April 17, 2006

Proposed changes to Alberta law would allow emissions trading in NOX, SOX by electricity sector

Six amendments to Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) were introduced in the provincial Legislature on April 10 by Len Mitzel, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat. "These proposed amendments aim to strengthen emission controls, clarify cleanup requirements for contaminated sites and enhance the province's ability to promote environmental protection," said Environment Minister Guy Boutilier.

Bill 29, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act, would allow the electricity sector to conduct emissions trading in nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. This would help make Alberta's air emissions controls some of the toughest in North America. It reflects a consensus among industry, government and non-government stakeholders, as well as the recommendations of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA).

A second amendment to the EPEA clarifies industry's obligations to report and clean up contaminated sites closed before Alberta's current legislation was enacted (i.e. prior to September 1, 1993). The amendment would ensure the closure and remediation of any closed sites with adverse effects on the environment.

Another proposed change will improve programs for reclamation of coal and oilsands mines and will ensure that progressive, continuing reclamation of these sites is promoted and acknowledged.

The remaining three amendments:

*support the continued use of Codes of Practice for activities with low environmental impact;

*give Alberta Environment the flexibility to form partnerships with a broad range of organizations and individuals; and

*increase the amount of environmental information Albertans can obtain without having to file a formal request through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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