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Harper Rules out Crackdown on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

'We're clearly not going to do it,' PM tells Commons.

Jeremy Nuttall 9 Dec 2014TheTyee.ca

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee's Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

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Falling oil prices have made the possibility of placing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for the oil and gas sector a "crazy" endeavour according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper said Canada would not unilaterally impose restrictions on the industry.

The prime minister made his assertion during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday when, once again, he was pressed by the New Democrats on when emission limits, promised since 2007, would be introduced.

Usually the Conservatives use that question, which often occurs daily from Opposition members, to attack the Liberal Party on its greenhouse gas emissions record, but on Tuesday Harper had a different answer.

"We're clearly not going to do it," he said to cheers of approval from his party after saying that initiating controls "under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy."

Harper said Canada is not willing to introduce restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, especially with oil prices recently incurring a 35 per cent drop.

"Regulating the oil and gas sector is something we would like to do, but we must do it on an integrated basis in a continental economy," he said, in reference to working together with the U.S. on restrictions.

'A new excuse'

But Greenpeace researcher Keith Stewart said the U.S. is already working on emission restrictions for the oil and gas sector, so all Canada needs to do is follow along, despite Harper's insistence it's not a good time.

"They've always had a new excuse as to why they're not doing it," Stewart said.

Stewart pointed to an internal memo sent from Environment Canada to the federal minister in 2013. That memo explained that the climate action plan, which the U.S. released in 2013, included emission restrictions for methane gas fracking.

He said the constant claims that restrictions on energy emissions would hurt the industry are blown out of proportion.

Stewart said the restrictions requested by environmentalists and Opposition parties would only result in a cost of 20 to 90 cents per barrel to the oil and gas industry, which he said is nothing compared to the recent price drop leaving oil at about US$65 per barrel.

"You've had a lot worse happen and it hasn't changed things that much," Stewart said. "What's the cost of doing nothing?"  [Tyee]

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