Rachel Notley’s carbon tax is claiming its first victim: the entire town of Grande Cache, Alberta.
Grande Cache is a coal town. The town was built in 1969 as a service town for the coal mines and it grew into a service base for oil and gas companies drilling on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rockies. The town has seen a series of layoffs over the last two years at the local coal mine and, according to one Grande Cache town councillor, a full one third of the town’s jobs have disappeared.
Grande Cache is facing aging infrastructure, growing debt, higher operational costs because of the carbon tax and a swiftly dwindling tax base caused by residents being forced to leave due to layoffs or business leaving because the people are leaving. It’s a recipe for disaster. The town is dying fast and that has prompted council to ask the province to examine if the town should dissolve back into the surrounding municipal district.
In November, right after the first NDP budget, Grande Cache Coal laid off 220 people and announced a suspension of underground mining operations effective Dec 24, 2015. The previous January, the company laid off 200 people when it suspended surface mining operations as a result of global coal prices. Grande Cache is a town of 4,300. One in 10 people in town were laid off in 2015, and that’s just at the coal mine.
The mine kept 40 people on, hoping mining operations would pick up. But Notley is ensuring it won’t. She laid out her plans to kill Grande Cache in her Climate Leadership Strategy.
Buried deep in amongst the tax hikes to diesel, gasoline, natural gas and rail fuel, was a tax hike that was meant to kill those coal mines still hanging on, the metallurgic coal mines like Grande Cache Coal. Notley put a massive tax hike on coking coal, coal not even used for electricity, coal like the kind mined in Grande Cache. Coking coal will see a tax hike of $63.59 per tonne in 2017 and $95.39 per tonne in 2018. That’s designed to kill coking coal and kill towns like Grande Cache.
This is exactly what Rachel Notley did to oil and gas and it worked. She’s taking advantage of the low world commodity prices and adding her taxes and uncertainty on top of it to smother what’s left of the market share in Alberta. It’s her recipe for destruction.
Notley just didn’t care. Grande Cache and all the people who call it home are just collateral damage in her war on fossil fuel wealth.
Photo Credit: Grand Cache Coal