Quebec just became the first region in the world to ban oil and gas exploration and shut down all existing wells within three years time, in a controversial move away from the fossil fuel industry.
On Tuesday, Quebec’s National Assembly voted in favour of outlawing all fossil fuel exploration in the province, and gave oil and gas companies 3 years— or 12 months if there is a risk of gas leakage— to decommission all 62 wells in the province. Government officials also agreed to provide $100 million in compensation to industry operators, which is substantially lower than the $500 million initially requested.
“By becoming the first state to ban oil and gas development on its territory, Quebec is paving the way for other states around the world and encouraging them to do the same,” said Montreal-based environmental group Équiterre.
The passing of Bill 21 follows an attempt by GNL Québec to restore the $14-billion Énergie Saguenay megaproject in order to transport LNG to Europe in response to the region’s energy crisis amid the war in Ukraine. Despite calls on Canada to aid in the European continent’s energy security problems, the Quebec government renounced the continuance of the project back in early March, citing extensive public backlash, after opponents cautioned it would create about 1.8 billion tonnes of GHG emissions over 25 years.
“We are incredibly disappointed that the government of Quebec has chosen to proceed with this legislation,” said Michael Binnion, CEO of Calgary-based energy exploration company Questerre Energy on Thursday. “By blocking the development of its natural gas resources with zero-emissions technology for export, Quebec is missing an important opportunity to work with other nations to provide secure, reliable energy for our European allies.”
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