The government has introduced a Bill that proposes to end the use of coal at Ontario’s remaining coal-fired electricity generating facilities and to prohibit new stand-alone coal-fired generating facilities. The Bill, if passed, would provide a legislative foundation for ensuring the health, environmental and climate change benefits of eliminating this use of coal.
Coal-fired electricity generating facilities are major sources of air pollution. Emissions from these facilities include: oxides of nitrogen (NOx); sulphur oxides (SOx); particulate matter (PM); and a variety of toxic pollutants (e.g., mercury). These emissions are associated with major health impacts (e.g., premature death, increased hospital emissions for patients with asthma and chronic lung disease) as well as environmental impacts (e.g., buildings, crops and ecosystems).Coal-fired electricity generating facilities are also large emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) which contribute to global climate change.
The proposed Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, 2013 builds upon the Cessation of Coal Use Regulation from 2007 and strengthens the province’s commitment to ensure that coal-fired generating facilities close by 2014. Ontario’s elimination of stand-alone coal-fired electricity is the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in North America and is a signature initiative under Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. Additionally, ending the use of coal at the province’s coal-fired generation facilities will save the people of Ontario an estimated $4.4 billion per year in health, environmental and financial costs.
Ceasing the use of coal through legislation highlights the importance of these achievements and ensures not only that existing facilities close, but prohibits the use of coal for any future stand-alone electricity generating facility.
Description of Act:
This proposed Bill amends the Environmental Protection Act. It would add a new Part to the legislation (Part VI.1) requiring the cessation of coal use at 4 existing facilities and prohibit the use of coal to generate electricity at any other new stand-alone facility.
The proposed amending Bill would, if passed:
- Prohibit the use of coal at the Atikokan, Lambton, Nanticoke and Thunder Bay generating facilities after December 31, 2014.
- Send a clear signal that the use of coal at the existing electricity generating facilities is prohibited, by ensuring that the maximum fines in the Environmental Protection Act can be levied by a court for any breach of this prohibition.
- Prohibit the use of coal in any future stand-alone electricity generating facility, ensuring that burning coal for electricity generation at stand-alone facilities in Ontario remains a practice of the past.
- Clarify that coal-fired electricity-generation for other facilities (e.g. industrial facilities) does not apply to the following types of generation facilities:
- the generation is at a facility that produces a product other than electricity or steam, and electricity generation is not the primary purpose of the facility;
- the generation is from the use of heat, steam or by-product gas from a facility that produces a product other than electricity or steam where the generation of electricity is not the primary purpose of the facility.