Environmental groups call for federal government to reject weak Alberta methane regulations


OTTAWA – Alberta’s proposed methane pollution regulations for the oil and gas industry will result in a big payout to Canada’s largest industrial emitters while failing to shrink methane pollution to the required target set by the federal standard, say three of Canada’s most prominent environmental groups. Analysis shows that Alberta’s draft regulations will not even achieve half of the federal pollution standard. This would undermine Canada’s ability to achieve its 45 per cent methane emission reduction target as part of its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

In addition to successfully lobbying to weaken the methane regulations, the oil and gas industry will receive substantial subsidies – as much as $2.3 billion – from the province under the proposed Alberta plan. “Alberta must strengthen its approach, and ensure credible enforcement rather than allowing oil and gas companies to police themselves,” said Duncan Kenyon for the Pembina Institute. “Reducing methane emissions is one of the least expensive, most effective ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and drive innovation.”

Once Alberta’s methane regulations are finalized, the federal government will have to decide if they can supersede federal regulations. Legally, that can only happen if provincial regulations will result in the same or greater cumulative emission reductions as the federal rules. “Canada must stand strong, and tell Alberta its draft regulations don’t pass muster and let the foxes guard the henhouse,” said Dale Marshall from Environmental Defence. “If the federal government doesn’t hold the line, Canada’s plan would fail by letting Canada’s largest industrial polluters off the hook.”

The oil and gas industry has often used competitiveness concerns to seek weakened regulations. But U.S.-based operations have not received subsidies similar to those proposed by Alberta, and have successfully implemented more rigourous methane regulations over the past several years. Alberta’s proposed weak regulations will also reduce the estimated 1,500 fulltime jobs created that would be created by detecting and plugging methane leaks, and have negative impacts on human health in the province.

“Canada is actually playing catch up with the U.S. Rather than continuing to cave in to industry lobbying, we must ensure oil and gas companies in Canada understand their clear responsibility to reduce their carbon pollution,” said Ian Bruce from the David Suzuki Foundation. “There are many good reasons for Alberta and Canada to enact strong methane pollution regulations, including reducing wasted methane, creating jobs and improving air quality and the health of people and communities working at or near oil and gas facilities.”

The analysis of expected emission reductions from Alberta’s draft methane regulations compared with federal regulations can be accessed here.

– 30 –

The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization that collaborates with people in Canada, including government and businesses, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. It operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

The Pembina Institute is a national non-partisan think tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada’s clean energy transition. We employ multi-faceted and highly collaborative approaches to change. Producing credible, evidence-based research and analysis, we consult directly with organizations to design and implement clean energy solutions, and convene diverse sets of stakeholders to identify and move toward common solutions.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Dale Marshall, Environmental Defence: 613-868-9917

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604 356 8829, bGlauser@davidsuzuki.org

Kelly O’Connor, Pembina Institute, 416-220-8804, kellyo@pembina.org