Toronto, ON – We support the province’s goal to help energy intensive industries reduce their reliance on coal, as described in a regulation posted to the environmental registry today.
Ontario’s phase out of coal-fired electricity generation is the single largest greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiative in North America. However, coal is still used as a fuel in the manufacture of steel, lime and cement – materials that we use to build our cities, transit systems, and other modern infrastructure.
Today’s posting aims to reduce emissions from these industries and when implemented will be an important step in Ontario’s journey to a low carbon economy.
The draft regulation will allow these industries to replace coal with non-recyclable waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. It is specific to industries that use coal in the manufacture of a product, and will not permit the burning of waste to produce energy in other applications. The use of these alternative fuels in industrial applications will be highly restricted due to the requirements of processes used to manufacture the products and the engineering specifications on the final products.
While we support the goal of the regulation, there are aspects of it that require further refinement in order for it to be effective.
Materials that can be recycled must not be permitted to be used as fuels in these facilities. Only materials for which recycling is not possible or feasible should be permitted as fuels. Furthermore, should new technology or new markets become established that affect which materials can be recycled, permits should be amended accordingly.
The regulation needs to ensure that there are no negative impacts on air quality and human health as a result of fuel switching. We cannot trade off reduced carbon emissions for increased toxic emissions. Facilities wishing to make use of this regulation should be subject to stricter emissions standards and required to report their emissions more frequently.
Public consultation is key. The draft regulation proposes that demonstration projects would not require public consultation. This must be amended, and communities, especially those that share the airsheds with these facilities, need to be included in the conversation at the outset.
The successful completion and implementation of this regulation represents an opportunity to reduce emissions in a way that helps maintain jobs and economic activity in Ontario while protecting public health and contributing to Ontario’s efforts to build a low carbon economy.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
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Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 258; 416-570-2878 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org