Sask. pitches 11 emission-reducing projects to Ottawa, hoping for $62M

Saskatchewan’s minister of environment is hoping opposition to the federal carbon tax plan does not prevent the province from receiving $62 million to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Province lost direct access to funds when it refused to sign on to carbon tax plan

Minister of Environment Dustin Duncan says the province is entitled to $62 million in federal funding to fight greenhouse gas emissions. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's minister of environment is hoping opposition to the federal carbon tax plan does not prevent the province from receiving $62 million to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In February, the province refused to sign on to Ottawa's Pan-Canadian Framework, which would have guaranteed $62 million to the province.

That money is part of the Low Carbon Economy Challenge Fund —  a pot of money available for governments, First Nations and businesses looking to finance clean energy projects.

Monday was the deadline for the province to submit its application to the low carbon fund.

The projects pitched include plans to improve natural gas service to First Nations communities, install solar power panels at SaskWater facilities and support innovation to lower oil and gas sector emissions.

Minister of Environment Dustin Duncan said they will reduce emissions, which should be acknowledged by the federal government.

"These are very good projects for communities, for families and most especially for the environment. Our estimate is that over the life of those 11 projects they would reduce approximately 188 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere," Duncan said.

He said the cost of those 11 projects is more than $200 million, the $62 million would go toward covering the total cost.

Duncan said if the Liberal government is concerned about emissions reductions it should fund Saskatchewan's projects. He said he has not discussed the proposal with his federal counterpart. 

NDP says Sask. at risk of being 'held hostage'

Last month, the province submitted a reference case to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to see if the federal carbon tax is unconstitutional.

NDP environment critic David Forbes said he hopes the proposed projects in the provincial government's application go forward. But he said he is worried the province has not done enough to convince Ottawa.

"We don't want the people of Saskatchewan held hostage, there's too much at risk. We don't want to see a carbon tax imposed by the Trudeau government because we haven't done our homework," Forbes said.

Details of province's climate change strategy to come

Last December, the province unveiled its climate change strategy.

The opposition NDP has been critical of the government for having too many "to be determined" items in that plan.

Duncan said on Monday those TBD's will start to be filled-in over the next few months.

"It's probably taking some more time than what people would like but what you are seeing is the rollout of a very credible plan of reducing emissions in Saskatchewan without a carbon tax," Duncan said. 

SaskPower has committed to 50 per cent electricity capacity from renewable resources and a 40 per cent reduction in overall GHG emissions by 2030.