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The Ministry of the Environment is working hard to improve the newish air pollution regulation O.Reg. 419/05. The original concept, that a five-year phase in period would result in businesses inventing pollution control technology, usually has not worked. As major businesses get close to the February 1, 2013 deadline, they are digging in their heels. The ministry has already made some amendments to recognize maximum available control technology as a practical constraint on emission reduction, just as the US does.

A second flashpoint comes at the surprisingly difficult threshold of determining whether an existing facility is complying with the new limits. The Combined Modeling Monitoring approach, which the regulation contemplates as a high-quality, objective process producing reliable and consistent results, has turned out to be subjective and susceptible to abuse. With sufficient manipulation of the assumptions, many facilities can be declared noncompliant. Example: a building has a door, which is actually open less than an hour a day. By making the unrealistic but “conservative” assumptions that the door is open 24 hours a day and that the building’s negative pressure system is ineffective, the ministry can “predict”  illegal emission, with potentially severe consequences for the facility operator.

Fortunately, the CMM process is being significantly revised, and should become better anchored to actual site conditions; the details are to be disclosed in a Technical Memo later this year. The MOE has issued an RFP for a study of what jurisdictions around the world are doing in terms of tools to “refine” fugitive emission estimates for individual sources and to compare the accuracy of such tools to the CAMM with the aim of “improving the CAMM” (which needs it). European regulatorsare also in active discussions on how to improve Combined Modelling and Monitoring at the regional and national scales. I’m told that all of the studies so far point to the need for large monitoring networks and use of multiple co-emitted contaminants or “fingerprints” of sources in order to have any hope of resolving source contributions.

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