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Great title for my letter-to-the-editor

I missed this when it was published on 11/13, but my letter in response to Les Leyne’s Times-Colonist column on the carbon tax (see my blog entry about it, Cracking cement: Industry and municipalities could work together) did make it into the paper.

The editor came up with a witty title for it: Cast a solution for cement pollution, and it was minimally edited (for brevity, I guess), so that’s nice.

Why am I blogging about it (again)? Because it’s important to keep solutions like this in the public realm, in front of people. Otherwise, we all climb back into our cozy (not!) boxes and carry on as usual.

Here’s the letter, as published:

Cast a solution for cement pollution
Times Colonist

Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Re: “Cement industry fears carbon tax squeeze,” column, Nov. 8.

Kudos to the B.C. Liberals for putting industry under pressure — not to destroy it, but to force it to innovate. It really is time for more creative thinking when it comes to environmental issues. Municipalities and industries need to step up, perhaps to collaborate.

Finding ways to sequester the carbon dioxide produced by cement production continues to be a contested holy grail for the industry. The “squeeze” of a carbon tax might actually make sequestration a more realistic goal.

A Nova Scotia company, Carbon Sense Solutions, recently claimed it has a process that sequesters all emissions from cement production by storing them in precast concrete products.

Our cement factories typically don’t also produce precast concrete products, but consider a scenario where there is more creative co-operation between industry and municipalities. In such a world it might make sense to add facilities that produce precast concrete products, if municipalities (which also need to meet carbon-neutral goals) found ways to use precast concrete (vs. concrete mix) for public works (roads, sidewalks, etc.) projects.

There will have to be a lot more innovative thinking, literally to disrupt traditional supply-chain setups. If the carbon tax “squeezes” industries and municipalities to embrace that disruption creatively and constructively, it’ll be a win-win for us all.

For more on the still-contested methods of carbon sequestering in cement making, see

Yule Heibel


I’m also happy to know (via an email I got from Les Leyne in response to this letter) that he’s on the case, here and in other areas concerning the environment. Good to know!

1 Comment

  1. I’m glad you wrote about this and glad to see the TC highlighting it. If Victoria (and the other levels of government) are truly committed to reducing our carbon footprint they will embrace ideas like these.

    I said this during the campaign: if we really want to effect change we must do more than merely turn off unused lights at City Hall and replace their pick-ups with Smart Cars.

    Comment by Robert Randall — November 29, 2008 #

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