Top EHS Updates–January 2018

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Top EHS Updates

 

United States

1. Confidentiality claims to be restricted for hazardous waste import/export documents

The Environmental Protection Agency is modifying the hazardous waste import-export regulations such that no person will be able to use a confidential business information claim for documents relating to the import, export, and transit of hazardous waste or the export of excluded cathode ray tubes.

This is effective on June 26, 2018.

2. Comments sought on greenhouse gas emission limits for electric generating units

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments regarding guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions from electric generating units, and the role both the state and the federal government should play in this regulation.

Comments must be received on or before February 26, 2018.

3. Comments sought on recommendations for state ozone designations

Input is being sought from the public in a matter related to area designations based on ozone content in the air; these designations affect permitting requirements for sources of air pollution.

In more detail, states and tribal areas recommended ozone designations within their jurisdictions; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued letters to the states either agreeing with those recommendations or indicating that the EPA intends to adjust the areas’ boundaries. Interested parties are invited to review and provide input on the EPA’s intended designations until February 5, 2018.

4. Comments sought on process for developing energy conservation standards for appliances

The Department of Energy is seeking comments on potential modifications to the process by which they develop appliance standards, the aim being to reduce burdens faced by corporations as further regulations and standards are developed.

Comments are requested on or before February 16, 2018.

5. Implementation of railroad employee training and qualification rules may be delayed

The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed to delay implementation dates for requirements related to training programs and employee qualifications for safety-related railroad employees for an additional year.

Comments on this proposal must be received by January 19, 2018.

Canada

Alberta

1. More rigour added to rules for industrial carbon emissions

Alberta’s rules regulating emissions of greenhouse gases from large industrial emitters recently changed to expand the list of covered gases, set emission limits by sector and tighten those limits annually, and add more conditions on the use of carbon credits and offsets.

Notably, the changes

  • Expand the availability of the opt-in program to facilities that have greater than 50,000 tonnes of annual emissions and high emissions intensity and trade exposure, as defined in the rules;
  • Establish benchmarks that apply to all competitors in the same industry, in place of facility-specific emission reduction requirements;
  • Cap emitters’ ability to use emission offsets and emission performance credits and introduce expiry dates for these offsets and credits;
  • Expand the list of specified gases covered by the rules; and
  • Require regulated facilities with emissions of at least one megatonne to submit quarterly compliance reports and add annual emissions forecasts to their annual reports.

These changes were put in place by repealing the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation and replacing it with the Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation. The changes came into force on January 1, 2018.

Ontario

1. Changes to greenhouse gas emissions trading and reporting rules link jurisdictions, allow offset credits

Ontario’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cap and trade rules have changed to facilitate linkage and integration of Ontario’s cap and trade program with Quebec and California and to enable offset credits to be used.

Ontario’s cap and trade program sets a limit on GHG emissions that decreases over time. Companies that exceed this limit must have enough credits to cover their emissions; credits may be bought or sold (traded). “Offset credits” may be claimed for initiatives that avoid or reduce GHG emissions, such as tree-planting projects, to meet up to eight percent of a facility’s compliance obligations.

Changes have been made to the cap and trade program rules to provide for linking, set caps for 2021-2030, and make other amendments to ensure compliance, maintain market integrity, and improve data reliability and program efficiency. Notably, these changes

  • Require submission of verification reports;
  • Recognize compliance instruments from California and Quebec for use in Ontario;
  • Allow joint auctions of emission allowances to be held with California and Quebec;
  • Adjust holding and purchase limits for allowances and credits;
  • Extend requirements for related persons (e.g., persons with common account representatives who are employees) to share holding and purchase limits to include related persons in California and Quebec;
  • Allow some entities to register in multiple jurisdictions;
  • Change rules related to voluntary participant registration and free allowances;
  • Add rules that prescribe how documents can be given or served; and
  • Establish a framework for issuing administrative penalties for non-compliance.

In addition, offset credit rules have been created that outline the overall process, criteria, and administrative requirements involved in creating offset credits that can be used to meet cap and trade program compliance obligations.

These changes, which are now in force, have been put in place by amending Quantification, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, The Cap and Trade Program, and the Guideline for Quantification, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and creating three new regulations: Administrative Penalties, Service of Documents, and Ontario Offset Credits.

2. Used tire management may soon shift from stewardship to extended producer responsibility model

Ontario is in the process of transitioning from a product stewardship model to an extended producer responsibility model for end-of-life product management. As part of this change, the government has proposed to wind up Ontario’s existing waste diversion program for used tires and transition to a framework under which tire producers are responsible for collection and end-of-life management of tires and for recovering resources and reducing waste associated with their tires.

Under this framework, tire producers may include those resident in Ontario who market tires or a vehicle on which tires are provided, but may also include importers, distributors, and retailers of these tires and vehicles. Out-of-province producers who market tires or vehicles to Ontario consumers through the internet may also be regulated. Notably, producers would be required to

  • Provide a collection network (for example, collection sites that accept returned tires for free).
  • Recover 85% of the materials from tires collected through their collection network. This recovery could take the form of reuse, retreading, or processing to make new products.
  • Increase recovery rates by providing promotion and education to consumers.

Additional promotion and education requirements would apply to tire retailers; tire producers, collectors, haulers, and processors would have to meet new registration, recordkeeping, reporting, and auditing requirements.

These new requirements would be put in place by means of a new regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act. Comments on the proposal must be submitted by January 22, 2018.

Quebec

1. Proposed measures in environmental impact assessment and review process

New requirements in environmental impact assessment and review may soon be in force.

In particular, the changes would:

  • Provide details on deadlines and other terms applicable to an environmental impact assessment and review process;
  • Update criteria for projects subjected to the environmental impact assessment and review process according to the environmental risk;
  • Clarify and modernize the content of a project notice and an environmental impact study;
  • Delineate the new stages of public consultation.

These changes would replace the Regulation respecting environmental impact assessment and review. Interested persons can comment on the proposed changes by February 11 2018

 

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