The Canadian Press – HANNA, Alta. — The hand-painted sign on a bumpy road on the east side of Hanna speaks volumes. “Hanna supports coal, cows, gas and oil,” it says bluntly. The sign includes a circle with a line through it over the words “carbon tax.”
The town of 2,700, 230 kilometres northeast of Calgary, like many rural Alberta communities, has largely lived off agriculture. But a large vein of thermal coal east of town led to the construction of the coal-fired Sheerness generating plant in the early 1980s and has provided welcome jobs and business in the region ever since.
People worry that economic boost is threatened by a new carbon levy and the provincial government’s plan to shut down coal-fired power plant by 2030 and move exclusively to natural gas, wind, solar and hydro energy instead.
Alberta’s climate-change plan includes an accelerated phase-out coal, which accounted for 55 per cent of electricity generation in the province in 2014.
“If it’s a complete 100 per cent closure we’re going to lose 200 full-time, well-paying jobs. That’s about 7.5 per cent of our population,” says Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick.
“To put that into real life numbers, Edmonton losing 7.5 per cent is about 62,000 people — Calgary’s around 90,000 — so it’s a massive hit. These are well-paying jobs so it’s not a good situation for us.”
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