The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is proposing regulatory changes to help Ontario’s cement, lime, iron and steel sectors take advantage of opportunities to reduce the use of coal and petroleum coke by switching to alternative low-carbon fuels. These energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries produce the vital raw materials that fuel Ontario’s economy – the concrete and steel used by Ontario’s construction and manufacturing industries.
Now that coal has been phased out of electricity generation, these industries are the largest users of coal in the province and accounted for approximately 12% of greenhouse gas emissions in the province in 2012.
The Ministry previously posted a regulatory proposal for public consultation on the Environmental Registry and Regulatory Registry in April 2014, outlining a proposed new environmental approval process to better enable the use of alternative low-carbon fuels by these energy-intensive manufacturers as a cost-effective way to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Alternative low-carbon fuels include materials such as biomass (e.g. corn stover) or residual waste that would otherwise be disposed of as waste in landfills (e.g. certain non-hazardous residual waste that remains after recyclables are separated out).
As a result of comments received with respect to the regulatory proposal previously posted (see link under Additional Information), the Ministry has decided, at this time, to consult on the proposed regulations.
Currently, the industries that want to use these alternative low-carbon fuels are regulated under Ontario legislation as waste disposal sites, in addition to requirements that they must meet to protect air and water quality – even though they are not in the waste management business. Ontario has an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping large energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries take advantage of opportunities to use alternative low-carbon fuels for energy in their manufacturing processes and maintain their competitiveness with other jurisdictions where regulatory frameworks are in place for alternative fuels.
A regulation proposed to be made under the Environmental Protection Act would exempt energy-intensive manufacturing facilities in the cement, lime and iron and steel sectors from requiring a ‘waste disposal site’ Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) if they are using alternative low-carbon fuel in place of coal or petroleum coke. Sites exempt from ‘waste disposal site’ ECA approval would not be subject to requirements under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA). The regulation would require proponents first to publicly consult on the potential environmental impacts of any proposed on-going use of alternative low-carbon fuel before applying to the Ministry for an ECA. In addition, the regulation would further facilitate alternative low-carbon fuel demonstration projects.
Facilities taking advantage of the opportunity to use alternative low-carbon fuels at their operations would still be required to obtain and comply with Environmental Compliance Approvals in respect of section 9 activities under the EPA (air emission) and section 53 of the Ontario Water Resources Act (wastewater activities). Ontario has a well-established regulatory framework for addressing industrial air emissions that includes Ontario Regulation 419/05 (Air Pollution – Local Air Quality) and Ontario Regulation 194/05 (Emissions Trading for Industry – Nitrogen Oxides and Sulphur Dioxides). The ministry can apply additional requirements from Guideline A-7 (Air Pollution Control, Design and Operation Guidelines for Municipal Waste Thermal Treatment Facilities) in an Environmental Compliance Approval when waste-derived materials are used as a fuel. Guideline A-7 contains additional more stringent air emission requirements for some contaminants.
Persons engaged in the transportation of the fuels would still require an ECA or a registration in the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). Proponents would need to demonstrate that the new regulation’s requirements had been met before an ECA application would be considered by the Ministry. In addition, ECAs for on-going use of alternative low-carbon fuel would now also be subject to the public notification requirements and third-party appeal provisions of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR).
An accompanying regulation, proposed to be made to amend Ontario Regulation 681/94 under the EBR, would maintain the current process of exempting demonstration projects from public consultation requirements of the EBR and third-party appeal provisions.
This proposal was posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting December 04, 2014. Comments were to be received by February 02, 2015.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.