The Trudeau government and the oil patch are in agreement: Canada needs to delay plans to reduce the heat-trapping pollution that causes climate change because those actions will cost too much.

It’s a stunning retreat from key promises and statements made by the government since its election in 2015. And it has left some environmentalists wondering whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is following the Trump administration’s race to the bottom on climate policy.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna confirmed the news on Thursday during a conference call with reporters. She said that Canada would introduce plans that would delay tackling emissions of methane — a powerful heat-trapping gas — from the oil patch by two years, the CBC reported.

The Trudeau government and the Obama administration had promised last spring to cut methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

The oil and gas industry's main lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), pushed back a few months later calling for delays because they said moving too fast would be too costly.

“We had responded with what we thought would be an alternative approach to meeting that target," said Vicki Ballance, CAPP’s director of climate and innovation, in an interview. “Having to do large retrofit schedules, and new installations, and all of those things are going to have costs for industry."

McKenna said late on Friday that the government remained committed to its climate change goals.

"We are absolutely committed to delivering the 40-45 per cent reductions from methane leaks by 2025 — in the most smart cost effective way," the minister wrote on Twitter.

And in an emailed response to questions from National Observer, McKenna's spokeswoman Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers said the proposed delay to the start date "will allow industry more time to make changes to operations, and to budget the capital needed."

'This is the first real test' of Canada's climate strategy, says Greenpeace

The government says if the proposed regulations are implemented, its end-date target of 2025 would still be in place. It said it was simply carrying out its duty to listen to stakeholders.

But environmentalists see the proposed move as part of a bigger picture, with U.S. President Donald Trump moving to unwind federal methane rules and musing about pulling out of the Paris climate change agreements.

“This is the first real test of the federal pan-Canadian climate framework,” said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada.

“If they cave on methane regulations, then it’s a signal to everyone else that they can probably get them to back down on other measures as well.”

Stewart said he was skeptical about the government's promise to hold to the 2025 end-date, since the regulations wouldn’t kick in until after the next federal election set for 2019.

“You’re promising that the next government will do something about that, which is not something that any government can really promise,” he said.

CAPP says doing retrofits and new installations needed to implement methane emissions cuts will be costly for the industry. Photo of oilsands facility in Fort McMurray by Kris Krug

Move 'does not reflect well on Trudeau' internationally says D.C.-based environmental group

Anthony Swift, director of the Canada Project at the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said the proposed move "does not reflect well on Trudeau as a climate leader."

“There’s little question that if we see more actions by the Trudeau administration to lower the Canadian bar to the level that President Trump has set, it’s going to be a big blow to Trudeau’s reputation on climate,” said Swift.

Even before the announcement of the new delays, the government was already projecting it wouldn't meet its climate change goal of reducing annual emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The government also released a new report this month, National Post reported, projecting that Canada won’t meet its climate targets unless new measures are introduced.

“Given that the policy that’s been proposed is not yet enough to get us across the finish line, taking several steps back by watering down methane regulations, and delaying them, only makes crossing the finish line that much harder,” said Swift.

CAPP says government hosted 'pre-consultation session'

The story of the delays and industry lobbying stretches back to last March.

The rollout plan, according to a senior government official’s presentation a few weeks after the announcement last year, would have involved draft regulations by this spring, and then implementation starting early in 2018, with everything in place by 2020.

But in a September assessment of the government’s draft model posted in an article by Stewart in Policy Options, CAPP said industry investment was down, and that the industry was competing with heightened U.S. production.

It was “not a good time to impose additional costs on industry,” the assessment noted. CAPP also said the switch imposed an “administrative burden.”

The government hosted what it described as a “pre-consultation session” with the industry group in September, said Ballance.

The oil patch lobbyists then proposed that the government delay “regulatory implementation timing past 2020.”

McKenna's spokeswoman Des Rosiers said that to “help inform” the drafting of the proposed regulations, Environment and Climate Change Canada “held very extensive consultations” with stakeholders, including "provinces, territories, industry, [environmental non-governmental organizations] and associations representing Indigenous peoples."

“As a result of these consultations, a number of important changes were made to Canada’s proposed methane regulations...a key change is that Canada agreed to shift the implementation start,” wrote Des Rosiers.

“The changes in start date are an example of government listening to stakeholders."

A 'significant burden' to reduce methane emissions?

Environmental groups and the oil industry disagree about the feasibility of an early start date for new pollution rules.

Ballance said the costs to industry to implement would be a “significant burden” in the “billions” of dollars, although she couldn’t give a more specific cost breakdown.

Swift argued that “methane regulations are one area where major reductions can occur with relatively little cost to the industry."

Even if Trump rolls back U.S. federal methane emissions, that wouldn't affect limits on methane from oil and gas facilities in California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Utah, said Stewart, so competitiveness shouldn't be as high of a factor, he argued.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:10 p.m. ET on Friday with a new comment from Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna.

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As long as the oil industry has back pockets, it will keep government in them.

This the way. Lobby, lobby, lobby.


All industry interests, which do not include protecting the environment or public health.

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really
something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.

I am looking forward for your next post, I'll try to
get the hang of it!


It is complicated and broad, much broader than what I posted. I'll take a moment to cut through the convolution, so you can appreciate it, as I have experienced and researched.

Industry has numerous routes of lobbying and influence, reaching into every corner of our lives, from our education system, community engagement, to every level of government.

Registered lobbying is the easiest to see on paper. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is the largest and most active lobby organization in Canada. Almost immediately, perhaps preceding any new environmental policies, CAPP is there to squash it. The reasons tend to repeat infinitely; too costly for industry and any increased environmental measures will hamper competitiveness. In other words, greed. Why our governments fail to protect the public interest, instead, caving to corporate manipulation, amounts to the same answer, greed, perhaps a healthy dose of corruption to boot.

Here is a link to the most recent registration by Tim McMillan of CAPP, from the Office of the Commissioner. Please take a look, not only at how many issues they are lobbying, but also how many departments they contact. Staggering.

The other slew of acronyms I posted above, are the myriad of additional industry funded or friendly organizations, for pipelines, upstream services, etc, all of which lobby or exert influence on municipal, provincial and federal governments. There are over 200 such organizations across Canada, all using industry funding for the most part.

Additionally, most major oil and gas company executives and VP's serve as registered lobbyists, such as Russ Girling with TransCanada.

This is just the tip of the iceberg though, the lobbying and corporate pressures that are visible above the surface. What lies beneath?

At the community level in Alberta, we have this slimy system of lobbying, referred to as "synergy”. Synergy Alberta is partnered with, and partially fiscally supported by CAPP and the AER. In the past, the Government of Alberta also contributed, but recently have pulled funding. The rest of money for operations of these synergy groups, comes from invoicing industry.

Here is a list of Synergy Alberta groups:
Alberta Energy Corridor, BalCAP, Battle Lake Synergy, Battle Action Committee, Regional air-sheds such as PAMZ and the Peace, Calumet Synergy, CMAG, Clearwater synergy, Cochrane Pipeline Operators Assc, Crossfield District Synergy, FAAMA, Fox Creek Synergy, Genessee Synergy, LICA, Life in the Heartland, FAO, PAG, Peace Regional Synergy, Pembina Synergy, Rimbey Synergy, SPOG, VAPPA, WASP, Waterton Advisory, West Central Stakeholders, Wetaskiwin Synergy and Yellowhead Synergy.

I have participated in many meetings and interactions with SPOG and CMAG and they way they operate is disturbing, to say the least.
For instance, with CMAG, industry and AER reps, community members, perhaps a municipal councillor will generally meet at the local Smitty's for breakfast, hosted by an “impartial facilitator” (who happens to be paid by industry and gets her breakfast paid for nearly every time by TransCanada, hardly impartial). Since witnessing several misleading and fabricated statements regarding local operations, such as Julia Fulford with the AER, stating that the well sites by our home have “no emissions”, I took to recording the meetings. Present after all, are elected officials and government employees. It outraged the group, and they kicked me out, while passing a Terms of Reference that states that no recording, visual or audio, can be taken at meetings and that meeting minutes can not be used in legal proceedings. All this information is accessible on the CMAG website in the TOR and meeting minutes.

The evolution of Synergy groups, generally follows the same path. It begins with local community concerns regarding industry activity or a serious incident. The Pembina Institute would be the most famous example of this, borne of the Lodgepole Pine sour gas blowout. CMAG came about because of CBM activity. The origins of these groups are respectable enough, however, the progression from community led, to industry controlled and colluded, is what is so disgraceful, and it happens every time.

Just look at what Pembina has become, a national eNGO, hosting galas in Toronto, with industry money. They don’t assist impacted residents at all, neither does any synergy group. In reality, this system operates more on the basis of discrediting harmed landowners and endorsing industry regardless of impacts. Industry moves in on these groups and uses money and power to change the dynamic and messaging, until they are nothing more than a subset of stakeholder relations departments pushing corporate interests. Controlled opposition at it's finest. Community level lobbying.

Aside from industry infiltrating communities via synergy and four stacks with a side of sausage, industry also funds the air-shed groups in Alberta.
When we had a PAMZ air quality trailer on our land, the company shut in all their operations near our home, for the duration of testing. PAMZ, the AER and the company, then used this manipulated data set, that had no resemblance to air quality during full production, as a means to discredit our concerns over sour gas emissions. When industry pays for the operations of air-sheds doing community testing, they have ways to ensure they are not implicated in any non-compliances. Air quality lobbying.

More industry money is directed at influencing education. Major oil and gas operators are currently partners in the Alberta K-12 curriculum. They also sponsor industry propaganda at the Telus Science Centre, Glenbow Museum and promotion at Heritage Park. Industry funds numerous organizations that come to schools with corporate messaging guised as environmental initiatives, delivered by the likes of Earth Rangers and Inside Education.

Of course, industry has huge monetary influence in our post secondary institutions. The U of C is infamous for their oil and gas based agenda, led by the Haskayne School of Business and the School of Public Policy. Academic lobbying.

In fact, in Alberta, you will be hard pressed to find any eNGO that does not have industry money behind them. The Alberta Ecotrust is a prime example. Environmental lobbying.

Then you have your “charities” which are pro-industry, the most renowned is the Fraser Institute. Charitable lobbying.

Then you have industry in the communities, donating money to local schools, bonspiels, beer gardens and the other events and projects, yet, implementing proper emission reductions for priority pollutants, inspecting and maintaining pipelines and facilities or implementing and installing proper air and water quality monitoring to protect the public, is all too costly and lobbied against. Buy-off lobbying.

Finally, you have all the money industry spends on private meetings, the ones not on anyone’s books. Like how TransCanada met privately with members of AAMDC, which resulted in their resolution to endorse Energy East. Those AAMDC members had no knowledge of the tolls ($4.6 billion, at minimum) to Albertan’s, and had not read the take-or-pay contract for the project, nor seen an economic benefit analysis for our province. Must have been some meeting. Private lobbying.

These are all forms of how the industry petitions for and acquires support from the community, up to the federal level. Lobby, lobby, lobby.

If all this funding from synergy, lobby and enticement were re-directed, industry would easily have the financial capacity for emissions reductions, proper monitoring and enforcement, meant to protect public health and environmental sustainability.

What serves a community better, money put towards beer gardens, golf tournaments and awards shows (PTAC, EPAC, CAPP) or reducing hazardous pollutants and ensuring high pressure sour gas lines are properly maintained and inspected? Priorities are extremely out of place here.

There are billions being wasted on lobbying, propaganda, partisan alignments and Pete Club perks, and hearing industry complain about costs related to protecting public health is revolting. The fact that the federal government accepts this bullsh*t as means to delay policies in which they made a commitment, is worse.

Did you follow all that? ;)

All the best, Diana

Your detailed posts are appreciated.
The industry spends hundreds of thousands, even millions, rigging studies and results in their favour, rather than pay landowners their rightful compensation in damages caused by the industry. Government and regulators back them. Landowner property rights are fiction.

Your detailed posts are appreciated.
The industry spends hundreds of thousands, even millions, rigging studies and results in their favour, rather than pay landowners their rightful compensation in damages caused by the industry. Government and regulators back them. Landowner property rights are fiction.

Thanks, and I like your short and sage comments:)

Property rights do not exist. Right of Entry in Alberta legislates you can not refuse exploration and production for resources on your land. Expropriation is the means for federal projects.

Agreed, industry spends millions on agreeable scientists, academics, biologists, engineers, geos, even doctors. APEGA is a sullied example of a captured professional organization, which is mandated to hold the health and wellness of the public and environment paramount, but never do.

Far from rightful compensation, industry and regulators still insist there are no harms incurred to public health. You can't get a single doctor in this province to discuss the effects of industrial emissions on health. The Chair of the Maternal and Child Health program at the Alberta's Children Hospital, is from Husky Energy.
The AER has no public health mandate. Certainly by intention, there has not been one comprehensive epidemiological study done in Canada to date, on the public health impacts of the oil and gas industry. The medical community has failed the public in this regard.
Rightful compensation will also remain fiction, until damages are duly acknowledged, and not paid to be obfuscated.

The first line of the article says it all: "The Trudeau government and the oil patch are in agreement". It's dummy and ventriloquist, their agenda and machinations are inseparable. McKenna has repeadedly proven she will do nothing beyond paying lip service to protecting the environment or endangered species (eg, "protected" wetlands and the one-of-a-kind tufa wetland as well as vital habitat for endangered/threatened species Site C would destroy), her real job is to protect Industry interests from our remaining environmental laws. The Liberal government is owned and operated by corporate cronies and the Old Boys Club. The corruption in every Liberal government is rampant and when donations from unions and corporations are banned, they just break laws. GHG emissions are skyrocketing and broken promises won't save the planet.

Diana says it all. We will never see anything change until Albertans are willing to stand up and demand protection for our environment and our present and future citizens. There is no time for delays - we have already delayed too long.

Trudeau has already shown his true intentions with the pipeline approvals. This just confirms our worst fears. The idea of Canada as a "climate leader" is a sad joke. Trump has given the Liberals a convenient excuse to water down their commitments, which was probably the intention all along. "We won't be fooled again."

"not a good time to impose additional costs on industry," Why oh why is the bottom line of fossil fuel corporations the major and often only consideration in deciding actions required for the planet. It certainly is not a good time to curtail efforts to reduce fossil fuel extraction and subsequent emissions. Check the weather the last few years if you think you have play-time left in this agenda.

I would like to see the government's plan to reach their promised climate goal, in a week by week scenario. I realize such plans are amazingly complex, and that is one of the things that worries me. From a party who has renegaded on significant and critical election campaign promises e.g. 2015 last election of first past the post and commitment to reducing climate change; I have little confidence in them keeping any aspect of their word in Paris or to Canadians in the 2015 election campaign. Especially when it requires understanding a complex subject, knowing who to involve in developing plans and then applying the plan. So far, fear of doing the wrong thing seems to have directed most of this party's leadership inaction and the other fear of losing "pet" status with major corporations has directed their actions to safeguard corporate requirements.

A specific action plan would illustrate to the government that the time for caving into fossil fuel conglomerates and associations is past. The time for dilly-dallying around is past. They said they would lead with transparency and attention to citizen requests.
There is no flex time left in the schedule. It is now time to develop morale leadership for the planet and for Canadian citizens. The political leadership does know what we want after the plethora of petitions, marches, emails, postcards, letters, phone calls, town hall meetings etc. We have been contacting the "leadership" in Canada and they are not listening. Time to take the ear plugs out, take off the political spin and get moving in the directions Canadians desire.