January 28, 2021

Streamlining regulations can benefit industry and environment

Environmental regulation of the oil and gas industry is an essential element of project approvals. It provides a robust operating framework for companies to meet the standards expected of them by Australian communities.

However, the duplication and overlap of environmental regulations at both the Federal and State and Territory Government levels can result in delays and uncertainty for projects. This can lead to costly delays, negatively affecting investment while doing nothing to help the environment. Even a delay of one year to a major LNG project can incur between $500 million to $2 billion in additional costs, according to information from the Productivity Commission.

The final review of the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), the country’s primary document related to the environmental regulation of oil and gas projects, is bringing significant refinements that will help to address this issue.

The review, which was released to the public today, incorporates bilateral agreements that will provide Australian states and territories with greater levels of autonomy in deciding environmental outcomes for major works. Based on existing levels of environmental protections as a new baseline, these agreements would reduce the regulatory burden faced by industry and deliver better levels of environmental protection. The shift is expected to help Australia remain an attractive investment destination while maintaining the same level of high environmental standards.

APPEA understands the critical importance of effective environmental regulation to ensure standards are up to scratch. We believe that the introduction of these measures continues the sensible and considered evolution of environmental standards in Australia in a way that facilitates good outcomes for industry and environment alike.