On June 13th 2011, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand, announced the adoption of the new Clean Air Regulation (CAR) made under the Environment Quality Act, which came come into force on June 30th.  The CAR, first published in draft form almost six years ago, will replace the Regulation respecting the quality of atmosphere (RQA). Adopted in 1979, the RQA had escaped many modifications due to pressures from industry and, more recently in 2008, the fear of a recession. The Minister, following initiatives from North-Eastern states and from other provinces in Canada, thus decided to proceed with these new regulatory air quality requirements and standards. 

The CAR will affect the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors and, namely, some 200 large industries and 4500 small and medium enterprises in Québec. It should be noted though that the City of Montreal area is excluded from the CRA, since the City oversees the application of the Montreal Metropolitan Community air quality by-law. The Minister has indicated that efforts will be made to harmonize the by-law and the CRA.

The CAR tightens certain existing standards from the RQA, but also introduces new ones such as the following:

  • 90 toxic substances will be controlled by the CAR, including more than 80 new substances.
  • New standards and emission limit values will affect namely the aluminum, cement, steel and wood industries.  These standards will also cover activities such as the incineration of hazardous substances, the use of residual substances for energy generation and the industrial combustion of wood.
  • The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will face new general emission standards that will affect namely paint manufacturers, printing facilities, dry cleaners, petroleum refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants.
  • Certain facilities or activities, such as flour mills, distilleries, breweries and cement plants will be affected by more stringent limit values for their particulate emissions.
  • A number of industries will also have to be equipped with systems to continuously monitor their emissions for specific toxic substances and to report the results of compliance tests once or twice a year to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
  • The CAR creates new air measuring standards that will be applicable to new establishments or to establishments undergoing renovations only.
  • Transitory periods are provided for under the CRA to facilitate compliance.  Particulate emission standards, for example, will only apply as of June 2013, VOC emission standards as of June 2014 and between 2011 to 2016 for emission standards applicable to large emitters such as aluminum smelters, cement plants, steel plants, the wood industry, the asbestos industry, the lead industry, petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants as well as copper and zinc plants and incinerators.