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Summer-stormThe Ministry of the Environment has proposed three new regulations to revise how it applies air pollution O.Reg. 419/05, at least to some sectors.

Under O. Reg. 419/05, air standards are set to protect against health and environmental effects, regardless of their technical feasibility or economic consequences. Facilities are required to comply with these standards within specified time lines. Facilities unable to meet these standards may request an “alternative standard” for up to 5 to 10 years, which may be renewable. Such requests require public consultation and must document the technical (and, if requested, economic) grounds for the request.
Requests for alternative standards must be decided on a case-by-case basis, and will have very high transaction costs for both industry and government. In addition, there are serious technical problems with the MOE’s attempts to establish actual “point of impingement” levels, including significant flaws in its interpretation of AirMod, the air modelling software.

The province now hopes to reduce its transaction costs (and, perhaps, to avoid a court challenge to its regulation) by grouping more than one facility within a sector, and by offering some sectors the option to use technology-based standards instead of points of impingement. For this reason, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is proposing to give itself authority to establish sector-specific technical standards, i.e. based on best available technology, not on point of impingement standards. Facilities would have an option to register under these alternate technical standards. According to MOE, “environmental improvements achieved through these new legal requirements would improve local air quality, be more cost-effective and clarify rules for industry.”

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