Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canada Makes Its Black Liquor Move

Canadian Pulp and Paper producers who invest in "improved energy efficiency and environmental performance" may qualify for funding from a new, $1-billion Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program, Minister of Natural Resources Lisa Raitt announced today.

The Green Transformation Program intends to provide funding of $0.16 (Canadian) per litre of black liquor, up to a maximum program total of $1 billion. (about 53 US cents/gallon). Black liquor is a liquid by-product of the chemical pulping process used to generate renewable heat and power. Eligible companies participating in the Green Transformation Program will be required to invest these funds over the next three years in capital expenditures that make improvements to energy efficiency or environmental performance on any pulp and paper mill in Canada, including mechanical mills.

“By making a smart investment today, we are laying the groundwork for a greener, more secure future for the pulp and paper sector and the people who work in it,” Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (pictured) said in making the announcement in Ottawa.

Details of what "improvements to energy efficiency or environmental performance" exactly means, but at least this approach is more intentional, transparent, and suggests investment in the industry that will provide long term benefits. This is contrast to the process in the US: backdoor, sneaky, no strings attached, and extremely dubious qualification for a payment for burning black liquor sludge in the United States.

Last week two senior US Senators proposed draft legislation to close the loophole in the United States.

Today's announcement also said the Government of Canada is providing $170 million over two years under Canada's Economic Action Plan to help companies develop new products and processes and capitalize on new market opportunities internationally. Could this be recycled products, agriculture residue papers, and totally chlorine free bleached papers?

Photo Credit: Chris Wattie, Reuters files

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