WA caves in on EPA emissions guidelines

The Western Australian government has backed away from the WA EPA's proposed guidelines for new emissions intensive projects to be carbon neutral, following pressure from the oil and gas industry and the Australian Government. The guidelines would have required all operations with direct carbon emissions above 100,000 tonnes a year to offset them through environmental projects.

Following a meeting with industry representatives last week, the Premier Mr McGowan announced that the EPA had dropped its recommendation and would consult more with the sector.

In a statement, EPA chair Dr Tom Hatton said it was clear there was “some uncertainty within industry on the technical aspects and the practical implementation of the guidelines, particularly with respect to offsets.”

“The EPA also appreciates that further discussion is merited to ensure that industry and stakeholders can anticipate how such guidelines can apply to proposals.

“The EPA does not resile from the need to reduce Western Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Nor do we resile from our absolute right and obligation to provide advice to the Government on these matters.

“However, it is important that the detail of such advice is more fully developed and the practical applications are well understood.

“As a result, the EPA will be undertaking further consultation with industry and stakeholders to ensure these guidelines can be practically implemented and that they are fully complementary to Commonwealth regulation.

“The EPA is withdrawing the revised guidelines from application, until those consultations with industry and stakeholders are more fully complete.”

The decision has drawn sharp criticism from the Conservation Council of Western Australia.

Describing the move as a “display of toxic oil and gas industry influence” over the state government, CCWA’s Director Piers Verstegen described the move as “deeply worrying”.

“Big oil and gas companies do not run this state, and the state’s biggest polluters should not be dictating climate change policy to an independent statutory authority via the elected Premier,” Mr Verstegen said.

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