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CTA: Revisions to Liberal carbon tax scheme fall short

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion announced changes to his carbon tax proposal yesterday designe...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion announced changes to his carbon tax proposal yesterday designed to ease the sting for truckers, who would shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost.

However, the Canadian Trucking Alliance says the proposed changes to Green Shift fall short and do not go far enough. Under the proposed changes, $900 million in green tax incentives would be earmarked towards helping the forestry, trucking, agricultural and fisheries industries adopt ‘greener’ technologies.

“Through the summer, Canadians came with good ideas to improve the Liberal Green Shift plan, to make it stronger. And we listened,” said Dion. The Green Fisheries and Transportation Fund would account for $250 million of the incentives over four years.

Specifically, truckers would be able to tap into the fund to pay for technologies such as: auxiliary power units; aerodynamic fairings; fuel-efficient tires; and trailer side skirts and more efficient tractor-trailer combinations, according to the plan.

David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance and an outspoken critic of Green Shift, says the changes will do little to help the trucking industry.

“The trucking industry is already making the shift to smog-free engines, ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel and proven and available GHG busting technologies and devices,” he said. “What we need is a rebate program to accelerate the investment, especially during these tough economic times.”

Bradley continues to tout the CTA’s own enviroTruck initiative which would encourage the early adoption of the latest generation of smog-free trucks. He also said the announced changes were vague and it was not clear how much would actually trickle through to truckers.

“When the Liberal proposal is looked at over four years and spread across all the freight modes and the fisheries industry, it is unclear how much will really be available for the trucking industry,” Bradley pointed out.

The CTA has said the trucking industry could find itself paying an extra seven cents per litre for diesel fuel under the plan, which does not increase the price of gasoline. That could cost the trucking industry as much as $500 million per year.

“We still end up paying significantly more tax at a time when the industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar, border delays and a freight recession in both the United States and parts of Canada,” said Bradley. “The goal of any environmental program should be to eliminate smog and reduce GHG’s as quickly as possible. The technology exists in trucking to do that and our enviroTruck program lays out a clear and efficient plan for achieving this.”

He added: “A rebate program is a key part of that especially in current economic conditions when investment capital in a tight margin business like trucking is scarce. But as the dominant mode of freight transportation and the only mode that currently must comply with regulated emissions from its fuels and engines, it is unclear how a broad program for all modes let alone the fisheries industry will help to ensure that the funds paid into government coffers from taxing our industry’s most costly business input – fuel will flow back into the trucking industry to any reasonable degree.”

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