State working on new environmental fees system for oil shale industry

To support the ailing oil shale industry, the government temporarily lowered environmental fees in early 2016. Instead of restoring the previous regime, the state is planning to introduce a new system in 2018.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, proposals to the effect are currently in the works. Press spokesman Rasmus Ruuda told ERR on Wednesday that they were working on them together with the ministries of finance and the environment.

In an interview with ERR on Wednesday, Minister of Economic Affairs Kadri Simson (Center) said that what would follow next depended on the joint efforts of the three ministries. “There’s the question as well whether or not we’ll have to make an exception in the sense that they’ll depend on whether shale oil or electricity is produced,” Simson said.

Such an exception is currently in place. Simson said that according to her discussions with the previous minister of the environment, the exception would likely remain in place. In the meantime Marko Pomerants (IRL) has left, and Siim Kiisler (IRL) has been appointed in his place.

Simson also said that the fees would remain dependent on the global oil price in the future.

The government lowered the environmental fees paid by mining and processing companies on their oil shale operations a year and a half ago. The most important fees were reduced to the 2009 level, and local governments that previously profited from an increased coefficient lost this advantage.

Then minister of economic affairs, the Reform Party’s Kristen Michal, said at the time of the decision that the next step would have to be a new system that would take the global oil price into account as a basic consideration. Michal announced the new scheme for 2018.

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