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Sask. calls Ottawa's latest methane reduction plan 'more federal overreach'

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The Saskatchewan government is calling Ottawa’s latest draft regulations on methane leaks from oil and gas exploration projects another example of federal government overreach.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Gilbeault said Canada will eliminate routine venting and flaring of oil and gas infrastructure, which can cause large amounts of methane to leak into the atmosphere.

Guilbeault is currently in Dubai for the annual global climate talks, which are known this year as COP28.

According to Ottawa, the proposed regulations would result in an emissions reduction of 217 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2027 to 2040.

Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said constantly changing rules are continuing to lead to more investor uncertainty.

“These continually changing rules lead to investor uncertainty and allow countries with far less stable regulatory regimes to dominate the energy space,” Eyre said in a statement released on Monday.

According to the province, Ottawa’s regulations would mean a 75 per cent reduction in methane emissions from Saskatchewan’s oil and gas sector.

“This amounts to a production cap by default and is another instance of federal overreach and changing goalposts. It also violates the current equivalency agreement, which Saskatchewan signed with the federal government in 2020,” a news release from the province said.

Energy and Resources Minister Jim Reiter said the new regulations would cause reduced provincial revenues and a lower standard of living for people in Saskatchewan.

The province says that between 2019 and 2022, Saskatchewan reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 per cent, including methane from upstream oil facilities in a plan known as the Methane Action Plan that was already accepted by the federal government.

“This plan, which was previously accepted by the federal government in 2020, aims to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent from 2015 levels by 2025,” the release said.

Eyre said that Saskatchewan will be considering all options it has on the table following Monday’s announcement from Ottawa.

“We will consider all possible options, including a referral to the Saskatchewan First Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal,” Eyre said.

Eyre said Monday’s announced unilateral federal action on methane emissions specifically targets certain provincial industries and “infringes on our exclusive provincial jurisdiction over natural resources.”

-- With files from The Canadian Press.

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