12/19/2014 05:30 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST

Alberta Extends Climate Change Rules, Including $15 Tonne Carbon Levy

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EDMONTON - Alberta has extended its climate-change regulations, including the carbon levy on large emitters, for another six months.

The regulations had been set to expire at the end of the year but will now be kept in force through June 2015.

Premier Jim Prentice had promised the changes by the end of the year, but said Friday that more time is needed to analyze options on a revised climate-change framework.

Alberta currently has a $15 per tonne levy on carbon for large emitters.

The province is under pressure to take stronger measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it seeks to expand its petroleum industry.

Prentice has said he won't allow any changes to climate-change regulations that would harm Alberta's economy.

NDP environment critic Brian Mason said the Tories have again delayed "much-needed" changes to the regulations.

"The PCs' neglect of this crucial issue endangers our industry, as well as our natural environment," Mason said in a statement. "Alberta needs to take meaningful action to address our international reputation."

The managing director of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank, said it's good to have a clear timeline for improving the regulations and "a premier who is talking about getting it right rather than rushing changes through just to meet the year-end deadline."

Chris Severson-Baker said Alberta's current climate regulation is flawed.

"It has not been effective in reducing carbon pollution," he said in a release. "The province is not on track to meet its self-imposed targets, let alone its fair share of Canada's national target."

He said the regulation has been in effect since 2007 yet Alberta currently emits more carbon pollution than Ontario and Quebec, which together have more than 60 per cent of Canada's population.

The Pembina Institute wants Alberta to phase out coal-fired power ahead of schedule; invest in energy efficiency; increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the province; and raising the carbon price while applying it to a larger percentage of emissions.

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