Canada Moves towards Clean Air, Empowers Local Environmental Groups

By Cat Lazaroff

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, January 24, 2000 (ENS) - Canada Environment Minister David Anderson today announced the commitment of over C$1.8 million in funding for 61 environmental projects by community groups from across Canada. Meanwhile, the government of Ontario today unveiled tough new actions to improve air quality in the province.

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Environment Minister David Anderson (Photo courtesy Office of the Minister)
"The actions of local organizations and communities are a critical component towards the improvement of the quality of our environment in Canada, and by extension, our quality of life," said Anderson, announcing the EcoAction 2000 grants. "The community pride and leadership shown in the development of these projects will ensure a lasting and positive environmental legacy as we begin a new millennium."

The EcoAction 2000 Community Funding Program is part of the Government of Canada's commitment to strengthen environmental protection, protect human health and enhance the quality of life for all Canadians, as outlined in the 1999 Speech from the Throne.

The Ontario region will receive $447,603 in EcoAction 2000 dollars. The funding will help locally based nonprofit organizations initiate 17 projects promoting cleaner air and water, an enhanced natural legacy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Among the successful project submissions are:

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The Acadian flycatcher, rare in Canada and the U.S., is among the beneficiaries of EcoAction 2000 (Photo courtesy Patuxent Wildlife Research Center)
Projects funded through EcoAction 2000 are required to result in positive, measurable environmental benefits, and should also build public awareness of priority environmental issues such as clean air, climate change, clean water and nature. These projects also respond to community needs and obtain a minimum of 50 percent in matching funding or in-kind support from other sponsors. Submission deadlines for the program are February 1st and October 1st of each year.

Information on current and past EcoAction 2000 projects can be found at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ecoaction/

Meanwhile, the Ontario Government today announced a new strategic attack on air pollution in the province. Key measures of the initiative include mandatory tracking and reporting of all harmful air emissions by industrial and commercial emitters, and tough new emissions limits for smog and acid rain causing pollutants.

"The new measures, targeted directly at smog and acid rain, will strengthen an already aggressive campaign to improve air quality in Ontario," said Environment Minister Tony Clement. "We will require full public disclosure and mandatory reporting of emissions for all major air pollution sources."

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Fossil fuel burning power stations like the Lambton Generating Station produce much of the region's air pollution (Two photos courtesy Ontario Power Generation)
In preparation for the opening of Ontario's competitive electricity market, measures will first be applied to the electricity sector, extending later to other sectors across the province. New emissions monitoring and reporting regulations will take effect in May 2000 for all electric power generating companies. Utilities will be required to report their emissions of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and a variety of other substances of concern such as mercury and carbon dioxide (CO2).

The new regulations will apply to all companies and organizations in Ontario's commercial, industrial and institutional sectors starting in January 2001.

In addition, the government will introduce lower regulated limits or caps for air emissions of NOx and SO2. The new limits will begin January 1, 2001 for the province's electricity sector and will be expanded to cover emitters in other major economic sectors of the province. The proposed net limits would cap total annual emissions from coal and oil-fired electricity generating stations in Ontario as follows:

The province’s government has set a target of reducing total SO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2015 as part of its contribution to the Canada-Wide Acid Rain Strategy for Post-2000. The province is also committed to meeting the targets of its Anti-Smog Action Plan, which includes reducing provincial emissions of NOx and volatile organic compounds by 45 per cent, compared to their 1990 levels, by the year 2015.

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Ontario also suffers from air pollution that drifts across the border from the United States
According to the Ontario government, more than half of Ontario's smog problem is caused by emissions from the United States. Any long term solution to the air quality problem would therefore require action to be taken throughout the regional airshed.

"The government invites the input of all Ontarians through the Environmental Bill of Rights registry as it now begins to turn these proposals into action," said Clement.

Details of the cleaner air proposals are posted on the Environmental Registry at www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/ebr/welcome.htm.