Petroleum lobby group calls on Ottawa to back off climate agenda and cancel implementation of UNDRIP

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      The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has asked the Trudeau government to delay a long list of environmental measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and crashing oil and gas prices.

      In a 13-page letter to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, CAPP states that the energy sector is "facing unprecedented fiscal challenges resulting from a collapse in energy demand—stemming from the pandemic— and a surplus of supply driven by OPEC country actions".

      The March 27 letter, which was released this morning by Environmental Defence, calls for postponing the development and consideration of any additional measures related to the climate, including the strategic assessment of climate change.

      It urges Ottawa to adopt the principle of "do no harm" while not acknowledging any harm that may be created by rising greenhouse gas emissions.

      The letter was copied to seven other members of cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

      In addition, CAPP wants the Trudeau government to defer federal methane regulations for one year or complete equivalency agreements with the provinces, which have weaker regulations.

      Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide over its lifetime, according to research conducted at Princeton University.

      Because methane doesn't last as long as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it can trap 85 times as much heat over a 20-year period.

      Perhaps most controversially, CAPP wants the government to defer introduction of legislation implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

      "Resume when it is possible to conduct meaningful consultation," the letter advises. "To ensure alignment with the do no harm principle there will need to be fulsome understanding of how some key components of UNDRIP will work with economic recovery of Canada.

      Environmental Defence executive director Tim Gray accused the oil and gas industry of "exploiting" the COVID-19 crisis to ask for a "sweeping rollback of environmental laws".

      "The government must stand up for Canadians and refuse to give the fossil fuel industry special exceptions from the rules that keep us safe,” Gray said.

      This image from the film Petropolis shows a large earth-moving machine at a bitumen deposit in Alberta.

      CAPP also wants the feds to back off increasing the $30 per tonne carbon tax "until economic recovery is underway".

      The carbon tax is scheduled to increase to $40 per tonne in 2021 and $50 per tonne in 2022.

      The lobby group's other requests include not finalizing the clean fuel standard, indefinitely exempting in situ oilsands mining and exploration projects from federal-impact reviews, and not proceeding with reforms to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

      This morning, West Texas Intermediate crude oil is trading at US$25.10 per barrel, whereas Brent Crude is selling for US$28.14 per barrel.

      This week, Western Canadian Select fell below US$5 per barrel. writer Michael Kern observed that this made Canadian oil "cheaper than a pint of beer". 

      Earlier this month, Alberta premier Jason Kenney said that his province's unemployment rate could rise to 25 percent due to the financial fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and lower energy prices.