Background for the Proposed Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations
While significant progress has been made to date in reducing air pollutant emissions, air pollution remains an ongoing issue in Canada. The Government of Canada is committed to reducing health and environmental threats to Canadians from air pollutants. As a result, Canada is complementing its current actions to reduce emissions from vehicles, engines, consumer products and specific industrial sources with a new set of measures to limit emissions from all major industrial sources. These measures are part of a new national approach to air quality management in Canada.
Since 2008, the federal government has worked together with provinces, territories, industry and non-governmental organizations to develop a new comprehensive framework for addressing air pollution in Canada, called the Air Quality Management System (AQMS). In 2012, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), with the exception of Quebec, agreed to begin the implementation of the new system in order to further protect the health of Canadians and the environment. The key elements of the System include:
- updated voluntary Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS);
- active air quality management through local air zones and regional airsheds;
- base-level industrial emission requirements (BLIERs) for equipment; and,
- a collaborative process to address mobile source emissions.
Within the system, the federal government is responsible for implementing the industrial emissions requirements through regulations and other instruments under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). When implemented, the new BLIERs emission standards will ensure that all significant industrial sources in Canada meet a base level of performance, regardless of the air quality where the facility is located.
All of the regulated BLIERs would be included in one regulation, the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (hereafter referred to as the proposed Regulations). As future requirements are added for additional sectors, they would be drafted as amendments to these proposed Regulations.
The federal government designed the proposed Regulations to allow provinces/territories to be the front line regulator in their jurisdiction.
Only the basic information needed to establish compliance would be reported to the federal government. This approach reduces duplication and minimizes the administrative burden and costs for industry.
The federal government is also open to exploring equivalency agreements with interested provinces and territories. Equivalency agreements would allow a provincial/territorial regulation to apply, instead of some or all of the federal regulation, if a provincial or territorial measure is in place that meets the legal requirements under CEPA 1999. This means that the measure must be in place and equivalent to the federal regulation, and the jurisdiction’s legislation must include a citizen’s right to request an investigation into environmental offences.
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