The Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (the “Regulations“) came into force on June 17, 2016. The Regulations set national mandatory air pollutant emissions standards for major industrial facilities and aims to limit the amount of:

  • Nitrogen oxides emitted from new and existing gaseous-fuel-fired non-utility boilers and heaters;
  • Nitrogen oxides emitted from modern and pre-existing stationary spark-ignition gaseous-fuel-fired engines used by many industrial facilities; and
  • Nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emitted from cement kilns.

Prior to the Regulations, each province and territory governed their respective air pollutant emissions, resulting in varying standards across Canada. The Regulations have harmonized the approach to air quality management, creating one set of standards for all of Canada where all levels of government work collaboratively to respond to different air quality challenges across the country. Quebec is the only exception to this as it is governed by its Clean Air Regulation.

The Regulations are a key aspect of the federal government’s contribution to the implementation of the Air Quality Management System (the “AQMS“). The AQMS was introduced in 2012 by the Canadian Counsel of Ministers of the Environment to further protect the health of Canadians and the environment through addressing air pollution in Canada.

The Regulations apply to thousands of sources of air pollution across Canada. Specific regulated facilities that may be affected by the Regulations include:

  • Oil and gas facilities;
  • Oil sands facilities;
  • Potash facilities;
  • Chemicals facilities;
  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer facilities;
  • Power plants;
  • Cement manufacturing facilities;
  • Pulp and paper facilities;
  • Base metals facilities;
  • Aluminum facilities;
  • Iron, steel, and ilmenite facilities; and
  • Iron ore pelletizing facilities.

For boilers, different standards apply for pre-existing, transitional, redesigned and modern boilers, as defined. For pre-existing boilers, compliance is required by 2026 or 2036 depending on the existing boiler. However, modern boilers, transitional boilers, and redesigned boilers are required to comply much more quickly.

For engines, different rules also apply to modern and pre-existing engines. Requirements for pre-existing engines apply only to the oil and gas sector, as defined, but requirements for modern engines apply to all regulated sectors.