Ontario’s Environment Plan and Reduction of Sulphur Dioxide Emissions Regulation
By: Paula Lombardi
On November 28th, 2018 the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) posted its climate change plan as part of its environmental plan. Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made in Ontario Environment Plan (“Environment Plan”) appears to commit Ontario to reduce its emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
The goal of the Environment Plan is to address the following four key areas: Air, Lakes and Rivers, Climate Change, Reduction of Litter and Waste, and Conserving Green Space.
The measures being proposed by the Ontario government to reduce its emissions include: increase sales of electric vehicles and reliance on cleaner fuels. The Ontario government is looking to rely on the private sector to develop emission reduction initiatives by establishing a $400 million Ontario Carbon Trust emission reduction fund. The purpose of the fund is designed to use public funds to leverage private investments in clean technologies that are commercially viable. The creation of a reverse auction (Ontario Reverse Auction) at $50 million will allow bidders to send proposals for emissions reduction projects and compete for contracts based on the lowest-cost greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
In addition to the release of the Environment Plan at the end of November, the Ontario government also proposed a regulation to assist in reducing sulphur dioxide emissions from Ontario petroleum facilities. The regulation was subject to a 30 day comment period and the decision was posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (013-4126) on December 21, 2018.
Under the new sulphur dioxide reduction regulation, petroleum facilities in Ontario are required to:
- notify the MECP of sulphur dioxide flaring-type incidents exceeding the established threshold and post the emissions on a website;
- within a period of 60 days of flaring-type incidents exceeding the threshold submit a report to the MECP as to the cause of the incident and outline the corrective and preventative actions taken;
- calculate sulphur dioxide emissions from flaring type incidents and, within a period of 3 years, install emissions monitoring equipment;
- assess the efficiency of sulphur recovery units;
- prepare and submit a plan to the MECP for reducing flaring-type incidents and other sulphur dioxide emission on or before July 1, 2020; and,
- post a summary of the plan outlined above on the company website on or before December 31, 2020, along with posting annual updates following the initial submission.
The threshold established by the regulation for sulphur dioxide discharges from flaring-type incidents is 225 kilograms in a 24 hour period. The Environmental Penalties Regulation (Ontario Regulation 222/07) was also amended to provide for the issuance of penalties when a flaring event exceeds the legislated thresholds.