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On September 14, 2016, a gas-powered equipment merchant was ordered to pay fines totalling more than $65,000 for violating the Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (“CEPA”).

The company owner plead guilty to four counts of importing non-compliant equipment and engines, following an investigation in 2011 and 2012 finding that he had imported more than 2300 engines or equipment, including small engines, and was unable to provide evidence that he had conformed with the emissions standards for off-road small spark-ignition engines. Ultimately, the engines were confirmed to be non-conforming.

The regulations under CEPA are aimed at controlling air pollution and adverse effects on the environment and human health.

Most of the fines paid will go to the Environmental Damages Fund, which was created to provide a mechanism to fund priority projects to benefit the environment. $20,156.33 of the fine was for repaying or destroying the engines, or returning them to an educational institution. The owner was also required to publish a notice of violation in a known magazine or journal, a common practice in CEPA prosecutions.

Unlike provincial prosecutions, federal penalties often include a public “shaming” component in the form of these types of notices. While it is not an uncommon practice, it is unclear whether it achieves the desired deterrence effect. Federal prosecutions generally also direct the funds into environmental projects. This is unlike the Ontario system where the monies almost always go into the general revenues of the province.

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