The new Regulation respecting mandatory reporting of certain emissions of contaminants into the atmosphere requires Quebec enterprises to henceforth report atmospheric releases of certain contaminants. It determines the reporting thresholds, the information that these enterprises will have to provide, as well as the parameters applicable to the assessment or calculation of the quantities of these contaminants.

This Regulation was adopted to ensure supervision of the quality of the environment in relation to phenomena that increase greenhouse effect, acid rain, urban smog and toxic pollution. The Regulation was thus designed with these air pollution issues in mind.

The Regulation applies to every person or municipality operating an enterprise, facility or establishment that emits one of the contaminants listed in Schedule A to the Regulation into the atmosphere in a quantity equal to or above the thresholds listed in the schedule. Schedule A covers three types of contaminants: 1) contaminants that cause toxic pollution, such as total fluorides, total reduced sulphur compounds and benzene-based compounds; 2) contaminants that cause increased greenhouse effect, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons; and 3) contaminants that cause acid rain and smog, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.

Every person subject to the Regulation must, no later than June 1 of each year, communicate to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks the quantity of each of the contaminants listed in Part I of Schedule A that the enterprise emitted into the atmosphere in the preceding calendar year.

The information must include any data pertaining to production, fuels used and raw materials relevant to the calculation or assessment of the quantities of contaminants emitted on an annual basis (this includes all fuels integral to a process or used to power equipment), and the emission factors used for the calculation or assessment.

If the operator of an enterprise, facility or establishment is required to report its emissions to the Minister of the Environment of Canada pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999), the operator must also transmit this same information to the Quebec Minister. To facilitate the task for these operators, the feasibility of using a common computer-based tool for both governments is currently being evaluated.

All data provided under the Regulation must be based on the best information the operator may reasonably be expected to have obtained by means of appropriate data processing. The information may be based on one of the methods of calculation or assessment listed in section 6 which are: emission source sampling, emission estimation model, calculation using emission factors published in scientific literature or documentation specific to the enterprise, mass balance or predictive emission monitoring.

All information so obtained must be retained for a minimum of 5 years from the date on which it was produced.

Finally, the Regulation establishes offences. Failure to communicate the prescribed information, or the provisions of false or inaccurate information, renders a person liable, for a first offence, to a fine of $2,000 to $12,000 in the case of an individual, and $5,000 to $25,000 in the case of a corporation, and in the case of subsequent offences, the fines are doubled.

According to the Notice of March 1, 2006 (Gazette officielle du Québec Vol. 138, No. 9, Part II) published by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, the impact of the Regulation on enterprises should be minimal, since for over 15 years the department has already been gathering, on a voluntary basis, various data used to calculate the main atmospheric contaminants emitted by a large number of enterprises.

It is also noteworthy that the law protects the confidentiality of certain information that reporting operators are asked to provide, such as data pertaining to production, fuels, raw materials, equipment and processes.

This new obligation to report should allow the Ministry to maintain an exhaustive inventory of atmospheric emissions and improve its knowledge of these emissions. The purpose of the Regulation is to allow the Quebec Government to better account for emissions in Quebec in light of the challenges being faced nationally and globally with respect to climate change, smog, acid rain and toxic air pollution.