B.C. regulations let industry off the hook for inspection, reporting of methane emissions

VANCOUVER — Environmental organizations are challenging the strength of B.C.’s methane regulations following a Government of Canada announcement Saturday that they meet federal equivalency requirements.

“By giving B.C.’s weaker regulations the green light, the federal government will fail to meet its own pollution reduction targets set out in the Pan-Canadian Framework on climate change,” David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said. “Cutting methane pollution is one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective things we can do to tackle climate change.”

Reducing methane pollution relies on requiring industry to do frequent methane leak detection and repair throughout their operations. Yet B.C. proposes to exempt 93 per cent of oil and gas sites from regular instrument-based inspections, such as using infrared cameras to detect pollution invisible to the human eye. This month an independent science panel commissioned by the B.C. government found that the province’s proposed leak detection and repair requirements do not meet the federal methane regulations’ level of stringency.

“Unlike federal rules, B.C.’s methane regulations don’t require frequent leak detection and repair for most oil and gas sites,” Shareen Yawanarajah, Environmental Defense Fund’s international policy manager, energy program said.  “As leak detection and repair is the only way to find and fix unpredictable and harmful ‘super-emitting’ methane leaks, B.C.’s regulations are substandard to best practices and federal regulations.”

The Government of Canada passed national regulations in 2018 to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025. Provinces can adopt the federal regulations or introduce their own, as long as they are equivalent. The equivalency process will also be used to implement other critical elements of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

“This a watershed moment for the federal government on its climate action plan: choose to uphold strong climate solutions or water them down. If the federal government stays firm on its pollution-cutting measures, it will send a signal to provinces that they have to do their part to fight climate change, whether it’s for methane regulations, coal regulations or other climate policies,” Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence said.

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Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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.

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 multifaceted 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.

The Clean Air Task Force is a non-profit environmental organization with offices across the U.S. and in China. It works to help safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership and partnership with the private sector.

Environmental Defense Fund, an international non-profit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. It links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships.

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

Theresa Beer, David Suzuki Foundation: 778-874-3396, tbeer@davidsuzuki.org

Jonathan Banks, Clean Air Task Force: 207-607-0606, jbanks@catf.us

Barbara Hayes, Environmental Defence: 613.255.5724, bhayes@environmentaldefence.ca

Faye Roberts, For Environmental Defense Fund: 647-924-4454, faye.roberts@scoutpublicaffairs.com