Improving Air Quality Government Of Canada

4644 words - 19 pages

CLEAN AIR BACKGROUNDERWork had been under way for a decade or more to improve air quality in Canada. However, as scientific evidence demonstrates that more and quicker action is necessary, the ten-year Clean Air Agenda was developed and launched in May 2000. It focuses on five key areas:* reducing major industrial emission;* reducing transboundary emission;* reducing transportation sector emission;* advancing the science; and,* engaging the public.Additional areas of air-related work not included in the Agenda, such as Acid Rain, are included in this backgrounder. Good progress is occurring. Milestones have been achieved in every area of the Agenda.In June 2000, the Canada-wide Standards (CWSs) for Particulate Matter (PM) and Ozone were endorsed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). These standards set new ambient targets for these two pollutants to be achieved by the year 2010.In December 2000, Canada signed an Ozone Annex Agreement with the United States, which committed each nation to reduce its emission of ozone-forming substances (nitrogen oxide [NOX] and volatile organic compounds [VOCs]).In February 2001, the Minister announced an investment of $120.2 million over four years to deliver on the Canadian Ozone Annex commitments. This has allowed Environment Canada to start partial implementation of the Clean Air Agenda. The following outlines the allocation of these resources:* $48.4 million for regulatory initiatives on new vehicles, engines and fuels that will reduce emission of nitrogen oxides from new vehicles by 90 percent;* $19.8 million on initial actions, including development of a ten year plan to reduce NOX, in particular from the electricity sector, and VOCs emission from solvents and consumer products; development of a large joint analysis work program with the U.S., and funding for model applications;* $29.1 million to improve monitoring and reporting on air quality in order that Canada can track air quality within 500 km of the border with the U.S.; and,* $22.9 million to expand the National Pollutants Release Inventory, Canada's only legislated, nation-wide publicly accessible inventory of pollutants released to the environment. This funding will expand the number of substances which emitters must report on, and therefore increase the number of facilities reporting to 7000 by 2005 from 2100 today.* On February 19, 2003, the Government of Canada announced the "greenest" federal budget in Canadian history. With respect to air quality, the Budget clearly demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to achieve cleaner air for all Canadians: it provides $40 million, over two years, to promote best practices and develop regulations to address air pollution in a number of sectors in Canada, and to work with the U.S. to further improve transborder air quality.Reducing Transboundary PollutionIn December 2000, Canada signed an Ozone Annex Agreement with the United States, which committed each nation to reduce its emission of ozone-forming substances (NOX, VOCs). The U.S. commitments will result in an estimated ozone season reduction in the U.S. transboundary ozone region from the 1990 levels of 35 percent by 2007 and 43 percent by 2010 for NOx, and in an estimated reduction of 39 percent by 2007 and of 36 percent by 2010 for VOCs. This will reduce significantly the flow of pollutants from the U.S. into Canada.On January 6, 2003, Canada and the U.S. announced a joint commitment to build on the transborder air quality improvements of the last decade by starting work to develop new cooperative projects for the years ahead. This initiative is early action on the 2002 Speech from the Throne commitment to work with the U.S. to further improve air quality and work for a healthy environment.On June 2003, three major pilot projects were launched under the Canada-U.S. Border Air Quality Strategy:* in southwestern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State, the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy will identify measures to reduce air emissions and address transboundary pollution;* for southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario, the Great Lakes Basin Airshed Management Framework will explore the development of a co ordinated airshed management approach; and,* a joint study will explore the feasibility of emissions trading for NOx and SO2. NOx and SO2 emissions are key contributors in smog, fine particle and acid rain problems, in the Transboundary region.These projects will serve as a foundation for developing new strategies to improve air quality and address transboundary air pollution of concern to Canadians and Americans and will be completed in cooperation with provincial, state and other stakeholders.In June 2003, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation - North American Air Working Group was established. This group aims to facilitate cooperation on air issues among representatives from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.In June 2004 a meeting in Quebec City between Canada and the U.S. took place. Presentations at the meeting demonstrated that both countries are meeting specific obligations under the Annex. Stakeholders representing environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), health NGOs, and industry joined states and representatives of provinces and federal governments from both countries to review and comment on progress.On the basis of sound science completed by a joint Canada-U.S. science team, Minister Dion and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Leavitt endorsed, on August 17, 2004, a recommendation to consider a future negotiation of an annex to the 1001 Air Quality Agreement to address transboundary particulate matter or PM. Such a negotiation could occur as early as 2006.Reducing Transportation Sector EmissionsThe Government has announced a ten-year Plan of Action for cleaner vehicles, engines and fuels. The Plan of Action will align emission standards with those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and will result in a 90 percent reduction in vehicle emission for new cars in the period 2004 to 2007.A number of actions have already been taken in recent years by the federal government to improve air quality to benefit the health of Canadians. These measures include the:* existing Diesel Fuel Regulations (1997);* Benzene in Gasoline Regulations (1997);* Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations (1999);* Gasoline and Gasoline Blend Dispensing Flow Rate Regulations (2000);* a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing for the introduction of low emission vehicles (2001); and,* MOUs respecting emissions from engines used in a variety of off-road applications (i.e. handheld and non-handheld utility engines, off-road diesel engines, outboard engines and personal watercraft starting in 2000-2001).More recently, the Department has started to implement additional initiatives:* In July, 2002, the new Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II which will reduce the level of sulphur in on-road diesel to 15mg/kg, effective in 2006.* On January 1, 2003, the new On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations were passed. These Regulations introduce more stringent emission standards for 2004 and later model year on-road vehicles and engines.* The Government of Canada put in place its Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations on November 19, 2003. These Regulations establish emissions standards for 2005 and later model-year engines. As the existing engines are being replaced by new ones that meet the new Regulations, emissions will be reduced. By 2025, the proposed Regulations will result in a 44 percent reduction in combined halocarbons (HC)+ NOx emissions compared to the case where no regulations were introduced.* The Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on March 29, 2003. These regulations, which introduce emissions standards for small engines such as those found in lawnmowers, chain saws and string trimmers, are the first of our planned off-road engine emissions regulations. Other planned off-road emissions regulations will address recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATV's, as well as diesel engines such as those used in construction and agricultural equipment.Three Regulations are targeted for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I:* Regulations for off-road diesel engines, such as those that power construction, agricultural and forestry machines are were proposed in the Canada Gazette, Part 1 in March 2004. The regulations will establish Canadian emissions standards for off-road compression-ignition engines aligned with the U.S. "Tier 2" and "Tier 3" standards currently in place. Environment Canada plans to align with the U.S. EPA "Tier 4" standards once they are finalized.* A discussion draft of emission Regulations covering recreational marine engines such as outboards and personal watercraft and recreational vehicles, which includes snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles was released on Aug. 31, 2004. Formal publication of these off-road regulations, in Canada Gazette, Part I is expected towards the end of the year.* The Government of Canada plans to pass regulations to reduce the level of sulphur in off-road diesel fuel, in alignment with regulations being developed by the U.S. EPA. This is required for the new emission control technology (as discussed above under Regulations for Off-Road Engines) to function. It is currently planned that the regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I in the spring of 2004.Reducing Industrial Sector EmissionsTo address emission associated with industrial sectors, the Government is working with provinces and stakeholders on multi-pollutant analysis for key sectors to support decisions on emission reduction actions in jurisdictional plans on PM matter, ground-level ozone and mercury (with the exception of electric power generation, mercury is not one of the pollutants that is being targeted in the multi-pollutant emission reduction strategy).* Key industrial sectors being considered in this multi-pollutant analysis (i.e., major emitters common to a number of jurisdictions) include electric power, iron and steel, base metals smelting, pulp and paper, concrete batch mix and asphalt mix plants, and lumber and allied wood products.New source emissions Guidelines for thermal power plants were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on January 4, 2003. These new Guidelines set out more stringent limits for emissions of smog-forming sulphur dioxide (SO2), NOx and PM.The Government of Canada will publish a Notice of Intent in Canada Gazette, Part 1 in winter 2004 that describes a series of federal actions to reduce emissions of VOCs from the use of consumer and commercial products. These actions will be implemented over the period 2004-2010 and will include a mix of strategies and measures to achieve VOCs reductions from this sector. Reduction of VOCs emissions from consumer and commercial products is an important aspect of achieving the CWS for PM2.5 and ozone in Canada and will result in improvements in air quality.Work is currently under way to ensure that Canada complies, in 2007, with the Ozone Annex NOx cap commitment for fossil fuel-fired electricity generators with capacities over 25 MW in both the Ontario and Quebec portion of the Pollutant Emissions Management Area (PEMA).* Quebec is working on a regulation that will ensure that by 2007 NO2 emissions, in the Quebec portion of the PEMA, do not exceed 5 kilotonnes.* Ontario is currently developing additional actions in order to ensure compliance with the 39-kilotonne NOx cap. Environment Canada has concluded that, with no additional actions, the NOx cap will be exceeded in Ontario. As a result of this conclusion, Minister Anderson has sent, on December 20, 2002, a formal notice of consultation to Minister Stockwell of Ontario. Under the CEPA 1999 such a notice and consultation is a prerequisite to a regulation, should such a regulation become necessary to meet Canada's international commitments.Public Works and Government Services Canada is seeking through a competitive procurement to obtain up to 90 gigawatt-hours per year of Environmental Choice Program-certified green power for federal buildings in Ontario, to displace greenhouse gas and other harmful air emissions currently associated with federal electricity consumption. This is enough electricity to power about 16,000 average homes. A request for proposal is currently under review and it is anticipated that it will be issued in early 2004.National actions under the Border Air Quality Strategy will support federal and provincial guidelines and codes of practices for key sectors of the industry (e.g., iron and steel, wood processing, sustainable transportation, etc.).The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to implement the Canada Wide Standards (CWS) for specific air pollutants. In June 2000, Environment Ministers, with the exception of Quebec, took a significant step to protect the health of Canadians and ecosystems by agreeing to Standards to improve air quality. The Standards will reduce levels of benzene, mercury, dioxins and furans, particulate matter and ground level ozone.CWS for BenzeneBenzene has been classified as carcinogenic to humans, and is considered a substance posing some probability of harm at any level of exposure. In Canada, transportation, natural gas dehydrators, residential wood combustion and miscellaneous combustion are considered to be the major sources of benzene releases caused by human activity. Vehicle emissions are the largest source of benzene exposure for non-smokers, and smokers are exposed to even higher levels. The first phase of the CWS for Benzene, signed in June 2000, targeted the following sectors for reductions in benzene emissions: oil and gas, transportation, petroleum refining, chemical manufacturing and steel manufacturing. The second phase for the CWS was signed in September 2001 and set additional reductions of benzene. Other actions include national application of best management practices, and of best available pollution prevention and control techniques for new and expanding facilities. Significant emissions reductions have been achieved, with more targeted through 2010.Amendments to the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations as well as to the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part II in October 2003.CWS for MercuryMercury presents a risk to the environment and human health because it is toxic, persistent, and can bioaccumulate as methylmercury in fish and fish eating predators. Mercury can also travel long distances on air currents, and can settle on land and water far from the source of emissions. CWSs have been developed for mercury from dental amalgam waste (signed in September 2001) and fluorescent lamps (signed in May 2001), and for mercury emissions from selected industries, including base metal smelting and waste incineration (signed in June 2000). A CWS for mercury emissions from the electric power generation sector is currently under development.CWS for Dioxins and FuransCCME ministers (except Quebec) have endorsed two new CWSs for dioxins and furans, setting numerical limits and timelines for the reduction of dioxin and furan releases.Standards, signed in 2001, set emission limits for coastal pulp and paper boilers and incinerators.Standards, signed in May 2003, set emission limits for iron sintering plants and electric arc furnace.CWS for PM and OzonePM and ground-level ozone are the main ingredients of smog and cause serious health effects for Canadians, including thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions and emergency room visits every year. Recent studies have confirmed these negative impacts and shown that air pollution also increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease. The CWS for PM and ozone have been developed to reduce the risk of smog causing pollutants to human health and the environment.Achieving the CWS for PM and ozone will lead to significant health benefits for Canadians. Since 2000, the Government of Canada has:* released its Interim Plan 2001 on PM and ozone, which addressed the CWS commitment to prepare an implementation plan;* added PM10 to the List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), 1999;* added PM10 precursors and ground level ozone and its precursors to the List of Toxic Substances (Publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on July 2, 2003);* expanded the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) to now include the reporting of 60 VOC species and seven Criteria Air Contaminants;* developed numerous vehicle and fuels regulations; and,* invested in a new replacement monitoring equipment.In November, 2003, the Progress Report on Particulate Matter and Ozone was released. This report is the first periodic report that highlights actions by the federal government and progress made on our commitments in the Interim Plan 2001.Advancing the Science (Monitoring / Information Gathering)Air Quality MonitoringThe Government of Canada has added an additional $29.1 million to Canada's monitoring effort including the National Air Pollution Surveillance Network (NAPS), which now comprises 253 sites located in 156 communities measuring the components of smog. Together with the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN), with 24 air monitoring stations in rural areas, Canadians are getting up-to-date information on the pollutants in the air. NAPS has also been reviewed to ensure it meets CWS for PM and Ozone and Ozone Annex needs.Recently, a multilateral MOU on NAPS was negotiated. This MOU includes a series of bilateral annexes between Environment Canada and each provincial and territorial jurisdiction. All jurisdictions, except Ontario and Nunavut, indicated agreement in principle. Quebec and NWT are insisting on wording changes before they will sign.As part of a commitment made in the Ozone Annex, ozone air quality levels were reported for the first time for the region across Canada and the U.S. within 500 miles of the common border.Increased funding was allocated through the Border Initiative funds to support the "scientific" health and atmospheric agendas. These are essential to our policy work on CWS and Canada-U.S. cooperation.Information GatheringAs part of its commitment in the Ozone Annex, the National Pollutant Release Inventory has been expanded to include criteria air contaminants (NOX, VOCs, PM10, PM2.5, TPM, SOX, CO).2002 NPRI data was made available to the public in the summer 2003. These include criteria air contaminants for the first time, more comprehensive reporting by municipal wastewater sector and improved reporting on selected CEPA-toxic metal compounds.Public reports summarizing the 2001 NPRI was released in November 2003.Engaging CanadiansCanadians are being engaged through local summertime Air Quality Forecasts in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, covering more than 60 percent of the Canadian population.They are also being engaged through public outreach programs such as: Clean Air Day, the Commuter Challenge, Free Light-Duty Vehicle Emission Inspection Clinics (thirty-six in total), Free Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emission Inspection Clinics (twenty-one), Scrappage Programs across Canada (eight, including a National Lawn-Mower Program) and regional programs such as the Toronto Smog Summit and the Windsor Free Transit (on Smog Alert Day).Clean Air related Web sites (twelve sites are currently maintained within Environment Canada) play also an important role in engaging Canadians.Canadians are already getting, through improved air monitoring and air quality forecast programs, more and better information about air quality in their community. NPRI's Community Portal was launched in March 2004 provides air quality information to a less technical audience and will continue to be released annually.It is important to recognize that as we improve our air quality information systems, through better monitoring, and a more accurate and health relevant air quality index, there will, occasionally, be an impression of a degradation in air quality when in fact what is actually being seen is more and better data. Ultimately, better information improves our capacity to effectively address the problem, individually, corporately and governmentally.Environment Canada, in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, has developed a guide to encourage municipal, provincial, and federal government as well as other organizations in taking leadership by procuring low sulphur fuels (LSFs) for their operations where available and feasible. The guide consists of a brochure intended to market the concept of LSF procurement to decision makers, and a series of fact sheets designed to provide material managers with further information on the LSF procurement process. The guide provides an overview of the health and environmental benefits of LSF procurement, current and anticipated regulatory requirements for sulphur content in fuels, case studies, suggestions for implementing best practices in LSF procurement in conjunction with exhaust emissions control systems.A Clean Air On-Line Web site, including a Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Pilot Project, will be initiated over the next fiscal year in part through the Border Air Quality Strategy. This project proposes to facilitate public access to a wide range of understanding and encourage them to take action to reduce air emissions.In the near future, increase linkages between climate change and clean air will be made through the One-Tonne Challenge.Other outreach projects will take place through the Border Regional Pilots mentioned earlier.Air Quality Forecast and the Air Quality Index expansion will be done through the Border Air Quality Strategy funding.Regulatory FrameworkCEPA 1999 is the main enabling legislation that provides the authority to carry out measures to reduce the emission of air pollutants. For example, the vehicles and fuels regulations use Part 7 of CEPA 1999, Controlling Pollution and Managing Waste, to require improvements to the vehicles and their fuels.CEPA 1999 requires the federal Ministers of the Environment and of Health to prepare and publish a Priority Substances List that identifies substances that may be harmful to the environment or constitute a danger to human health. It also requires both Ministers to assess these substances and determine whether they are toxic or capable of becoming toxic. Once a substance is assessed as toxic, it may be placed on Schedule 1 of the Act and considered for possible risk management measures, such as regulations, guidelines, pollution prevention plans or codes of practice to control any aspect of their life cycle, from the research and development stage through manufacture, use, storage, transport and ultimate disposal.Other Key Areas of WorkAcid RainThe Canada wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post 2000, signed by federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Energy and the Environment in October 1998, commits governments to resolving the acid rain problem in eastern Canada and preventing one in western and northern Canada. A main element of the Strategy is reducing acid rain-causing emissions, SO2 and NOx, in eastern Canada. Under the Strategy, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia announced additional SO2 emission cuts, by 2010, of 50 per cent beyond their existing caps established under the 1985 Eastern Canada Acid Rain Program. Ontario's similar commitment for a further 50% cut in SO2 emissions by 2015 is undergoing consultation to advance the timeline to 2010. An Acid Rain Task Group under the CCME coordinates the implementation of the strategy.Another key element under the Strategy is to seek further emission reduction commitments from the U.S. Canada is in a stronger negotiating position with the U.S. now that the four provinces have committed to additional SO2 cuts. Canada will seek further commitments for cuts in U.S. acid rain-causing emissions, SO2 and NOX, as part of future negotiations under the Canada/U.S. Air Quality Agreement.An Acid Rain Assessment is currently underway with publication planned for February 2005.Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Heavy MetalsIn May 2001, Canada signed and ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) - the global Convention on POPs. This Convention aims at reducing and eliminating the major international sources of these toxic substances that are a significant concern for all Canadians. The Convention has been ratified by 35 countries to date and is expected to enter into force by late 2004/early 2005. Canada is currently preparing a National Implementation Plan (draft expected for May 2005) to meet one of the obligations of the Convention and to explain how Canada intends to comply with this legally binding agreement. The plan will also include an action plan for reducing unintentionally produced POPs such as dioxins and furans.The following decision on mercury were taken at the 22nd meeting of UNEP Governing Council in February 2003:- UNEP Global Mercury Assessment outcome has warranted immediate national action to protect human health and the environment from releases of mercury and its compounds, facilitated by technical assistance and capacity buildingsynthesis of governments' views on medium- and long-term actions on mercury to be presented at the 23rd Governing Council, with a view to developing "a legally binding instrument, a non-legally binding instrument, or other measures or actions."Further action on other heavy metals also to be considered at the 23rd Governing Council.Clean Air - Climate Change LinkagesAir pollution and climate change share common sources. The combustion of fossil fuels - most prevalent in the transportation, electric power generation and oil and gas sectors- are responsible for 70 percent of total greenhouse gas and a significant portion of NOX, SOX and PM emission. Public outreach initiatives, such as the One Tonne Challenge, offer an important opportunity to pursue complementary approaches. Through individual, community and industry leaders involved in the implementation of the Clean Air Agenda, linkages with climate change programs can be- made.The various substances we introduce to the atmosphere interact in complex ways producing effects we label as acid rain, air pollution or climate change. Understanding these interactions is critical to anticipating and adapting to the net effects on people and ecosystems and to developing appropriate mitigative measures. In addition to the atmospheric science research and monitoring programs conducted by the Meteorological Service of Canada, the Government of Canada has provided $110M in funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science to improve our understanding of these related issues.On December 17, 2002, the Government of Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Shortly before the ratification, the Climate Change Plan for Canada was released. The Plan's actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also help achieve Canada's clean air goals. Greenhouse gas reductions should have added benefits of reduced emissions of PM, NOx and SO2 from emitters like thermal electricity plants, refineries and pulp and paper mills, reducing traffic congestion in our cities and reducing emissions from homes and buildings.The February 19, 2003 Budget provides additional funding of $2 billion over five years to implement Canada's Climate Change Plan.__________________________________________________________________Strategies and Coordination BranchAir Pollution Prevention DirectorateEnvironmental Protection ServiceSeptember 23, 2004

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