Environment minister to axe renewable content requirement for home heating oil

OTTAWA – The federal government is backing away from requiring that home-heating fuel contain at least two per cent renewable content.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Monday he plans to amend the Renewable Fuels Regulations in the new year to make the current exemption for home-heating oil permanent nationwide.

That will likely be good news for consumers, since it costs more to produce home-heating fuel using renewable products such as biofuels.

Refineries in the Maritime provinces would also be given an extra six months to ensure that two per cent of the diesel fuel they produce comes from renewable sources, Kent said in a statement.

“Today’s measures will provide flexibility for Maritime provinces to make adjustments required to comply with the regulations and ensure Canadian families are not penalized for heating their homes with home heating oil,” he said.

The proposed change comes after the refining industry complained it would be hard-pressed to meet the deadlines laid out in the current regulations.

“There were wide consultations with the provinces and industry regarding the feasibility of meeting the time lines,” said Rob Taylor, Kent’s director of communications.

“The extension provided to the Maritimes is reflective of these consultations.”

Newfoundland and Labrador is already permanently exempt from the two per cent renewables requirement for transportation diesel fuel.

The regulations, which came into effect in September 2010, also require an average of five per cent renewable content in gasoline.

They’re designed to help the Harper government meet its commitment to reduce Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

That benchmark has not changed, said Kent.

“The Government of Canada is committed to regulating renewable content in gasoline and diesel fuel, and our regulations will continue to deliver significant GHG reductions,” he said.

The move away from renewables in home-heating fuel came on the same day that the first stage of the controversial Kyoto Protocol expired.

Environmentalists have warned of dire consequences for future generations unless tougher controls are not put in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions.