VICTORIA, B.C. — The Government of B.C. has proposed legislative changes that include renaming the BC Oil and Gas Commission to the British Columbia Energy Regulator.
The energy ministry announced Thursday that amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act have been proposed. The proposed changes would include a name change, board restructuring, and expanding regulatory responsibilities to include hydrogen.
The proposed changes will also restructure the regulator’s board, ensuring at least one director is Indigenous, said the ministry. The new board will reportedly have a modernized, inclusive structure.
According to the ministry, the proposed changes will generate economic opportunities, reduce emissions and support the transition to clean energy.
“People in British Columbia want to fight climate change and better protect our environment while supporting clean energy jobs and economic growth,” said Bruce Ralston, the provincial energy minister.
“We aspire to be a global hydrogen leader, and we are serious about supporting our hydrogen sector. These legislative changes enable further development of our growing hydrogen industry and help our province transition away from fossil fuels to a cleaner, low-carbon energy system.”
There are 49 proposed hydrogen projects in the province worth $5 billion, according to the ministry.
A provincial hydrogen study done in 2019 showed that by 2050, the province would expect hydrogen to provide a positive $2.5 billion impact on B.C.’s annual gross domestic product and 3,750 new jobs.
The ministry says the province could take a significant portion of the global hydrogen market, estimated to be worth more than $305 billion by 2050.
There is currently no regulatory framework for hydrogen in the province, said the province in a release, due to a “patchwork system” of legislation and regulations.
The proposed amendments will reportedly ensure an experienced regulator provides a one-stop place for the industry for permitting, regulating, safety and compliance orders from site planning to restoration. It will also ensure a more comprehensive consultation and engagement approach with Indigenous communities, according to the ministry.
Additional amendments will clarify the government’s authority to regulate carbon storage.
The proposed legislation will also provide the government and the regulator with expanded authority to hold this engaged in oil and gas activity responsible for cleanup and restoration associated with the activity.
First Nations and stakeholders representing the hydrogen, oil and gas sectors were reportedly consulted on the proposed legislation and will continue to be involved in regulation development and implementation