B.C. debates carbon capture legislation

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman says changes needed to regulation of CO2 capture and storage deep underground

As it prepares to take part in the latest United Nations conference on climate change in December, the B.C. government is changing legislation to permit development of carbon dioxide capture and storage from its northeast B.C. natural gas deposits.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman said the changes will give the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission authority to regulate projects that strip carbon dioxide from raw gas and inject it back into salt water formations deep underground.

“Although we’ve had a look at it over the years and have actually had projects that looked like they might go ahead at some point in time, we find that we don’t have the overall regulatory framework to actually allow and be successful with CCS,” Coleman told the legislature as he introduced the amendments.

One of the changes protects Oil and Gas Commission employees from being named in lawsuits related to their decisions.

In 2008, the B.C. government put in $3.4 million towards a $12 million feasibility study at Spectra Energy’s gas processing facilities at Fort Nelson, one of the largest gas plants in North America. The federal government and the U.S. Department of Energy also helped fund the study.

Initial results showed saline aquifers more than two kilometres deep could act as permanent storage for CO2, but the project has not yet proceeded to construction, and extracted CO2 is still being vented to the atmosphere.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said CCS is a promising technology, but the gas industry in B.C. is responsible for 15 per cent of the province’s greenhouse gas emissions, and venting of CO2 from plants and wells accounts for a quarter of that.

Huntington said the proposed development of liquefied natural gas exports means more CO2 emissions from gas extraction as well as LNG processing.

Premier Christy Clark and Environment Minister Mary Polak are scheduled to join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers at the latest climate change summit in Paris in early December.

In his election campaign, Trudeau said he wanted Canada to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but that the provinces should take the lead in determining how to regulate before a new national plan is developed.

 

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