The politics of Saskatchewan’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) experiment
- 7 Jul 2016
- The StarPhoenix
- WILL CHABUN
Minister coy about federal position on ‘exciting’ carbon capture project
No hint that Sask.’s project will be accepted as equivalent to carbon tax
I sure was impressed by the technology and the depth of knowledge and the excitement of the scientists.
To the long list of politicians, executives and engineers who’ve made the pilgrimage to Saskatchewan’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) experiment add one more: federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
And though the Winnipeg MP called it ” very exciting” and repeatedly mentioned the “passion” of those working on it, he was coy on whether it would be accepted — as Premier Brad Wall has sought — as Saskatchewan’s equivalent to a carbon tax.
“We’re a federation, we respect the provinces and the right of the provinces to come up with their own carbon regimes — and they’re doing that,” he said, adding the prime minister and premiers will meet this autumn to find common ground.
But Carr said, “every province is doing what it can to meet its own climate goals, investing — with a lot of others, including the Government of Canada — in those technologies that will take us to where we want to be.”
And that, he added, “is done many different ways.”
At the recent “Three Amigos” summit, leaders singled out CCS “as one of the roads to a low-carbon economy — and the leader in Canada and, really, the world is right here in Saskatchewan.”
Carr said CCS, which traces its roots back to the creation of the Petroleum Technology and Research Centre in Regina’s Innovation Place research park, is “where chemistry and technology meet public policy.”
“I’m better at public policy than I am at chemistry, but I sure was impressed by the technology and the depth of knowledge and the excitement of the scientists.”
Changing his focus, he said it’s clear we’re at “a very low moment” of the commodity cycle that’s hurt individuals and families, but added that even as we change to a new energy economy, there will be “a continuing reliance on traditional fossil fuels.”
He said the Energy East pipeline proposal, with documentation now complete, is being reviewed by the National Energy Board. This 21-month process will be followed by a shorter period in which the federal government will look at the evidence “and make sure there was proper consultation with indigenous communities — and then a decision will be made by the Government of Canada in our own interpretation of the national interest, which is what we are prepared to do.”
Meanwhile, the federal government has “lots” of other energy projects before it, like the TransMountain pipeline expansion and the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project that will begin review in the next few months.
“Just as importantly,” the government is reforming the review process “permanently” and will ask Canadians for their advice on a regulatory system that will carry their confidence to create a worldclass system that looks “both at growing our economy while we pay close attention to environmental issues.”