Ministry proposes amending the Renewable Energy Approval Regulation
On October 7, 2010, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment (MOE) proposed amendments to O. Reg. 359/09, the regulation governing Renewable Energy Approvals (REAs). The following are among the key proposed amendments
- For the determination of setbacks, the definition of a noise receptor on a vacant lot, for which there is no site plan approval or building permit, would be changed from the centre of the vacant lot to where a building would "normally be located," having regard to existing zoning by-laws and the area's building pattern. In addition, proponents would only be required to consider noise receptors that existed (or were deemed to exist) at the time of application (that is, when a draft site plan is issued). They would also have the option of submitting a draft site plan showing the proposed location of wind turbines, but only taking into account those noise receptors that existed (or were deemed to exist) when the draft site plan was issued. The plan would expire six months after its publication unless the proponent submitted an application for a REA.
- In considering the noise setback for the siting of new wind turbines, proponents would be required to include planned turbines with sound power levels equal to or greater than 102 dBA within 3 km of a noise receptor if the turbines have been identified in a REA application, a draft site plan or a notice of completion, even if the turbines have not yet been approved.
- Proponents would be required to submit a written summary explaining how they determined that their projects were not situated on certain protected properties or an archaeological or a heritage resource.
- Certain classes of wind projects would be required to meet additional criteria. Proponents of Class 3, 4 and 5 wind facilities (that is, those facilities with a nameplate capacity of 50 kW or more or those facilities with at least one turbine in water) would be required to complete an environmental monitoring plan for birds, bats and other species identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Class 2 wind facilities (that is, those facilities with a nameplate capacity of more than 3 kW and less than 50 kW that are built on land) would be required to produce a report outlining the sound power level, manufacturer's specifications and site plan.
- Further procedural detail would be provided regarding (i) the distribution of notices for project and public meetings and (ii) in mandatory consultations with the public, aboriginal communities, municipalities and the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
- The nameplate capacity thresholds for solar facilities (which are used to determine, among other things, whether a REA is required) would be changed from 10 kW to 12 kW.
The MOE is accepting comments on the proposed amendments until November 21, 2010. For further information, please see Proposed Amendments to O.Reg. 359/09.
In the Courts
Alberta court orders Syncrude to pay $3 million
On October 22, 2010, the Provincial Court of Alberta ordered Syncrude Canada Ltd. to pay $3 million following its recent convictions under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) and Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (AEPA). The convictions relate to the deaths, in 2008, of some 1600 migratory waterfowl found in the company's Aurora Settling Basin, north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The $3 million court order includes a $300,000 penalty, the maximum fine for an offence under the MBCA, which will be paid to the federal Environmental Damages Fund; and a $500,000 penalty, the maximum fine for an offence under the AEPA, with half of the amount directed toward a program for bird protection and monitoring, and integrated with aboriginal training in Fort McMurray. The court order also accepts a joint submission of the Crown and defence counsel, in which Syncrude agreed to fund certain sentencing projects; in particular, Syncrude agreed to pay $1.3 million to be held in trust by the University of Alberta for the Avian Protection Research Study; and to make a $900,000 contribution to purchase lands in the Golden Ranches Conservation Area, near Edmonton.
Environment Canada issues emission regulations for light-duty vehicles
On October 1, 2010, Environment Canada issued the Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emission Regulations. The regulations establish fleet-average greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards applicable to companies that manufacture or import new passenger automobiles and light trucks for sale in Canada, beginning with the 2011 model year. For that year, as reported in Torys' April 2010 Climate Change Bulletin, the regulations are designed to align with the existing U.S. national fuel efficiency standards.
Then for 2012 to 2016 model years, the regulations establish fleet-average standards that align with a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program. Moreover, the regulations include a system of emission credits to help meet overall environmental objectives in a manner that provides the automotive industry with compliance flexibility. Credits may be awarded for certain vehicle design improvements that reduce GHG emissions through approaches other than directly reducing tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions (such as technologies that reduce the impact of air conditioning refrigerant leakage). Looking beyond 2016, Environment Canada also released a Notice of Intent regarding the federal government's commitment to continue working with the United States in developing tighter standards for light vehicles for the 2017 and later model years.
For further information, please see Canada announces regulations.
Government increases controls on bisphenol A
On October 16, 2010, the federal government increased its regulatory control of bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical commonly found in epoxy resins and used to make polycarbonate. After recently adding BPA to the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, Environment Canada proposed a Pollution Prevention Planning Notice to reduce the release of BPA from industrial wastewater into surface water or municipal sewer systems. The notice would require facilities to develop and implement plans to limit the release of BPA into the environment and to submit ongoing progress reports to the federal government. Environment Canada will be accepting comments on the Pollution Prevention Planning Notice until December 14, 2010. For further information, please see proposed notice.
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