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Backgrounder: Environment, Energy and Forestry

The Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry has three distinct, but closely related, areas of responsibility. The department delivers programs and services to promote and protect the environment. It promotes sustainable forest management. Finally, it develops and implements energy policies and programs including renewable energy initiatives.

Program Highlights 2004-2005
The new Renewable Energy Act requires electrical utilities to access at least 15 per cent of their electrical energy from renewable sources by 2010 and have the ability to acquire 100 per cent of their power with renewables by 2015.

The Public Forest Council carried out comprehensive consultations on what Islanders want our forests to look like and what they believe Government's role should be in public and private forest lands. They will report to the Minister this spring.

Drinking Water and Wastewater System Operating Regulations were introduced this year to establish monitoring and public reporting requirements for central water and wastewater systems; mandatory certification for operators of drinking water and wastewater systems; and wellfield protection plans to protect municipal water supply sources.

The hours for dropping off drinking water samples at Access PEI sites were extended. Drinking water technicians were located in regional offices to better serve the public.

A Climate Change Coordinator was hired in 2004 and a Special Legislative Assembly Committee on Climate Change carried out extensive consultations. The committee will report during this session with recommendations on a Climate Change Strategy for Prince Edward Island.

Budget 2005 Highlights
The budget for the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry for the fiscal year 2005- 2006 is $12,103,600.

Investments
A Provincial Sales Tax exemption on small-scale renewable energy equipment and technology will encourage people to take advantage of technology to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Effective immediately, the purchase of small-scale renewable energy equipment and technology is exempt from provincial sales tax. The tax exemption will apply to such technologies as infrastructure for wind energy systems less than 100 kilowatts; ground-source heat pumps; solar panels for domestic hot water heating systems and electricity production; and biogas systems under 100 kilowatts to capture methane from farm operations to produce energy.

Approximately $55,000 in additional funding will be available through the Wildlife Conservation Fund as a result of an increase in the licence fee.

Funding available under the Watershed Management Fund will remain stable at $135,000. This funding is available to community-based watershed organizations for projects ranging from watershed management to wildlife habitat enhancement.

Funding support available to private forest owners under the Forest Renewal Program will remain stable at $870,000, which is in line with actual expenditures in 2004-2005. More than 30 million seedlings have been established through this program.

$100,000 funding is available under the Forest Enhancement Program to assist landowners in completing forest management plans and carrying out recommended silvicultural work.

The department will receive $97,200 through the National Water Program for a stream mapping project to support plans to protect streams and watercourses and provide new information on the water supply.

Further improvements will be made to the Air Quality Monitoring Network with the construction of a new building at the Wellington Station to make room for new equipment.

Cost savings
Total savings of $406,100 will be realized in fiscal year 2005-2006.

The private sector will be offered new opportunities to work in the Provincial Forest Program through public tenders. The department will continue to set the standards for forest management on public lands, and deliver services not available from the private sector.

The Greening Spaces Program, which provides seedlings and technical advice to schools and communities is reduced by $66,000. This brings the 2005-2006 budget of $176,900 in line with actual expenditures in 2004-2005. This budget reduction will not impact service levels.

The Forest Improvement Association grant of $25,000 has been eliminated. PEI's $40 million forest industry has reached a level of maturity where it is able to support its own association.

The trout angling licence exemption for farmers and commercial fishers has been eliminated.

Contact:
Sandra Lambe,
Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry
902 368 5286

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