The Ontario government is killing its plan to ban natural gas use as part of its Climate Change Action Plan.
Since details of the Action Plan were reported by the Globe and Mail earlier this month, the provincial Liberals have come under heavy criticism for their strategy to phase out natural gas use in the province. Critics of the plan warned that a growing reliance on costly electricity would have a negative impact on homeowners and business in the province. Ontario agricultural leaders also wondered whether the province’s promise to extend natural gas to rural Ontario and give farms access to cheaper energy would meet a sudden death.
According a government news release dated May 26, natural gas “is not being banned.” The government will now commit to spending up to $100 million from its cap and trade program to control carbon emissions over four years to support the introduction of “renewable” natural gas.
“Through the Climate Change Action Plan, which will be released this spring, Ontario will encourage the use of cleaner, renewable natural gas in industrial, transportation and buildings sectors, the province’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” says the release.
“Methane that is released from sources such as landfills, municipal green bin collection, agricultural residues, livestock manure, food and beverage manufacturing waste, sewage treatment plants and forestry waste can be recovered, cleaned and can be directly substituted for conventional natural gas,” the release notes. “Renewable natural gas is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and uses the same infrastructure.”
The announcement appears to breath life into several recently announced government programs, including a $200 million Natural Gas Access Loan and a $30 million Natural Gas Economic Development Grant to help more communities that previously lacked the necessary infrastructure to switch to natural gas.
The news also allows provincial agriculture minister Jeff Leal to continue to promise that his government will work to ‘gasify’ rural Ontario.
“Natural gas is an important source of energy for rural Ontario and for the many industrial and commercial farm activities that benefit from it,” said Leal in the release. “That is why? our government made a commitment to expand natural gas to more families across Ontario who need it and to businesses to help them thrive and remain competitive in Ontario. Investments in the natural gas system allow us to create jobs and embrace new technologies that will create opportunities for innovation, like renewable natural gas sources.”