Federal government releases details of delayed methane reduction plan

Federal government announces plan to dramatically reduce methane emissions
WATCH ABOVE: Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Thursday that the government plans to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020. As David Boushy reports, an energy industry association in Alberta takes no issue with the draft regulations, but wants more flexibility to achieve them.

Companies in the energy sector would be required to regularly check equipment for leaks, make repairs, monitor emission levels and report them to Ottawa under the federal government’s proposal to reduce methane emissions.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna released details of the plan, the implementation of which was delayed after President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting U.S. plans to bring down methane emissions along with Canada.

The rules would be phased in between 2020 and 2023 and are aimed at cutting emissions of methane by about 20 megatonnes per year — which the government says it equivalent to removing about five million cars from the road.

READ MORE: U.S. rejection of methane limit spooks Canadian oilpatch

The government estimates the regulations would cost industry $3.3 billion from 2018 to 2035, but says the costs of avoiding action on climate change would be more than four times that.

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McKenna says the measures would be made final next year.

Methane is considered far more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere and is the main component of natural gas.

READ MORE: Canada, U.S. agree to cut methane emissions as Trudeau set to meet Obama

“Right now, over $1.5 billion worth of natural gas is wasted every year through leaks,” McKenna said in a statement Thursday.

“That affects the health of Canadians and contributes to climate change. By better detecting and patching leaks, companies will be able to save and sell that natural gas.”

She said provinces and territories will have the option to develop their own regulations if they achieve the same results.