Articles related to environmental policy

Ottawa should leave the carbon-pricing regulations to the provinces, says CIAC

Ottawa to levy tax against polluting industries in non-compliant provinces under planned carbon-pricing regime

In response to the Liberal government tabling the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, Bob Masterson, President and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), told the Globe and Mail in an article published March 28 that Ottawa should let the provinces pursue their own approaches to carbon-pricing regulations.

As part of the 2018 omnibus budget bill, Ottawa is targeting industries in provinces that fail to adhere to federal standards for carbon pricing (New Brunswick and Saskatchewan) by forcing those emitters to reduce their greenhouse gases by 30 per cent or pay tax on emissions above that threshold. In January 2019, Ottawa will introduce the tax at $20 a tonne, and will reach $50 in 2022.

“We believe the federal carbon pricing backstop is important enough business of government that it should be debated on its own merits and not part of an omnibus budget bill,” Mr. Masterson told the Globe and Mail.

Although currently all petrochemical operations are in provinces that have their own carbon-pricing plans, the worry more broadly is if the standard is applied across the board, the carbon levy would render many of Canada’s refineries uncompetitive compared with U.S. and other foreign competitors.

“The chemistry sector is closely monitoring the federal plan and is committed to helping meet Canada’s and the world’s clean energy challenge,” Mr. Masterson told the Globe and Mail. “Investment is the key to Canada’s transition to a low carbon future and we need to ensure that our chemistry industry remains competitive to thrive and achieve those goals.”

Read the full Globe and Mail article (subscription required) Ottawa to levy tax against polluting industries in non-compliant provinces under planned carbon-pricing regime

CIAC supportive of Ontario’s move to modernize sulphur dioxide operating conditions

CIAC recently submitted recommendations in response to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) posting relating to air emissions of sulphur dioxide and transitional operating conditions. CIAC’s comments support the Ministry’s effort to modernize the Ambient Air Quality Criteria (AAQC)and Air Standards for SO2 and provide more clarification on requirements for assessing operating conditions in O. Reg. 419/05.

In its submission, CIAC notes that current SO2 standards are 40 years old and their update could greatly assist in creating an even cleaner environment.  CIAC pointed out that because of the Responsible Care® ethic, Ontario members have already made significant progress since 2004 in reducing their SO2 emissions by 84 per cent.

CIAC believes the ministry can proceed in a manner which achieves health and environment objectives and supports the ability and need to attract new investments and promote local cluster development.   CIAC member-companies in Ontario continue to be willing partners committed to working with local community stakeholders in achieving improved environmental outcomes on all fronts.

Read CIAC’s submission here.

CIAC engages government on proposed ocean waste and plastics initiative

During his high profile trip to Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada would bring forward the issue of ocean protection, “particularly around plastics and pollution”, at the next G7 leaders’ summit in June in Quebec. Later this year, Canada will also host a meeting of joint G7 Energy and Environment Ministers to establish a G7 Charter to address the issue of marine plastics litter.

CIAC will be working actively with counterparts in the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division to ensure the interests of plastic resin and plastic products producers are heard on the issue. Throughout, the organizations will promote waste management-centred approaches rather than product deselection and / or resin production curtailment policies.

CIAC and CPIA have submitted a letter to Ministers McKenna and Carr indicating the industry’s willingness to make constructive contributions to Canada’s G7 and domestic agendas for plastics management and reduction of marine plastics litter globally. 

Determining chemistry’s role in Canada’s low carbon future

“How can we reconcile our ambitions to grow Canada's chemistry sector at a time when the nation has made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030?”

That is the key question Bob Masterson, President and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) chose to answer in an upbeat presentation to the Alberta Industrial Heartland Stakeholder Conference in Edmonton on January 25. 

He emphasized that determining chemistry's vital role in Canada's low carbon energy future goes to the very heart of determining the future of the chemistry industry in Canada. 

Masterson noted that Canada's advantage includes the type of feedstock utilized – natural gas, for example, as opposed to other jurisdictions that make the same chemicals using coal as a feedstock – meaning that right from the beginning our chemistry industry is cleaner, more efficient and less carbon emitting.  In fact, Masterson pointed out recent recommendations for lowering GHG emissions of chemistry producers in Europe look a lot like what Canada already has in place. 

“What I want you to understand clearly and be able to communicate to others is that Canada is uniquely advantaged to respond to the growing global demand for innovative, low carbon products, while at the same time addressing the climate change challenge both in our own sector, as well as in others.”

Masterson concluded by noting that to grow and sustain Canada's low carbon chemistry sector, what is ultimately needed are more supportive policies that promote investment and growth in the sector. 

“When it comes to climate change, the world truly needs more, not less, good chemistry, and more not less, made-in-Canada chemistry.”

CIAC and CFA advise Minister Ballard on proposed Sarnia-Lambton health study

On November 28 and 29, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) and the Canadian Fuels Association (CFA) met key officials at Queen’s Park to reinforce their support for the Ontario government’s recent decision to fund a health study to determine the impact of the local petrochemical industry on the health of Sarnia-Lambton residents and of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

Meeting with Minister of Environment and Climate Change Chris Ballard and other officials, CIAC and CFA outlined four key points:

  1. Industry needs to be consulted and involved as the health study moves forward;
  2. The study must be responsive to the needs and expectations of the Sarnia-Lambton and Aamjiwnaang communities;
  3. It must be scientifically credible and build on the work previously undertaken by the Sarnia-Lambton Health Study team; and
  4. Efforts between the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change must be coordinated, as well as efforts between the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada. 

CIAC will be meeting with relevant officials in Ottawa prior to year-end to reinforce these messages at the federal level.

Uncertainty of federal Clean Fuel Standard problematic for industry

As part of Alberta Chemistry Day, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) hosted a panel on how the proposed federal Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) for industry could work within Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.  Dave Sawyer of EnviroEconomics and Bob Savage, Assistant Deputy Minister for Alberta Environment and Parks, shared concerns about the uncertainty for industry of the policy interactions of a federal CFS with provincial climate change programs.

The proposed CFS would be a first-of-its-kind globally as it would include fuels used in industry, buildings, and homes along with those used in transportation. Panelists commented that implementation will be complicated given the multiple layers of provincial and federal regulation already in place, and could lead to duplication of incentives and/or penalties for industry. 

One of the panelists suggested that consideration should be given to a phased-in approach to CFS for each sector starting initially with transportation. This would allow provincial-level regulatory frameworks to be established and to better understand their impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.  Going forward, greater transparency on the CFS development would also be important. 

CIAC member-companies expressed concerns that reducing the carbon intensity of feedstocks and some combustion fuels may be complex and may result in costly, if not prohibitive, modifications that might not lead to the most cost-effective carbon reductions. If not handled thoughtfully and transparently, a poorly designed CFS could affect profits, operations, and opportunities to invest and to modernize within Canada.

The chemistry industry is supportive of carbon pricing and remains committed to working with governments to develop effective long-term regulatory policies that successfully achieves GHG emissions reductions without impeding innovation, investments, jobs, and economic growth.

Minister of Natural Resources challenges CIAC to write the chapter on energy value-added processing for Canada’s energy strategy

Speaking to the CIAC Board of Directors on October 17, in Ottawa, the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, challenged CIAC and its members to contribute to Canada’s energy strategy by submitting the chapter on energy value-added processing.

“I understand the important role of chemistry in supporting the Canada’s energy transition. I don’t need to be convinced,” said the Minister. “What I do need is for this industry to help inform others and to tell us what the government can do to support investment and innovation in Canada’s chemistry sector.”   

“You play a vital role in the Canadian economy and your industry has world leading environmental practices,” he told the room. “The world is hungry for our resources. When I go to India and China and Japan, the only thing they want to talk about is imported Canadian liquid natural gas.”

Minister Carr spoke to the CIAC Board on the heels of the Generation Energy dialogue he hosted in Winnipeg, Manitoba the week prior. Attended by nearly 800 Canadians, the forum involved challenging discussions on the pace of transition to a low carbon economy in Canada and the role of conventional energy sources during that transition. 

Speaking on behalf of CIAC member-companies, CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson called on Minister Carr and his counterpart in Finance to be more engaged in the climate change policy and pricing discussions.

“Industry can accept that there is a need for an economic transformation to support Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy. What we can’t accept is that this transformation will be led by ministries of environment federally and provincially. To succeed, economically oriented departments such as finance, resources, and innovation are going to have to get much more engaged in the discussion if we’re to maintain competitiveness and attract investment opportunity,” Masterson said.  

Ontario chemistry industry welcomes comprehensive air quality study in Sarnia

The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) welcomes Minister Ballard’s announcement of a comprehensive air quality and health impacts study for the Sarnia community. The Association has always been a strong advocate of such studies with both the Ontario and federal governments.

“As Responsible Care® companies, CIAC members are firmly dedicated to the protection of human health and the environment,” said Bob Masterson, CIAC President and CEO. “We know that we are accountable to the public, especially local communities, who have the right to understand both the risks and benefits of what we do. We are also committed to dialogue and engagement with all stakeholders and recognize the Aamjiwnaang First Nation as a distinct component of the broader Sarnia community.”

Benzene and Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) emissions are of special concern to our industry, regulators, and the Sarnia community. CIAC Responsible Care member-companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Governments of Canada and Ontario in 1994 to reduce benzene emissions by 70 per cent before 2001. Not only were those targets achieved, but today benzene releases from our operations are 97 per cent below 1994 levels. Building on the success of that initiative, a similar MOU was established in 1997, calling for a 25 per cent reduction in VOC emissions by 2002. Today, our industry’s VOC emissions are 75 per cent lower than in 1997.

During recent months our industry has been a full participant in several productive regulatory processes led by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, with a particular focus on air quality issues in the Sarnia community.

“Despite past progress, we understand that public attention is often focused on the environmental performance of our industry,” added Masterson. “As has been the case for the past 30 years, we remain fully committed to continuous improvement in our performance and to productive engagement with all stakeholders.”

CIAC member-companies welcome the opportunity to support and fully participate in Minister Ballard’s proposed study.

Masterson at CERI Petrochemical Conference: “Canada’s federal and provincial governments need to row in the same direction.”

On June 6, Bob Masterson, CIAC president and CEO, gave the keynote address at the CERI Petrochemical Conference in Kananaskis, Alberta: “Rowing in the Same Direction – What’s Needed to Realize Petrochemical Investment in Canada.” He addressed concerns related to the changing nature of Canada-U.S. relations and the potential impact on Canadian industry. He also highlighted how industry and government can – and need – to work together for Canada to keep its place in the global economy. 

“The lack of new investment at a time of re-investment in the U.S., combined with policy choices in central Canadian provinces that have left investors and operators scratching their heads, makes for a highly uncertain future for Canada’s chemistry sector,” Masterson said. “If we are to succeed and float a credible plan, it is going to take unprecedented coordination between business and government, and between governments at all levels.”

At the conference, Dylan Jones, Deputy Minister, Western Economic Diversification Canada – who reports to Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Minister Navdeep Bains – suggested CIAC’s Ottawa advocacy campaign had caught the attention of government decision makers. The government is beginning to change how it views the chemistry sector and is willing to support the industry in the future because of CIAC’s advocacy efforts.

Key messages from the Deputy Minister included:

  • Chemistry is far from the only sector seeking subsidies or investment assistance, but providing that assistance is a role of government; 

  • Government needs sound data to make good decisions and industry and government need to work together on the interpretation of data; and, 
  • The government makes investments, sector comparisons and policy decisions on which sectors to fund/not fund.  

Masterson’s full speech is available here, and his presentation slides are available here.

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