WA EPA to open consultation on emissions guidelines

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WA’s environmental regulator is opening new guidelines that would include greenhouse gas emissions into its review and assessment projects to public submissions. The inclusion of carbon offset requirements, for projects with a high level of carbon emissions, into the WA-EPA’s project approval process, as proposed, would have been a significant change to the way in which new or expanded mining projects are approved in the state, 

The open consultation will last for 12 weeks, closing on September 2. Submissions on potential changes to Western Australia’s greenhouse gas guidelines are welcome. There is little doubt that powerful natural gas interests will push hard for a weakening of regulations.  

EPA Chair Tom Hatton said the authority had listened to industry, interest groups and the community on the need re-open the guidelines for potential changes after having been rescinded in March. “The intention of the further consultation is to listen to the community and our stakeholders,” said Hatton, “to ensure the greenhouse gas guidelines provide a robust and effective framework within which the EPA will consider the greenhouse gas emissions on future proposals.” 

The EPA withdrew a set of previously revised guidelines in March after receiving significant backlash from both industry and the state government. Those guidelines required all new projects that emitted more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum to offset their emissions. Critics of the proposed guidelines argued that they were putting billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs at risk. Such criticism received a sympathetic hearing from the state Labor government. 

For the purposes of reference, the rescinded guidelines will be made available once the new consultation period opens. In addition to this the EPA will provide a “background paper” for potential contributors to consult. 

Submissions will be reviewed and published online following the consultation period, with the release of the new guidelines pencilled in for December 2019. 

Submissions can be made at https://consultation.epa.wa.gov.au/ from Monday June 10, 2019. 

Earlier this week, WA Premier Mark McGowan made a pitch to gas companies to “go west” and for businesses to follow suit, given the state’s “cheap, reliable and abundant” gas supplies. 

“Western Australia is a world leader in LNG and one of my Government’s key priorities is to grow our State into a global LNG hub, to unleash thousands of new jobs for Western Australians,” said McGowan in a statement. The comments were made in the lead up to the APPEA 2019 Oil and Gas Conference in Brisbane. 

Author: Blake Matich