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US seeks to limit methane gas flaring at drilling sites

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Friday proposed new rules to clamp down on oil companies that burn off natural gas on public land, arguing the effort will reduce waste and harmful methane emissions as part of President Barack Obama’s bid to curb climate change.Energy companies frequently “flare” or burn off vast supplies of natural gas at drilling sites because it does not earn as much money as oil. A report by the Government Accountability Office said 40 per cent of the methane gas being burned or vented could be captured economically and sold.Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement that natural gas should be used to power the economy — not wasted being burned into the atmosphere.Jewell said the new rule will modernize decades-old standards to reflect existing technologies, allowing companies to use captured natural gas to generate power for millions of homes and businesses. Between 2009 and 2014, enough natural gas was lost through venting, flaring and leaks to power more than 5 million homes for a year, she said.The new rule also should generate millions of dollars that can be returned to taxpayers, tribes and states while reducing pollution, Jewell said.The rule, developed by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, would require oil and gas producers to limit the rate of flaring at oil wells on public and tribal lands, periodically inspect their operations for leaks and replace outdated equipment that vents large quantities of gas into the air. The rule will be open for public comment for at least two months, with a final rule expected by the end of the year.Most of the gas being burned at drilling sites is methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, although it does not stay in the air as long. Methane emissions make up about 9 per cent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to government estimates.The oil industry has argued that new regulations are not needed for methane, because the industry already has a financial incentive to capture and sell natural gas. Methane emissions have been reduced by 21 per cent since 1990 even as production has boomed, according to the Western Energy Alliance, an industry group.“Another duplicative rule at a time when methane emissions are falling, and on top of an onslaught of other new (federal) regulations, could drive more energy production off federal lands,” said Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.If that happens, the result would be “less federal revenue, fewer jobs, higher costs for consumers and less energy security,” Milito said.Environmental groups praised the tougher methane curbs, saying regulations are needed to encourage industry changes that otherwise may not occur. “Today’s proposal is a win all around: for our environment, public health, taxpayers and our energy security,” said David Willett of the League of Conservation Voters.In the oil-rich Bakken region of North Dakota, as much as one-third of natural gas is burned off, causing significant light pollution that is visible from space. Officials at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota say flaring activities can spoil the park’s dark night skies.The Interior Department rule is part of the Obama administration’s target to cut methane from oil and gas drilling by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels.The Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule in August that requires energy producers to find and repair leaks at oil and gas wells and capture gas that escapes from wells that use a common drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.The methane rules follows a landmark regulation Obama issued last year to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants by 32 per cent. The plan, the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change strategy, has drawn legal challenges from power companies and Republican-led states.Obama also has proposed regulations targeting carbon pollution from airplanes and set new standards to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide pollution from trucks and vans.Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC by Matthew Daly, The Associated Press Posted Jan 22, 2016 9:02 am MDT Last Updated Jan 22, 2016 at 10:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks in Libreville, Gabon, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. The Obama administration on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, proposed new rules to clamp down on oil companies that burn off natural gas on public land, arguing that it will reduce waste and harmful methane emissions as part of President Barack Obama’s bid to curb climate change. Jewell said in a statement that natural gas should be used to power the economy, not wasted by being burned into the atmosphere. (AP Photo/Joel Bouopda Tatou) US seeks to limit methane gas ‘flaring’ at drilling sites read more

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No measures that could boost demand for housing in Toronto Morneau

by Allison Jones, The Canadian Press Posted Apr 18, 2017 8:41 pm MDT Last Updated Apr 19, 2017 at 8:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau (right) Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa (left) and Toronto Mayor John Tory arrive for talks on the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area in Toronto on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young No measures that could boost demand for housing in Toronto: Morneau TORONTO – Three levels of government facing a red-hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have agreed Tuesday not to introduce any measures that would further boost demand and drive prices even higher.The federal and Ontario finance ministers and the mayor of Toronto met in the city to discuss how to tackle the housing market in the region, where the average price of detached houses rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa signalled that he will unveil his housing plan before the provincial budget, set to be delivered on April 27.“In the coming week, the Ontario government will announce a suite of measures designed to increase supply and address demand,” he said. “We’ve developed a comprehensive action plan to help stabilize the housing market.”Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the three agreed that in the short term, none of the levels of government will bring in new measures for homebuyers that would boost demand.“We’re concerned that the price increases, in particular in the GTA, are putting the dream of owning a home out of reach of middle-class families,” he said. “At the same time, we know that those who own their homes are concerned that they maintain the value of those homes.”Morneau offered to share the data Ottawa is gathering on housing markets with the other two levels of government. He also said the Canada Revenue Agency will put resources toward ensuring tax compliance, but shut down a previous request from his Ontario counterpart to change the taxation of capital gains on the sale of homes that are not classified as a primary residence.“Everything we wanted to say about capital gains taxes was in our last budget and you probably saw what was in our last budget,” said Morneau, who did not include the requested changes in his budget last month.Late last year, Ontario announced it would double the rebate on its land transfer tax for first-time homebuyers to $4,000 in an effort to help them enter the housing market. Under the new rules, which took effect on Jan. 1, first-time homebuyers don’t pay any land transfer tax on the first $368,000 of a purchase price.Morneau’s latest comments suggest it’s unlikely first-time homebuyers will see any incentives in the near future.Toronto Mayor John Tory said there is a growing divide between those who can afford to live and work in the city and those who can’t.“The issue we’re facing on housing affordability affects almost everyone — those with lower incomes being priced out of the city and forced to commute hours every day to work, middle income earners struggling to afford rent and young couples looking to start a family and looking to acquire their first home and feeling an increasing sense of impossibility,” he said.Tory said he has committed to streamlining and speeding up building approvals, in particular for new affordable rental housing and he is also looking at a vacant homes tax.Sousa has spoken frequently in recent weeks about going after speculators, those who buy a home in the hope of turning a profit rather than to live in. The governor of the Bank of Canada has also said that the rate of increase in house prices in the GTA suggests the demand is being driven more by speculators than “just folks that are buying a house.”A spokeswoman for Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday a tax on non-resident speculators is one of the measures being considered. Sousa declined to clarify what that could look like. read more