Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Campaign Update: Ryan Meili

Ryan's Website: LINK

As promised, here comes our look at Ryan Meili's recently released environmental policy. The full policy can be found at the link above, and we'll take as close a look as we can at the policies that it contains. In addition to this post, we'll also try to get the latest news from the other campaigns (especially with regards to Erin Weir's CPP and OAS proposal) up today as well.

So, let's get started.

The first plank of Ryan's plan stems around Energy Production. Ryan's plan call for an investment in safe and renewable energy sources, akin to the way the CCF/NDP electrified rural Saskatchewan in the 1950s. This should focus on wind, solar, bio-mass, while reducing coal power production. The plan also calls for a feed-in tariff to allow community energy co-ops to sell energy into the grid, aided by a new mandate for SaskPower.

The second plank revolves around Energy Efficiency. Ryan's plan calls for the establishment of a body independent from SaskPower to focus on energy conservation, and establishing and ensuring guidelines for the construction and retrofitting of buildings to be more energy efficient. Couple this with increased safety for low-income housing by providing free energy and safety audits (carbon monoxide detectors, fall assessments, etc.) that aims to save energy and health care dollars. Create an energy efficiency plan for industrial users and ensure that these industries are paying a fair share for the energy they use.

The third plank revolves around Climate Change. Ryan's plan calls for a strategic plan with reduction targets for 2020, 2030, and 2050. The providing of tax incentives to landowners for maintaining wetlands, woodlands, and grasslands when maintained as natural carbon sinks. Investment in public research to identify and promote sustainable and resilient farming methods and crops that will be required as the climate changes.

The fourth plank revolves around Protecting and Preserving the Natural Environment. Ryan's plan calls for safeguarding our water by enforcing current regulations and conducting bottom-up watershed based planning that is supported by provincial legislation and action. Retain and protect all native grassland on Crown lands, including community pastures. Work with Northern Communities, conservation organizations, the forest industry, and First Nations to improve stewardship of the forests that cover half of Saskatchewan. Protect farm land and pastures by providing incentives for farmers who want to produce for local markets, use fewer pesticides, or diversify food production in the province; and to ranchers who want to raise grass-fed animals with fewer antibiotics. Establish a Citizens Ecological Health Monitoring Agency to monitor impacts of human activity on the environment, composed of a scientific advisory council and citizens data-gathering and monitoring program. Conduct regional strategic planning to ensure the Ministry of the Environment has both the information and tools to regulate and our activity and protect the environment.

Looking at the policies, as is my want, I'd say the one that stands out the most is the Citizens' Ecological Health Monitoring Agency. It's an interesting concept to have an independent body outside of the government that is propped up through scientific inquiry, and citizen input, to act as a guiding hand to assist government environmental policy. It's an idea that's definitely in line with Ryan's call for evidence based politics, and hopefully it's something we'll hear more about in the upcoming debates.

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