HALIFAX--The proposed Atlantica export corridor would have serious detrimental effects on Atlantic Canada, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
Atlantica: Myths and Reality examines plans for a cross-border region spanning Atlantic Canada and northern New England promoted by the Atlantic Chambers of Commerce and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS).
The challenge in assessing the Atlantica agenda, according to the study’s author, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair, is separating myth from reality. The myth is that Atlantica is about increasing trade between natural historical trading partners. The reality, Sinclair points out, is that “Atlantica is not about increasing trade within the region. It is about convincing Atlantic Canadians that the road to prosperity lies in becoming a conduit for Asian goods headed to the American ‘heartland’ and in accelerating energy exports to the U.S.”
The centrepiece of the Atlantica proposal is turning the port of Halifax into the gateway for a high-volume roadway along which “truck trains” would haul Asian goods to the U.S. Mid-west. But, Sinclair argues, “This strategy ignores current realities such as increasing capacity in west coast ports, plans to expand the Panama Canal by 2015, and heightened security at the U.S. border.”
The study finds that the proposed transportation corridor would bring few economic benefits to the rest of the Atlantic region. Increased highway spending would absorb public funds that could otherwise be used for more diversified infrastructure investments, while increased heavy-truck traffic would make the region’s roads less safe and harm the environment.
The Atlantica energy corridor policy is about “exporting the region’s oil and gas as rapidly as possible on terms that favour the energy industry,” the study states. According to Sinclair, “the Atlantica agenda pays little attention to Atlantic Canada’s future energy security, to the negative environmental effects of accelerated fossil fuel exploitation, or to whether the Canadian public is getting a fair share of revenues from these publicly-owned, non-renewable resources.”
“The common thread in the Atlantica agenda is a fierce commitment to deregulation, whether by relaxing road safety rules to allow truck trains or by advocating a hands-off approach to the energy sector,” the study concludes. As further evidence, co-author John Jacobs cites the attack by key Atlantica supporters on minimum wage legislation, public services, and unions.
The study explores alternative policies to Atlantica, such as emulating Norway’s successful energy policies that garner an 85% share of energy revenues for its citizens and enhancing cross-border cooperation between Atlantic Canada and New England to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Atlantica: Myths and Reality is available on the CCPA web site at www.policyalternatives.ca.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact John Jacobs at 902-477-1252 or Kerri-Anne Finn at 613-563-1341 x306.