Ontario simplifies approval process surrounding air contaminant emissions

Environmental Alert

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) filed the first regulation in Ontario of 2017: Ontario Regulation 1/17 (the “Regulation”). The Regulation simplifies the approval process for certain activities which have the potential to emit contaminants to the atmosphere; namely, air contaminants, noise, odour, fugitive dust and other activity requirements which would have needed full environmental compliance approvals, or would have been part of an undertaking requiring approval under the Environmental Assessment Act or an activity requiring a development permit under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.

The Regulation accomplishes this by making those activities subject to Part II.2 of the Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”), which establishes the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (“EASR”) and allows persons to register activities prescribed, in this case, by the Regulation under the EASR instead of following any of the lengthy, expensive and complicated approval processes described above.

Air

The Regulation prescribes the matters which can be registered and exempts a long list of matters from this simplified process. It goes on to set out the requirements for an acceptable registration of activities which have the potential of emitting air contaminants and particularly requires that an Emission Summary and Dispersion Modelling (“ESDM”) report be prepared. The requirements of that ESDM report are set out in the Regulation.

Noise, odour, fugitive dust and other activity requirements

Similarly, the Regulation sets out those facilities with the potential to emit noise, odour, fugitive dust emissions and other activities with potential minor air emissions which are subject to the Regulation. In each case the requirements for these facilities to be approved by the EASR are set out.

Summary

In short, the Regulation simplifies the approval process for certain activities, set out in the Regulation, which have the potential of emitting contaminants to the atmosphere and which would have required full approvals. The MOECC has taken this approach with respect to certain waste management activities already. The major waste management activities and the major sources of potential emissions to the atmosphere are exempted and will still require full approvals; however, the Regulation extends the simplified approach to approving less significant potential emission sources by way of the EASR.

The Regulation comes into force on January 31, 2017.