Global Regulatory Updates February-March 2018

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Non-attainment areas given air quality thresholds and set time to reach attainment

The Environmental Protection Agency has established air quality thresholds that define classifications for areas designated nonattainment for the 2015 ozone national ambient air quality standards. Furthermore, deadlines have been specified for each nonattainment area to achieve attainment.

While this action directly affects state, local, and tribal governments, owners and operators of sources of emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides could be indirectly affected.

This is effective on May 8, 2018. More information is available here.

New fees proposed for chemical substance manufacturers, importers, processors, and distributors

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed fees for certain entities subject to the Toxic Substances Control (TSCA) rules for chemical substances.

According to the Federal Register, these fees would apply to “any person required to submit information to EPA under the TSCA section 4 or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by the Administrator under TSCA section 5, or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation under TSCA section 6(b)”. “[L]ong standing user fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices” would also be amended. The end result would be fees that certain manufacturers and processors would have to pay “for each notice, exemption application and data set submitted or chemical substance subject to a risk evaluation”. Standards are also being proposed for determining who qualifies as a small business concern and therefore would be subject to lower fees.

The fees proposed cover fiscal year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018, as well as fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Comments must be received on or before April 27, 2018. More information is available here.

Comments sought on regulation of pollutant discharges to surface-connected groundwater

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments related to whether wastewater discharge permits should be used to regulate discharges of pollutants from point sources that reach surface waters by travelling through groundwater or another form of subsurface flow.

Comments must be received on or before May 21, 2018. More information is available here.

Future applicability date set for “waters of the United States” definition

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) have rescinded the current 2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” a term that sets the scope of the water bodies that are protected under Water Pollution Prevention and Control. In the interim, while the agencies aim to redefine “waters of the United States,” the text that was in place prior to 2015 (the 1986/1988 Regulatory Definition) will be used to provide regulatory continuity.

A future applicability date of February 6, 2020 has now been specified for the current 2015 definition of “waters of the United States”, meaning that the 1986/1988 Regulatory Definition will be used until February 6, 2020 at a minimum. More information is available here.

Comment period extended for process for developing energy conservation standards for appliances 

The Department of Energy has extended the comment period for feedback and thoughts on potential modifications to the process by which they develop appliance standards. The aim, as previously set out, is to reduce burdens faced by corporations as further regulations and standards are developed.

The comment deadline has been extended from February 16, 2018 to March 2, 2018. More information is available here.

Additional monitoring requirements waived for pressure relief devices

The Environmental Protection Agency has amended the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for off-site waste recovery operations by removing additional monitoring requirements for pressure relief devices on containers. The conclusion reached is that the inspection and monitoring requirements for containers and their closure devices are sufficient.

This is effective on January 29, 2018. More information is available here.

 

Michigan

 

New rules in place for walking-working surfaces and fall protection

Workers from various industries, excluding those from construction, agricultural, and maritime sectors, should be aware that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has adopted new conditions related to walking-working surfaces (such as floors, aisles, stairways, runways, ladders, elevated platforms, roofs, and scaffolds) and personal fall protection.

The federal standards that Michigan follow have changed. The State adopted these changes by updating, clarifying, renaming, and restructuring its current rules.

Most of these changes are in force except for:

  • Provisions regarding workers training on fall and equipment hazards that come into force on June 4, 2018,
  • Testing and certifying anchorages requirements for rope descent systems that come into force on December 5, 2018,
  • Fall protection equipment conditions regarding existing and new fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet above a lower level that come into force on November 19, 2018, and
  • Conditions regarding cages and wells replacement on all fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet above a lower level come into force on November 18, 2036.

More information is available hereherehere, and here.

 

Washington

 

New limits and fees among changes to rural water rules

Residential landowners and other interested parties should be aware of new conditions related to water availability for rural development. The new rules were implemented in response to a 2016 state ruling (the “Hirst decision”) that affected water access and governance throughout Washington State.

Notably, the new rules temporarily allow a maximum of 950 or 3,000 gallons per day for domestic water use (depending on the watershed), and temporarily establish a one-time $500 fee for landowners building a home using a permit-exempt well.

The new conditions came into force on January 19, 2018.

More information is available here and here.

 

Canada

 

New performance standards proposed for coal-fired and natural-gas-fired electricity units

As part of a National Climate Change Action Plan, new emission limits are being proposed for electricity units fuelled by coal, coal derivatives, and petroleum coke, and for new and converted natural gas-fired electricity units.

The changes would be put in place by amending the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations  and by creating a new regulation under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Regulations Limiting Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Natural Gas-fired Generation of Electricity.

The proposed amendments would notably require new and existing coal-fire units to emit no more than 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide per gigawatt hour of electricity by December 31, 2029, unless a carbon capture and storage system is to be constructed.

The changes brought by the new Regulations would

  • Add CO2 emission intensity-based limits for new and significantly modified combustion engines, for new natural gas boiler units, and for coal boilers significantly modified to burn natural gas to generate electricity,
  • Add new annual reporting obligations for owners or operators of new or converted natural gas-fired units, and allow units to operate above the emission limits during emergency circumstances.

Industry stakeholders and interested parties are invited to provide comments by April 18, 2018. More information is available herehereherehere and here.

Changes proposed to enhance Protections for Fish and their Habitat

Amendments have been proposed to the Fisheries Act to modernise protection mechanisms for fish and their habitats.

In particular, the changes would:

  • Strengthen the role of indigenous peoples in project reviews, monitoring and policy development;
  • Include social, economic and cultural factors in the decision-making;
  • Implement long-term area-based restrictions on fishing activities to protect marine biodiversity;
  • Prohibit fishing cetaceans with intent to take them into captivity;
  • Implement new fishery management tools to enhance the protection of fish and their ecosystems;
  • Provide clarity on which types of projects require authorizations through permitting and codes of practice.

These amendments have been proposed by means of a bill called “An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence”, which at the time of publication of this notice had passed the first reading stage. For more information, please click herehere and here.

Changes proposed to the federal environmental impact assessment system

Amendments regarding the federal impact assessment system are being proposed.

In particular, the changes would:

  • Create a single agency responsible for assessments of all project;
  • Revise the Designated projects list to include projects such as potash mines, large-scale wind power facilities and in-situ oil sands facilities;
  • Reduce and standardize time limits for federal review of new projects, from 365 to a maximum of 300 days for assessments led by the Agency, and from 720 to a maximum of 600 days for assessments led by a review panel;
  • Introduce new factors to consider in an impact assessment including interests and concerns of the Indigenous peoples, climate change, gender and identity issues.
  • Establish an earlier public participation and more openness by removing the criterias to participate as part of the assessment process;
  • Expand the definition of ‘navigable waters’ to include waters used, or have a reasonable likelihood of being used, by vessels as a means of transport or travel for commercial purposes, recreational purposes or by Indigenous peoples of Canada.

These changes would be put in place by replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 for the Impact Assessment Act, by replacing the National Energy Board Act for Canadian Energy Regulator Act and by amending Navigation Protection Act.

These amendments have been proposed by means of a bill called “An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts”, which at the time of publication of this notice had passed the first reading stage. For more information, please click hereherehere and here.

 

Alberta

 

Input requested on rules related to workplace violence and harassment, joint committees

Before significant changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation come into effect in June 2018, the Alberta government is seeking input into the development of specific rules related to those changes.

In particular, the government is requesting feedback on the development of rules under the new Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding

  • Workplace harassment and violence; and
  • Functions and training for joint work site health and safety committees.

Submissions can be provided until April 9, 2018. More information is available here and here.

 

British Columbia

 

Public input invited on proposed changes to spill response rules

Following up on changes to spill management rules under the Environmental Management Act that were announced in 2017, the B.C. government is soliciting input from interested parties and the public on a second phase of changes to spill regulations.

According to the B.C. government, it is seeking feedback in the following areas:

  • “Response times, which ensure timely responses following a spill;
  • “Geographic response plans, which ensure resources are available to support an immediate response, which consider the unique characteristics of a given sensitive area;
  • “Compensation for loss of public use from spills, including economic, cultural and recreational impacts; and
  • “Maximizing application of regulations to marine spills.”

Comments can be submitted until April 30, 2018. More information is available here and here.

Input requested on proposed changes to rules for worker protection and for concrete falsework and formwork

Feedback is being sought on proposed changes to worker health and safety rules related to safety headgear, eye and face protection, and concrete formwork and falsework.

According to WorkSafeBC, these changes, which would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, would notably

  • Update references to standards for safety headgear and eye protection;
  • Clarify and expand upon requirements for eye and face protection; and
  • “[C]larify the responsibilities of employers and professional engineers” in ensuring “the safe erection, use and dismantling of concrete formwork, falsework and reshoring.”

Comments on the proposed changes will be accepted until May 3, 2018. More information is available here.

 

Manitoba

 

Changes proposed to rules for recreational vehicles and manufactured homes

As part of an initiative to modernize and streamline its regulatory framework, the Manitoba government will be updating its rules for factory built homes and recreational vehicles (RVs).

Notably, the changes would

  • Update standards for RVs and manufactured homes,
  • Remove permit and inspection requirements for the sale of used mobile homes,
  • Remove the requirement for a dealer to get a permit, and
  • Have a used RV inspected by a provincial regulator before it can be sold.

These changes would be put in place by amending The Buildings and Mobile Homes Act and by regulating RVs separately in a new regulation under The Technical Safety Act, which has not yet been proclaimed in force. More information is available here.

 

New Brunswick

 

New carbon pricing measures introduced in New Brunswick

A carbon pricing mechanism may soon be implemented, requiring industrial facilities emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually to meet the federal performance standards beginning in 2018.

These amendments have been proposed by means of a bill called “Climate Change Act”, which at the time of publication of this notice had passed the third reading. For more information, please click here and here.

 

Ontario

 

Input requested on worker exposure to hazardous biological or chemical agents

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is seeking comments on proposed changes to limits, calculations, and listings for exposure of workers to hazardous biological or chemical agents.

The changes that are proposed include

  • Changes to occupational exposure limits (OELs) or listings for 38 substances based on changes recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists for 2016 and 2017;
  • Providing for the use of Quebec’s Institut de recherche Robert Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail model for adjusting exposure standards for irregular work shifts;
  • Introducing a new listing and OEL for diesel particulate matter; and
  • Adding substitution of hazardous substances with those that are less hazardous as a method that employers must consider to protect workers from exposure.

Comments on the changes, which would amend Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents, Designated Substances, and Mines and Mining Plants, are due on May 4, 2018. More information is available here.

Input requested on potential changes to rules protecting employees from workplace hazards

Rules requiring employers to protect the health and safety of workers in “industrial establishments”, which include office buildings, factories, arenas, shops, and logging operations, may soon change.

According to Ontario’s Regulatory Registry, the proposed changes would

  • “Update existing requirements regarding guardrails, fall protection, protection against drowning, signallers, eyewash fountains and deluge showers to reflect current workplace practices, processes and technologies;
  • “Add new requirements for risk assessments and traffic management programs that are similar to recent amendments to…Mines and Mining Plants;
  • “Add new requirements for scaffolds and suspended access equipment, similar to existing requirements currently set out in…Construction Projects;
  • “Add new, specific requirements for storage racks and for high visibility safety apparel for signallers to improve worker health and safety and to improve clarity and transparency regarding compliance expectations; and
  • “Make additional amendments for clarification and to increase alignment between…regulations.”

Comments on the proposed changes, which would amend the Industrial Establishments regulation, are due April 6, 2018. More information is available here and here.

 

P.E.I

 

New protections coming for water resources and related ecosystems

New water protection rules may soon be in force in Prince Edward Island. These rules, which will take effect on a date yet to be announced by creating a new law called the Water Act and amending existing laws including the Environmental Protection Act and Pesticides Control Act, will notably

  • Consolidate provisions related to approvals for water withdrawals and place more restrictions on those approvals;
  • Prohibit the storage or transportation of groundwater, surface water, or water obtained from a water supply system for the purpose of removal from the province (with certain exceptions);
  • Create an approval process for wastewater discharges;
  • Prohibit hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas;
  • Prohibit the unauthorized discharge of contaminants into a watercourse, wetland, or groundwater, and require notification and confinement or cleanup of such a discharge; and
  • Allow the government to designate water management areas.

More information is available here and here.

 

Quebec

 

New standards and requirements proposed for gas installations

The public has been invited to comment on the proposed changes to the draft regulations modifying Chapter II, Gas, of the Construction Code and Chapter III Gas of the Safety Code.

In particular, the changes aim to

  • Update the standards and codes adopted by reference and remove the years of publication;
  • Adopt CSA B149.3 “On-site approval code for fuel components for appliances and appliances” and its annex D;
  • Adopt Appendix D “LNG Vehicle Fueling Centers” of CSA Z276 “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Production, Storage and Handling”; and
  • Enhance the safety of gas installations.

Comments must be submitted before April 7, 2018. For more information, please click herehere, and here.

More changes proposed to environmental authorization process

As a follow-up to significant changes to the environmental authorization process that came into force at the end of 2017, the public has been invited to comment on additional changes proposed for the next phase of the updates to the authorization process.

At the heart of these proposed changes is a simplification to the authorization process, with new considerations for environmental issues including climate change. This would be put in place by replacing the Regulation respecting the application of the Environment Quality Act with a new Regulation respecting ministerial authorizations and declarations of compliance in environmental matters, and would notably

  • Expand the list of activities that require a declaration of compliance or a notice of cessation of activities; and
  • Set out requirements for the three categories of projects that were established at the end of 2017, the conditions under which a “climate test” is required, and the information needed in a notice of cessation of activities.

Changes are also proposed to the following regulations to harmonize their requirements with those of the Authorizations Regulation and the updated authorization process:

  • Regulation respecting biomedical waste;
  • Regulation respecting pulp and paper mills;
  • Regulation respecting snow elimination sites;
  • Regulation respecting used tire storage;
  • Land Protection and Rehabilitation Regulation;
  • Clean Air Regulation;
  • Regulation respecting the burial of contaminated soils;
  • Regulation respecting contaminated soil storage and contaminated soil transfer stations; and
  • Regulation respecting the landfilling and incineration of residual materials.

The scope of activities regulated by the new authorization regime would also be expanded. This would in particular be put in place by:

  • Amending the Regulation respecting industrial de-pollution attestations; and
  • Adding the draft Fertilizing Residuals Regulation and Regulation respecting the extension of a stormwater management system eligible for a declaration of compliance.

The following changes are also proposed:

  • Change requirements in the Regulation respecting municipal wastewater treatment works related to discharge notification, operator certification, and toxicity testing, and add requirements related to diversion of partially treated wastewater;
  • Add new requirements for managing hazardous materials on-site after an accidental release by amending the Regulation respecting hazardous materials;
  • Expand the list of activities regulated by the Agricultural Operations Regulation and make technical amendments related to livestock facilities and composting;
  • Clarify provisions related to establishment or alteration of waterworks or sewer systems by repealing the Regulation respecting the application of section 32 of the Environment Quality Act and replacing it with the draft Regulation respecting work related to a water management or treatment facility;
  • Reduce certain requirements, and change criteria for water withdrawal categories, in the Water Withdrawal and Protection Regulation;
  • Add requirements for sand pits and quarries related to matters including noise management, blasting, and location standards, and harmonize requirements with those of the Authorizations Regulation and the updated authorization process, by repealing the Regulation respecting pits and quarries and replacing it with the draft Regulation respecting sand pits and quarries; and
  • Add provisions related to setting and contesting rates and suspending service by repealing the Regulation respecting waterworks and sewer services and replacing it with the draft Regulation respecting private waterworks and sewer services.

Transitional rules are also proposed in the Regulation respecting certain transitional measures to carry out the Act to amend the Environment Quality Act to modernize the environmental authorization scheme and to amend other legislative provisions, in particular to reform the governance of the Green Fund; this regulation and the Regulation respecting private waterworks and sewer services would come into force on March 23, 2018. The other changes described above are expected to come into force on December 1, 2018; comments on these changes must be submitted on or before April 16, 2018. More information is available herehere (in French only), here (in French only), and here.

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

 

Changes proposed to public health rules

As part of an initiative to modernize Newfoundland and Labrador’s public health rules, current legislation applicable to public health will be reviewed.

Notably, the changes aim to add provisions regarding the international spread of disease, chronic disease (such as diabetes), and climate change impact on public health.

The changes might affect the Health and Community Services Act and the Sanitation Regulations.

More information is available here and here.

Penalties increased for highway violations

Highway vehicle drivers and other interested parties should be aware of new offences and higher fines related to road safety.

The changes are put in place via the Highway Traffic Act, and in particular

  • Increase fines for driving without due care and add a new offence thereof for causing death and bodily harm to another person,
  • Add new conditions, higher fines, and a new licence suspension penalty related to excessive speeding,
  • Add new penalties for racing and stunting, such as licence suspension and vehicle impoundment,
  • Strengthen speed limits and liability provisions related to requirements for approaching an emergency or designated vehicle,
  • Add new proof of insurance conditions, and
  • Add a process for appeals to the Registrar for 90-day impaired driving suspensions.

The changes regarding the new appeal procedure for certain licence suspension are in force. The rest of the changes come into force on June 7, 2018. More information is available here and here.