Freezing carbon tax, delaying new climate regulations during coronavirus crisis, demands oil lobby

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Canada’s oil and gas producers have called on the federal government to freeze the carbon tax and delay new climate change regulations as the industry weather the COVID-19 storm.

In a letter to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, sent on March 27, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers CEO Tim McMillan said Canada’s energy sector is facing a financial attack unprecedented because of the global collapse in oil prices.

The combination of falling demand and a production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has brought prices down all over the world. In western Canada, heavy crude prices fell again below $ 5 a barrel this week, less than a tenth of what they traded a year ago.

The crisis led to a lobbying effort on the ground, with CAPP recording at least 29 meetings with federal officials and cabinet ministers between March 12 and March 29.

It is a crude attempt to take advantage of a global health crisis.-Dale Marshall, Environmental Defense

Environmental critics, however, see the list of demands as an attempt by industry to use the COVID-19 crisis as a cover to curb health and safety policies and push back regulations that will help the environment .

“This is a crude attempt to take advantage of a global health crisis,” said Dale Marshall, national climate program manager at Environmental Defense.

He said that many of the requests were related to things that CAPP has repeatedly and unsuccessfully lobbied to date, including the price of carbon, clean fuel standards and restrictions on methane emissions from oil production.

Government asked for “tool reduction approach”

In an interview with The Canadian Press, McMillan said the root of the demand comes from the industry’s need to maintain operations that are safe and essential because it follows health guidelines. This includes limiting employees on construction sites and maintaining physical distance for those who need to be there.

The industry also wants to ensure that no new laws or regulations are implemented until appropriate consultations can be carried out, and that the industry has time to recover from this shock of price.

McMillan told O’Regan that the fossil fuel sector wants to both survive the crisis and participate in Canada’s economic recovery once it is resolved.

“We encourage them to take a top-down approach until the crisis is resolved,” he said on Thursday.

CAPP requests include delays in reporting greenhouse gas emission requirements, postponement of 2020 requirements for a number of reports on compliance with environmental recommendations and security, and extending reporting deadlines for things like air and water pollution.

The industry also wants the promised changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to be postponed because the necessary consultations cannot take place when public gatherings and travel are not allowed.

The law, which regulates toxic substances, has been under study since 2016 and the House of Commons environment committee recommended more than 80 changes to it in 2017. The Liberal government has delayed implementation one of them until the end of the 2019 elections.

Finally, CAPP wants the Liberal government to delay important policies and regulations to allow the industry to recover from the economic shock.

This includes freezing the price of carbon at $ 30 per tonne for the foreseeable future, postponing plans to implement a clean fuel standard from 2022 to 2025, and doing nothing more to reduce emissions. greenhouse gases, in particular by introducing its promised legislation to set five – year legally binding targets on the path to zero net emissions by 2050.

Marshall said industry says it’s unsafe to send people to perform monitoring and testing to meet environmental standards, but continues to have hundreds of people on the oil sands . There was an epidemic of COVID-19 at one of these sites this week.

Marshall said the industry says it’s health and safety, but that much of what it wants to delay or suspend puts human health at risk because of more pollution from air or water.

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