May 16, 2005

Factual record recommended for submission to CEC on Quebec vehicles

The Commission for Environmental Co-operation (CEC) of North America has recommended to the CEC Council the development of a factual record on the Quebec Automobiles submission (No SEM-04-007).

In its submission to the CEC, filed last fall (ELW October 18-25, 2004), the QuÈbec Association Against Air Pollution (Association quÈbÈcoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphÈrique) claimed that Canada, and specifically Quebec, is failing to enforce effectively sections of the provincial air quality regulation and Quebec's Environment Quality Act in connection with emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from post-1985 light vehicle models. Provisions in sections 96.1 and 96.2 of the regulation and sections 19.1, 20 and 51 of the act prohibit the removal of, or tampering with, a car's catalytic converter. Violations are punishable by fines and/or prison terms.

In a response to the submission early this year (ELW February 14, 2005), the Quebec government said the problem meant to be addressed by these "anti-tampering" provisions was in large part resolved by the ban on leaded gasoline that took effect in 1990, followed by the introduction of fuel injection and car engine computers. The province further noted that it is concentrating on developing a motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program, which will address socio-economic and technical issues encountered in other jurisdictions that have adopted such programs.

The government's response added that Quebec wants to start by dealing with pollution from heavy vehicles and that it has authorized the drafting of a regulation in this regard. (A draft regulation has just been published for public comment-see following story.) In addition to strictly enforcing the law, the government maintained that the provincial Environment Ministry has carried out awareness raising, educational and information activities, and has monitored the state of the vehicles on Quebec's roads.

After reviewing the submission, the CEC decided that the submission warrants the development of a factual record to gather additional information in connection with central questions left open by the governmental response. These questions relate mainly to the assertion in the submission that, after years of studies and stated intentions to adopt a comprehensive set of measures for enforcing the provisions cited by the environmental group, Quebec has failed to establish a firm schedule for doing so.

More information is available on the CEC Web site, www.cec.org (see Citizen Submissions on Enforcement Matters).

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