Trenton-Hillside group wants pressure on province over NSP

Published on May 17, 2017

Protesters with the Trenton-Hillside Environmental Watch marched near the office of Central Nova MP Sean Fraser Wednesday. The group wants the federal government to pressure provincial governments to do more to stop emissions from coal-fired generating plants such as Nova Scotia Power in Trenton.

©Sueann Musick

NEW GLASGOW – A local environmental group brought its issues into the provincial political ring Wednesday.

The Trenton-Hillside Environmental Watch, which has been lobbying provincial and federal governments for years to do something about the fly ash emissions, took their protest to the front of Central Nova MP Sean’s Fraser office, but it was looking for comment from those involved in the provincial campaign.

Peter Boyles, a spokesman for the watch group, said it is time the federal government pressured the province to get a handle on the emissions from such plants as Nova Scotia Power.

“Something has to be done,” he said. “In Nova Scotia and in particular Pictou County, they are not doing anything.”

In 2012, the federal Conservative government exempted Nova Scotia from federal timelines that would see the closure of electricity plants that use coal. However, as part of the deal, the province had to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020. The deal also stated that 40 per cent of all electricity had to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.

Boyles said the Trenton-Hillside group, known for its protests in front Nova Scotia Power’s generating plant in Trenton, has dealt with every provincial party over the years and but not enough has been done.

The environmental group want to the see plant start using a more environmentally friendly fuel so that fly ash would be eliminated from the emissions.

Boyles said he is now one of several community members and elected officials who sit on an advisory board with the NSP plant to stay up to date on happenings at the plant, but there has been little progress moving away from coal use.

He asked that renewable sources be the topic of the committee’s next meeting in the fall. Boyles said he knows there is pushback from other groups opposed to wind towers or tidal power.

“I never heard of wind or tidal power affecting people’s health,” he said. “There are 65 different metals in coal and they are bad metals.  It is just not us (Trenton residents), you are all getting it.  We just see it more.”

Boyles said candidates from the Progressive Conservative and Green Party visited the protest to speak with the group.

Pat Dunn, Progressive Conservative candidate for Pictou Centre, said his party is committed to passing a Clean Air Act to have regulations in place that would enforce the laws much better than they are now.

Dunn, who visited Boyles at the protest, said he toured the plant with the environment minister when he was MLA for Pictou Centre during his first term and following that he introduced an act at the time to address some of the concerns.

“The act we are talking about now will strengthen that one,” he said.

The News reached out to Liberal and NDP candidates Wednesday for comment on the topic, but calls were not returned by press deadline.

The NDP platform states the party is committed to introducing an environmental bill of rights to guarantee that communities have the right to clean air and water and it will establish an independent environmental commissioner to enforce the bill’s provisions. It also states the party will fight climate change by legislating a hard target for greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2030 by the end of the first year of its mandate.

In March 2016, the Liberal government said the province is on its way to meeting its 2020 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.