PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) has called on the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) not to threaten investment in the state’s major industries.
The call comes after the EPA opened a 12-week round of industry and community consultation on its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions assessment guidance.
EPA chairperson Dr Tom Hatton said the consultation would help ensure the EPA’s assessment guidance on GHG emissions was well informed by the industry and the community’s views.
“The EPA is open to all views during the consultation and welcomes all submissions,” Hatton said.
“We want to ensure the greenhouse gas guidance we use for our assessment of significant proposals in Western Australia is robust and provides an effective framework within which the EPA will consider the greenhouse gas emissions of future proposals.”
The EPA in March this year withdrew revised guidelines on GHG emissions, which included rules that all new projects that emitted more than 100 000 t/y of carbon dioxide, should offset those emissions, after facing severe backlash from both the industry and the state government.
Industry participants claimed that the revised guidelines would jeopardize billions worth of investment, and thousands of jobs.
Appea CEO Andrew McConville said the EPA’s March proposal to require new or expanding manufacturing, generation and resource projects in Western Australia to completely offset their GHG emissions should not be replicated in this new approach.
“While experts agree that a market-based approach, administered at a national level and applying across the entire economy, is the least cost way to cut emissions, the EPA has previously wanted to use the very blunt instrument of regulation, focused on a small number of new or expanding projects,” McConville said.
“The EPA’s originally proposed approach had targeted Western Australia’s growth industries and would have deterred local investment, prompting projects to go interstate or overseas.
“Western Australia has a reputation as a stable investment destination. As proposed, the EPA guidelines would have sent a worrying signal to prospective investors.
“We believe the EPA has the opportunity, through this consultation process, to take a more balanced approach, one that complements rather than works against, state and national policies,” McConville said.
He noted that the new guidelines should recognise the role the Australian government plays as a signatory to the Paris Agreement and any approach should respect climate change policies and actions already in place at the federal level.
“West Australian projects can play a key role in lowering global emissions and our liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are contributing to a cleaner energy sector in Asia. According to Australian government estimates, our total LNG exports are reducing global emissions by at least 148-million tonnes per year – equal to over a quarter of Australia’s total annual emissions. LNG exports from Western Australia play a substantial role in achieving this outcome.
“We believe that it would make more sense for the EPA to only complete its guidelines when state government completes its review of climate change policy.”
The EPA’s Hatton said that the environmental body would consider all submissions and prepare new GHG assessment guidelines, which it intends to release later this year.
“During the development of the new guidelines the EPA remains mindful of any outcomes from discussions on greenhouse gas emissions at state and Commonwealth levels, and that any changes will potentially influence the EPA’s consideration of its assessment guidelines,” he said.