The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (the Ministry) is seeking stakeholder feedback on proposed legislative changes to improve regulatory clarity and remove prohibitions on granting authorizations to use Crown land for carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities. The Ministry has also released a discussion paper on carbon storage, providing background on CCS and potential suitable sites in Ontario. This bulletin briefly summarizes the key changes:
Amendments to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act
Proposed Amendments to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act include:
- narrowing the prohibitions on the injection of carbon dioxide so that, going forward, the prohibition would no longer apply to potential carbon storage projects related to activities in wells regulated under the act other than for the purpose of carbon sequestration, when used in association with a project to enhance the recovery of oil or gas;
- adding the ability for the Ministry to enter into agreements with companies that want to use wells to explore, test, pilot or demonstrate new technologies (such as CCS) in relation to wells used for oil, gas, solution-mined salt as well as underground storage resources subject to Indigenous consultation requirements; and
- enhancing provisions for corporate accountability and allowing for the issuance of orders to prevent risks to the public or environment.
Amendments to the Mining Act
Proposed changes to the Mining Act would allow the Ministry to grant authorizations to use Crown land for carbon storage activities.
The Ministry notes that the proposed legislative amendments seek to provide greater regulatory clarity and support new energy concepts and technologies including CCS, as CCS is not currently subject to the provisions of the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act framework. The Ministry indicated that entering into agreements with CCS project proponents at the pilot and demonstration stage will provide valuable knowledge, learning, and experience to be used for the development of future commercial-scale projects.
The Ministry is seeking feedback on the proposed amendments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Interested stakeholders have been requested to submit comments to the Public Input Coordinator by March 14, 2022.