Can municipalities insist that local industries obtain municipal
air permits, in addition to those issued by the province?
Spurred by opposition to a new gas-fired electric power plant,
the Town of Oakville has opened a new front in the long battle over
the role of municipalities in controlling pollution.
The new plant will be much cleaner than the old, coal-fired
Lakeview plant that it will replace, and the Ontario Power
Authority says it is essential to provide reliable power in the
rapidly growing region. However, a provincially-funded study of
local air quality has already shown human health impacts from
existing levels of air pollution, fueling local opposition to the
new power plant.
In December, Oakville asked the federal ministers of Health
and the Environment to issue an interim order under Part V of
the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to
regulated particulate matter (PM10) and respirable particulate
matter (PM2.5). Although these two types of fine dust are
designated as toxic substances under CEPA, and are known to have
adverse health effects, the federal government has not adopted
regulations to control them. In part, this is because much of
the fine particular matter in our air comes from sources that are difficult to regulate,
(http://tinyurl.com/yhqf4x6) such as chemical reactions in the
atmosphere, motor vehicles, and home fireplaces and woodstoves.
Half comes from the US.
The Town also asked the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for
a full individual environmental assessment of the proposed power
plant; this request is unlikely to succeed. On February 2,
Oakville council therefore took matters into its own hands, passing
the Health Protection Air Quality By-law
The by-law applies to all facilities in the Town that send
"major emissions" into the air, i.e.,
direct emission of >300 kg of fine particulate
over 10,000 kg/year of volatile organic compounds;
over 20,000 kg/year nitrogen oxides (as NO2 equivalent);
over 20,000 kg/year sulfur dioxide; or
over 10,000 kg/year ammonia.
Under the bylaw, the proposed power plant and all future
major industries must apply for facility-specific approval of their
proposed air emissions, whether or not they hold Provincial
certificates of approval for their air emissions.
Existing facilities in the Town that cause major emissions to
the air must also obtain facility-specific municipal approval of
their air emissions.
Existing emitters who have MOE CofA's (air) will be
required to report to the Town on "major emissions"
within 6 months; those that do not require a CofA will have 1 year
to submit a report.
A database of all facilities that report, their emissions rates
and whether the facility is a source of a major emission will be
publicly available on the Town website.
Penalties of up to $100,000 may be imposed for facilities that
fail to report or obtain an approval.
This bylaw goes far beyond the City of Toronto environmental
reporting and disclosure bylaw, by asserting the right to shut down
or shut out industries that do not obtain municipal air approvals.
It also goes far beyond municipal bylaws to curb the
cosmetic use of pesticides, which were upheld by the Supreme Court
in Hudson v. Spraytech. It will almost certainly be
challenged in the courts. In the interim, it may or may not hold up
the proposed power plant.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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