walk Alberta into a dead-end for our environment, our economy, and our future.”

The change in legislation means any funds that have been collected from the carbon tax, but not yet spent, can be used for whatever the government deems necessary, like general revenue.

Prior to the change, carbon tax money was required to be spent on green programs.

Notley said this change allows the UCP government to pay for its tax cut for corporations, rather than using it on community projects.

“Government can ignore the signs of a changing climate and be dragged along, or we can show leadership and make our own choices for the security of our kids, our environment and our economy,” she said.

With the new legislation, the government will give fuel re-sellers, like gas stations and bulk fuel dealers, 30 days to apply for a refund on carbon tax they paid on their inventory.

Previously, fuel re-sellers were required to pay the tax to the refineries they sourced their products from.

Fuel users and re-sellers can continue to apply for any outstanding rebates and refunds following the repeal. They will only have two years to do so.

However, the federal carbon tax could be applied to Alberta once the provincial levy is scrapped.

Kenney said he would take the federal government to court if the federal levy is imposed.

The former Climate Leadership Plan, Notley said, was on track to cut more than 50 megatons of emissions over the next 10 years. As well, she added, it supported more than 5,000 jobs in the last two years.

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