Environmental, Health and Safety Update

Canada

Regulations proposed for emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and engines

Environment Canada recently proposed the Heavy-duty Vehicle and Engine Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations. These regulations, which will be aligned with U.S. standards, would establish mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines for 2014 and later model years. The regulations would apply to companies manufacturing and importing these vehicles and engines for the purpose of sale in Canada.

The proposed regulations would apply to the whole range of new on-road heavy-duty vehicles from full-size pickup trucks and vans to tractors and buses as well as freight, service, delivery, cement and dump trucks. The regulations would also include alternative mechanisms to achieve compliance, including a credit system in which regulated companies could buy credits from each other to achieve their GHG emissions standards.

For further information, please see the Canada Gazette.

Ontario

Province sets new geothermal drilling rules

On May 18, 2012, the Ontario government reported that, effective immediately, it would adopt new rules to regulate vertical closed loop drilling for geothermal energy systems. The province is requiring geothermal installers to

  • obtain provincial approval for vertical closed loop geothermal systems;
  • consult with a certified geoscientist or engineer before drilling; and
  • develop an emergency plan before drilling.


The Ministry of Environment (MOE) also plans to conduct inspections to ensure that installers are meeting safety standards.

The MOE will be consulting with industry stakeholders in the coming months on the new regulations. For further information, please see the MOE news release.

Summer safety blitz launched

On April 27, 2012, the Ontario government reported that it is launching a four-month safety blitz to inspect the working conditions for students’ summer jobs. Having begun on May 1, 2012, the safety blitz targets workplaces where new and young workers are employed. Health and safety inspectors from the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will check that employers comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act provisions regarding these workers. In particular, the blitz will ensure that young workers are protected by required safety measures, equipment and procedures, and that they meet minimum age requirements and are properly trained and supervised.

For further information, please see the MOL news release.


United States

Environmental Protection Agency issues new natural gas drilling regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued regulations governing emissions of air pollutants from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells. These regulations require natural gas producers to install new equipment to capture wellhead emissions on new or redrilled wells no later than January 15, 2015. Well operators will be required to flare their emissions until the new technology is installed. For further information, please see the EPA’s rule.


Climate Action Reserve begins accepting compliance offset projects for California’s cap-and-trade program

The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) has become the first carbon offset registry to accept submissions for voluntary GHG emission-reduction projects that are designed to qualify for credit under the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) GHG cap-and-trade system. CAR has begun accepting these submissions while it applies to CARB to become an accredited offset project registry. Project owners and developers can submit offset project documents to the CAR for review as a first step in ensuring that the project adheres to CARB’s approved offset protocols.

California’s cap-and-trade program implements a phased cap on statewide GHG emissions. Regulated entities can meet up to 8% of their compliance obligations using CARB-issued offset credits. For further information, please see the CAR news release.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

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