Part of Alberta climate change plan expected to pass today

Bill gives the province the power to levy a tax on home and business heating bills and on gasoline at the pumps.

EDMONTON — The first part of Alberta’s landmark climate-change plan is expected to pass in the legislature today.

Politicians stayed up until almost dawn debating amendments to Bill 20.

The bill gives the province the power to levy a tax on home and business heating bills and on gasoline at the pumps.

Opposition members sought amendments to the bill to, among other things, deliver more clarity on where the revenues will be spent.

Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government used its majority to reject all proposed changes except for one.

The government accepted a Progressive Conservative amendment to issue receipts when items are confiscated under the pending act.

House Leader Brian Mason has said the bill was carefully crafted and scrutinized beforehand and did not require amendments.

Debate ended at 4:45 a.m., and the government did not have to invoke its power to cut off debate to keep the bill moving.

It is to be debated in third reading this morning and is expected to pass soon after.

Passage of the bill will also mark the end of the spring sitting of the legislature.

The carbon levy is one element of a multipronged climate-change strategy to reduce Alberta’s carbon footprint and give it more moral high ground when it pitches for greater resource infrastructure such as pipelines.

The government is also working to cap oilsands emissions and phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030.

The carbon levy is to take effect Jan. 1.

Gasoline at the pumps will rise by 4.49 cents a litre and diesel will go up 5.35 cents a litre.

The government estimates higher heating and gasoline costs will cost the average family an extra $443 annually next year. The figure is expected to rise in 2018. Opposition politicians say the government is lowballing that figure and the cost to families will be at least double that.

The government estimates that two-thirds of Albertans, those in middle- and low-income brackets, will receive a partial or full rebate.

The government says that ensures lower-income Albertans will not be penalized by the tax, but have an incentive to go green because they get to keep the rebate money regardless. Opponents have derided this plan as a thinly veiled wealth transfer.

Anyone earning more than $51,250 a year will not be eligible for a rebate.