OPINION: GGPPA oversights need to be fixed

OTTAWA, MARCH 29, 2021 – As in past requests made, the Canadian Propane Association (CPA) is again, calling for urgently needed changes to the federal “backstop” under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA).

Currently under the GGPPA, farmers pay a carbon tax for using a cleaner fuel (propane) while gasoline and diesel are exempt.

Three key changes would address oversights in the original bill, while assuring that the intention of the GGPPA is not only respected but enhanced.

First, the GPPA should be changed to ensure that low-emission propane receives the same exemptions as any other fuel, such as gas and diesel, used in agriculture.

Second, the “exclusivity for farm machinery in Sec. 18 (part 7)” should be changed to include farming activities such as fuel used for heating hatcheries, barns, etc. as eligible farming activities under the act.

Finally, the GGPPA should be changed to ensure that low-emission propane receives the same fuel charge exemption as natural gas and diesel for remote power plant operators under Sec. 36 of the act.

Far too many Indigenous, rural and remote communities are forced to use carbon-intense fuels such as diesel for heating and power generation. This presents a variety of environmental, economic, technical, and social challenges including air and noise pollution, the risks of fuel spills/leaks, high cost of energy, supply issues and capacity constraints. In addition, costs for mediation can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

If propane was exempted under the GGPPA, it would encourage communities to use a fuel that does not cause such environmental damage to air, land or water. If spilled, propane dissipates into the air. For renewable projects, propane is a clean alternative to diesel for back-up power when solar and wind are not available.

The CPA supports Bill C-206, sponsored by MP Phillip Lawrence, which we believe makes important steps towards ensuring low-emission propane is on a level playing field with more carbon-intense fuels in agriculture applications.

Canada’s propane industry is ready, willing and able to adapt to the environmental and energy policy directions as determined by the federal government. The development of renewable propane—which is already commercially available in the United States and Europe—is proof of the potential. However, in order to maximize the benefits of low-emission propane, the federal government has to remove stumbling blocks to that effort. And that begins with three important changes to the GGPPA in the upcoming budget.

Nathalie St-Pierre

President and CEO,

Canadian Propane Association

Ottawa, Ont.