OTTAWA: A recent US initiative to slash industrial greenhouse gas emissions won’t be adopted in Canada.
Even though the Canadian government has pledged to harmonize its climate policies with the Americans, newly minted Environment Minister John Baird said Canada won’t follow the new US rules for large industrial facilities.
Baird downplayed the US Environmental Protection Agency’s plans as “patchwork.”
“It’s very, very preliminary stuff on energy efficiency,” Baird said.
“Any national standards in the United States on energy efficiency in GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction, obviously, we would very seriously look at adopting—unless we’re doing something that’s better or higher in Canada.”
The EPA rules come into effect Jan. 2, 2010. They will require tougher emissions standards when air quality regulators issue permits to industry.
The first step tightens rules for existing facilities planning any expansion that would increase emissions. Starting in July, the rules will be extended to include newly-constructed facilities.
The EPA says its regulations target operations producing nearly 70 per cent of US greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.
The agency estimates the more stringent rules will require first-time permits for about 550 sources between 2011 and 2013. It also expects an additional 900 permits for new and modified projects each year.
Opponents to the rules have argued the initiative will stop new construction, hinder economic growth and kill jobs.
The Canadian government has said Canada must remain in lockstep with the US when it comes to climate policies, legislation and regulation.
It has argued that moving forward without the US would damage the Canadian economy, creating roadblocks for Canadian companies that American competition would not have to face.
The White House’s senior envoy to Canada has also recently expressed a preference for regulatory harmony.
Baird, who recently took over the environment portfolio from Jim Prentice, highlighted how Canada did align with the US earlier this year in proposing regulations to reduce tailpipe emissions.
He said Canada went even further than the Americans when it announced a plan to phase out conventional coal-fired electricity.
But when it comes to the new US initiative, Baird insists more work needs to be done before Canada gets on board.
The minister said he would rather fight for something more comprehensive that targets pollution from existing large emitters.
Baird also noted that Texas, the largest greenhouse-gas producer in the US has refused to meet the federal guidelines.
“These aren’t national standards,” said Baird, who will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference this week in Cancun, Mexico.
“Obviously, we can’t have a patchwork of systems, we’ve got to have national.”
© The Canadian Press