The head of Western Australia's environmental watchdog has denied the premier leaned on him to withdraw a recommendation that new emissions-intensive projects should be carbon neutral.
The Environmental Protection Authority last week released updated guidelines, suggesting new or expanding projects with emissions higher than 100,000 tonnes a year should be fully offset, prompting a widespread backlash.
The industry warned it could jeopardise tens of billions of dollars worth of new LNG projects and Premier Mark McGowan also swiftly rejected the advice.
After meeting with industry representatives on Thursday, Mr McGowan spoke with EPA chairman Tom Hatton, then announced the independent body had dropped its recommendation and would consult more with the sector.
Dr Hatton rejected the suggestion Mr McGowan had leaned on him to back down.
"He did not ask me to withdraw the guidelines. He asked me to consider whether further consultation was merited and I agreed with him that it was," Dr Hatton told 6PR radio on Friday.
But the scientist admitted no premier had ever called him to reconsider guidelines in the past.
Dr Hatton said he was worried it may appear the EPA's independence had been compromised, but stressed that was not the case.
He said the guidelines would be reworked over the next few weeks.
"Our consultation was insufficient in the first instance, and I take responsibility for that, but that doesn't mean the direction we're heading in is wrong in terms of advising the state government on the serious increase in emissions," Dr Hatton said.
The WA government is not bound to accept the advice of the EPA and has gone against the body's recommendations in the past.
Australian Associated Press