July 26, 2004

Nova Scotia proposes amendments to air quality regulations

Proposed changes to Nova Scotia's air quality regulations under the provincial Environment Act will target smog and acid rain, reducing allowable emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) for the province as a whole and for specific emitters, as well as emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX). Other changes under consideration would limit the amount of sulfur contained in heavy fuel oils.

Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash said the proposed amendments will also simplify emission reporting requirements for companies "We want to be able to bring our reporting requirements in line with national requirements. That will make it easier for companies and regulators to ensure consistency and improve efficiency," he explained.

The current air quality regulations were written in 1995; the proposed amendments are intended to implement environmental commitments included in Nova Scotia's Energy Strategy, unveiled in 2001. These commitments call for reductions in annual provincial SO2 emissions starting in 2005, and reductions in NOX emissions by 2009.

The proposed amendments include:

*a 25% reduction in the provincial SO2 emission cap, starting in 2005;

*a corresponding 25% reduction in the SO2 emission cap for Nova Scotia Power, with a further 25% reduction effective in 2010 (for total reduction of 50%);

*a 20% reduction in NOX emissions from NS Power facilities by 2009;

*a 2% limit on the sulfur content of heavy fuel oil (or equivalent), starting in 2005; and

*a requirement for major SO2 emitters to submit plans for achieving the emission reductions set out for 2010 in the provincial Energy Strategy.

In addition, an enabling provision is intended to streamline reporting requirements for major emitters who must file emission reports with several agencies. Another amendment would require the submission of a compensation plan for all exceedances of an annual SO2 allocation, unless the Minister grants an exemption.

A summary of the proposed amendments is available at any Nova Scotia Environment and Labour Office, on the department Web site, www.gov.ns.ca/enla/, or by calling (toll free) 1-800-567-7544. The deadline for comments is Monday, August 9, 2004.

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