OTTAWA – The Conservative government is punting long-awaited environmental regulations for the oil and gas sector into the indefinite future.
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq is refusing to put any timeline on rules that will force the emissions-heavy sector to clean up its act, although the regulations have been years in the making.
Her Conservative predecessor in the environment portfolio once predicted the regulations would be released last January, then revised the date to this past summer.
Now Aglukkaq is telling a House of Commons committee it would be premature to even speculate on when the new rules might be unveiled, repeatedly stressing she is in negotiations with the provinces and territories.
Aglukkaq later emphatically denied to reporters that the provinces are holding up the regulations, although she reluctantly gave a more nuanced response when asked about the role of the oil and gas industry in the talks.
Liberal environment critic John McKay says the government needs to bring in emissions regulations for the sector in order to give U.S. President Barack Obama an excuse to approve the Keystone XL pipeline — which McKay says has become a proxy fight over reducing greenhouse gases.