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Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change Minister Tim Halman at the legislature in Halifax, on Oct. 27, 2021.Keith Doucette/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia’s environment minister has sent a letter to his federal counterpart voicing concerns about a carbon tax while the cost of living continues to rise.

In the letter to federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, dated July 5, Tim Halman stresses that a new tax at this time will “have severe, negative ramifications without a clear view of any benefits.”

Halman, who released the letter on Thursday, says the federal carbon tax could see an additional 14.4 cents added to the cost of gasoline in Nova Scotia starting April 1, 2023.

He told reporters Friday that his government’s desire is to work with Ottawa to find an approach that works for his province, including collaborating to build up offshore wind development, to harness power from the Bay of Fundy and to develop green hydrogen options.

Halman’s department is working on a new environmental plan but has remained mum on whether it will opt for a carbon tax.

The province currently operates its own cap-and-trade program for large industrial emitters that has been in place since 2019.

Whatever is decided, the province will have to comply with new federal requirements beginning in 2023 that will increase the price of carbon in six months by $15 per tonne, and then again every year until it hits $170 per tonne in 2030.

“It’s my hope these conversations can continue with the federal government,” Halman said. “What we have articulated here is an opinion on the federal carbon tax given the most inflationary times since the 1970s, it is not an appropriate tool to be used at this time.”

He said the province has other options aside from the carbon tax including sticking with cap-and-trade or going with a hybrid of the two models.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill dismissed the government’s letter, saying it didn’t constitute action on the climate front.

“It says very clearly to me that they do not have a plan, we don’t even know if they have any options that they are looking at, and that they are flying by the seat of their pants on this issue,” said Churchill.

NDP Leader Claudia Chender said the move is “political posturing.”

“We’ve known about this (federal) deadline, we have the opportunity to have a made-in-Nova Scotia solution, we’ve been asking what the plan is and we’ve gotten no information,” Chender said.

In 2018, the federal government announced that all provinces would need to implement a carbon-pricing system by April 1, 2019 and those that didn't would fall under a federal carbon tax. But what is carbon pricing anyway?

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