Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bad environmental choices, bad economics too

David Suzuki's column today on the government's choice to close the Experimental Lakes Area magnifies the tremendous cost to taxpayers:
The world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area in Southern Ontario has served as an outdoor laboratory for this purpose since 1968. By manipulating and studying conditions in 58 small lakes and their watersheds, scientists there have made many discoveries about the effects of human and natural activity on freshwater ecosystems and fish. Over the past 45 years they've taught us about the impacts of acid rain, mercury pollution, nanoparticles, nitrogen overload, climate change, fish farming and many other issues.
That's about to end. The federal government announced it will close the unique facility in 2013. It's an odd decision, especially considering that it costs just $2-million a year to operate -- one-tenth the cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's security detail and about the same amount the government spent during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto to build a tourism pavilion with a fake lake. To make matters worse, it will cost taxpayers $50 million to shut the ELA down!
Maybe I haven't been following this one closely enough but that $50 million cost to shut down this widely valued research space deserves some attention.

If they're intent on closing it, why they would not invest some time to work out a deal to hand it over to someone or some institution in order to stave off such a wasted sunk cost is baffling.

Competent economic managers? In their own minds and in the carefully constructed myth but here's yet another example that shows it's not the case in practice.