Amended Ontario air emissions reporting rule aligns with NPRI, will save industry up to $2 million
The Ontario government has revised the provincial regulation requiring industries to report their air pollution emissions in order to harmonize its system with that of the federal National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). By updating the list of Ontario-specific substances, removing substances whose reporting is required through other regulations, and de-listing substances that present minimal risk to the environment and human health, the revised regulation will save businesses an estimated $2 million in reporting costs.
Ontario facilities are required to report on their air emissions annually to both the provincial and federal governments. Although facilities report through a national, on-line reporting system, Ontario-based facilities were required to submit the same information twice in response to different data requirements of the two governments, costing companies time, money and resources.
Following several years of data analysis and stakeholder consultations, the Ministry of Environment has amended Ontario Regulation 127/01-Airborne Contaminant Discharge Monitoring and Reporting-under the Environmental Protection Act by Ontario Regulation 37/06, effective February 15, 2006. The changes will:
*reduce the airborne contaminant list from over 350 substances of interest to 15;
*remove the smog season and quarterly reporting requirements;
*remove special rules applied to particular facilities; and
*remove special reporting requirements concerning the type of energy source and the amount of electricity produced by electricity generation facilities.
Of the substances being de-listed, reporting through the NPRI program is already required for approximately 280 of them. A joint O Reg. 127/NPRI stakeholder work group reviewing the remaining 70 Ontario-specific substances previously listed in Ontario Regulation 127/01, but not covered by the NPRI program, recommended that 55 of them be de-listed as they present minimal risk to the environment and human health.
As a result, Ontario facilities can now report on over 280 Canada-wide and 15 Ontario-specific substances to the Environment Canada national database. All of the data collected by Environment Canada will be shared with the province.
National consultations have already begun on the possibility of Environment Canada incorporating Ontario's reduced list of substances into the NPRI national database. In the meantime, the federal department has agreed to accept emission reports from Ontario-based facilities on these 15 substances, under Ontario's legal authority.
While specific reporting requirements are being removed, the MOE notes that smog season and quarterly reports will continue to be available through the NPRI database, while special reporting requirements relating to electricity generation facilities will continue to be available through Ontario's emissions trading regulation. Reporting requirements for special facilities such as universities, colleges, office buildings, hotels or shopping centres have been removed because NPRI's reporting requirements provide the same level of information.
By reducing the regulatory burden and eliminating duplicate reporting, the provincial government estimates that some 4,000 Ontario facilities will save a combined total of more than $2 million annually. It says the revisions will make reporting easier and more effective for both industry and government.
Ontario will continue to work with the federal government to finalize the harmonization, ensuring a continuous data collection process and timely public access to the reported data through a provincial-federal agreement. Full harmonization, says the province, will make the reporting process more efficient, without compromising environmental protection and human health.
The initiative has been well received by industry.
"Inco is a strong supporter of regulatory initiatives that result in efforts that avoid duplication and reduce administrative burden without compromising environmental protection," said Dave Taylor, environment superintendent for Inco's Ontario operations. "We are pleased to see both levels of government partnering to work towards a reporting system that eliminates redundancy," he added.
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association also commended the Ministry's move to harmonize the provincial and federal monitoring and reporting systems. Yasmin Tarmohamed, the CVMA's vice-president for environment, health and safety, said, "It is encouraging to see the Ministry addressing the issues and concerns raised over the last few years on the need for a one-window, harmonized and streamlined approach to emissions reporting."
Whether required to report emissions under O Reg. 127/01 or the NPRI program, Ontario-based facilities will continue to use the national Web-based reporting system called OWNERS, the One Window to National Environmental Reporting System. Beginning with the 2005 reporting year, all Ontario airborne emissions data, including those reported under the authority of O Reg. 127/01, will be available to the public through the NPRI program. Access to data reported from 2001 through 2004, and all information relating to the previous version of the regulation, will be available in the OnAIR Historic Repository.
More information is available on-line at www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/monitoring/monitoring.htm.