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Province announces new energy 'framework' on heels of LNG facility approval

Premier David Eby speaks during a news conference announcing that the Cedar LNG project has been given environmental approval, in Vancouver on Tuesday. RICH LAM, THE CANADIAN PRESS BC Premier David Eby speaks during a press conference announcing that the Cedar LNG project has been given environmental approval in Vancouver, Tuesday March 14, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government says it’s rolling out a new framework for approving oil and gas projects that will ensure the province meets its emissions targets in the coming decades.

Premier David Eby said the new framework will require new liquefied natural gas facilities to have a “credible plan” for net-zero emissions by 2030, and there will be an emissions cap on the industry.

Eby said his government will also establish a major projects and clean energy office to fast-track proposals that use clean technologies and create jobs.

The government will also launch a task force within B.C. Hydro to speed up the electrification of the provincial economy with a focus on renewable energy.

Environment Minister George Heyman said the new framework ensures industry is under “strong” emissions reduction requirements, while allowing it to seize upon opportunities to use emerging clean energy technologies.

A government statement says the new framework “builds off” the environmental assessment certificate granted to the Cedar LNG facility announced Tuesday, which it declared will be one of the lowest-emitting ­liquefied natural gas facilities in the world.

“Global markets have rapidly changed over the last couple of years and the urgency over the low-carbon economy we need to build has only grown,” Eby said at a news conference­ ­announcing the new framework Tuesday.

“But the scale of the climate crisis and the tremendous opportunities before us mean we must act with more urgency than ever before.”

Eby said the province will bring in an emissions cap for the oil and gas industry, to provide “predictability and strong measures to align efforts” to hit B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“Our intention is to leverage our clean electricity to supercharge B.C.’s economy and open new opportunities for business and job growth in the future, Eby said.

Heyman said the announcement was “a very significant moment for climate action in British Columbia.”

Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said the province was on the “front lines of climate change” and seeing its effects in wildfires, heat waves and flooding.

“British Columbians have made it clear that we need to meet our climate targets and move forward as a clean energy leader,” she said in a statement.