Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, left, at COP28. He was handed an “emissions cap.” That’s definitely what the government of Saskatchewan thinks he handed this province. Canadian Press

On Dec. 4, the federal government released draft regulations that would force a 75 per cent reduction in methane emissions on Saskatchewan’s oil and gas sector. The Government of Saskatchewan responded by saying in a press release, “This amounts to a production cap by default and is another instance of federal overreach and changing goal posts. It also violates the current equivalency agreement, which Saskatchewan signed with the federal government in 2020.”

The announcement came from federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault at COP28 in Dubai. Premier Scott Moe is also in Dubai, at the same event, along with over 50 Saskatchewan-based parties, to ensure Saskatchewan’s voice is heard. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is also present.

Between 2019 and 2022, the Government of Saskatchewan noted this province achieved a more than 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases, including methane, from upstream oil facilities under its Methane Action Plan (MAP). 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.

“These continually changing rules lead to investor uncertainty and allow countries with far less stable regulatory regimes to dominate the energy space,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said.  “This latest unilateral federal action on methane targets specific provincial industries and infringes on our exclusive provincial jurisdiction over natural resources. In response, we will consider all possible options, including a referral to the Saskatchewan First Economic Impact Assessment Tribunal.”

For years, Eyre has been pointing out how the federal government keeps “changing the goalposts,” both in her current portfolio, and in her previous one as Minister of Energy and Resources for four years.

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“This change will result in lower production, reduced provincial revenues, and a lower standard of living for all people in Saskatchewan,” Energy and Resources Minister Jim Reiter said. “This is another example of federal overreach into areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.”

This latest federal proposal comes amid growing momentum in favour of provincial rights, including the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the federal Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69) and the Federal Court’s recent decision on plastics, the provincial government said, pointing out, “In addition, in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2021 SCC 11 case, at paragraph 175, Chief Justice Wagner clearly stated that Parliament does not have the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions generally or emissions from specific sectors.”

“As confirmed in The Saskatchewan First Act, which came into force on September 15, 2023, Saskatchewan has exclusive legislative jurisdiction, under Section 92A of the Constitution Act, 1867, over the exploration of non-renewable natural resources, which includes the exclusive authority to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector.”

In a paper published in 2018, Dr. Joule Bergerson of the University of Calgary reported that if other oil and gas producing nations regulated their energy sectors like Saskatchewan, particularly around methane, global, energy-produced greenhouse gas emissions would fall by 25 per cent, the release said. This quote has been referenced frequently by Premier Scott Moe, Minister Eyre and Reiter ever since it was first published.

 

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