BC sets new controls for oil and gas sector to cut emissions, fast-track clean energy projects

An artist rendering of the proposed Cedar LNG facility, a $3.2-billion Haisla Nation-led project partnering with the Pembina Pipeline Corporation. Photo credit: Cedar LNG

British Columbia has debuted its new Energy Action Framework as an attempt to ensure new oil and gas sector projects fit within the province’s climate commitments and drive clean economic growth.

Building on its CleanBC plan, the framework introduces four new rules to address the fact that the oil and gas industry accounts for 50% of industrial emissions and 20% of B.C.’s total emissions.

The most significant element of the Energy Action Framework will require all proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in the environmental assessment process to pass an emissions test and develop a plan to become net-zero by 2030.

Additionally, B.C. is introducing an emissions cap for the oil and gas sector under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. The province will set the emissions later this year, following wide-ranging consultations. For the sector, responses to the cap may require the adoption of best-in-class technology to reduce emissions as much as possible and offsetting remaining emissions through high-quality, verified carbon offset projects.

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“The framework will provide strong, enforceable emissions reduction requirements to make sure we hit our targets and provide predictability for industry,” announced George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a statement.

B.C. officials have yet to address whether the new emissions cap will be harmonized with the planned federal emissions cap, or share any details surrounding the cap’s enforcement.

B.C.’s new framework builds on the recent approval of Cedar LNG, a $3.2-billion Haisla Nation-led project partnering with the Pembina Pipeline Corporation. It will be the largest First Nations majority-owned infrastructure project in Canada and play a key role in the Haisla’s economic development over the next four decades. The project is set to produce about 3 million tonnes of LNG per year and be one of the lowest-emitting facilities of its kind in the world, provincial officials said.

Cedar LNG also received its first permit from the BC Energy Regulator for the approximately 8.5-kilometre pipeline that will connect the project into the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

By late spring, the Energy Action Framework calls for the creation of a clean energy and major projects office to fast-track investment in clean energy and technology and create good, sustainable jobs in the transition to a greener economy. The office is designed to guide clean energy projects focused on hydrogen, biofuels and renewable natural gas to navigate regulatory processes, access provincial programs, and reach final investment decisions.

Lastly, B.C.’s Energy Action Framework will launch a new BC Hydro task force to ensure the province is advancing clean electricity. The task force will accelerate the planning and procurement of new infrastructure needed to power B.C.’s economy with clean electricity instead of fossil fuels, while keeping rates affordable. It will also identify and advance Indigenous ownership opportunities in future electricity generation and transmission investments. The task force will include senior officials from the province and BC Hydro, as well as Indigenous representation and independent expertise.

“Our work on the climate crisis and our commitment to the next generation requires everyone, including the oil and gas sector, to do their part to reduce emissions. It also requires us to forge a new path forward with clean-energy projects that people and communities can count on. We can and must do both,” announced B.C. Premier David Eby, in a statement.

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