This consultation was open from:
September 28, 2018
to October 28, 2018
We are proposing to make changes to the Drive Clean Program by winding down light duty vehicle emissions testing requirements and shifting focus to testing of heavy duty vehicles.
We are seeking public comments on this proposal including:
- winding down the light duty vehicle emissions testing requirements
- redesigning the heavy duty vehicle emissions testing program
- strengthening the on-road enforcement of emissions standards for both light and heavy duty vehicles
While Drive Clean was efficient at reducing emissions, industry standards have significantly improved since the program was created in 1999. The result is a steady decrease of passenger cars that fail emissions tests. Redesigning the Drive Clean program will allow for a more efficient use of public funds by targeting the biggest polluters on Ontario’s roads. The changes will focus resources in a way to ensure the program continues to protect the province’s air quality which in turn will benefit the heath of all Ontarians.
1. Winding down the light duty vehicle emissions testing requirements
The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is ending the requirement for light duty vehicle owners to obtain an emissions test prior to vehicle registration renewal as of April 1, 2019.
Drive Clean’s testing of light duty vehicles was effective at reducing vehicle pollution, however industry standards have significantly improved since the program was created in 1999. The retirement of older vehicles, the introduction of vehicles with cleaner emissions control technologies and fuel improvements were significant contributing factors that helped reduce emissions from light duty vehicles. We have found a steady decrease in the number of passenger cars that fail the emissions test from 16% in 1999 down to 5% in 2017 as well as a declining impact on air quality and smog.
The Auditor General of Ontario has also commented in the past to the effectiveness on the light duty program.
The ministry still requires that motorists maintain their vehicle's emission control systems and will support this through improved on-road enforcement of all vehicles on Ontario's roads.
2. Redesigning the heavy duty vehicle emissions testing program
We are also proposing changes to heavy duty vehicle testing to target heavy duty diesel vehicles such as commercial transport trucks while ensuring that Ontario continues to lead Canada in reducing harmful smog-causing pollutants.
Key proposed program design changes for the heavy-duty vehicle emissions testing include:
- a mandatory test of a vehicle’s on board diagnostic (OBD) computer based emissions controls. OBD testing is the right test for today’s highly computerized heavy duty vehicles because it relies on vehicles’ own computer systems to assess the state of their emissions systems. This test will be included as part of the emissions test, alongside the current smoke meter opacity test.
- reviewing the appropriate vehicle test age and test frequency. Currently vehicles seven years and older are tested annually. Heavy duty vehicles are driven longer distances and subject to more wear and tear, which could result in higher emissions if poorly maintained.
- reviewing the test standard for visible emissions opacity. The current opacity test standard for newer vehicles is 30%. Vehicles achieving 20% visible smoke density are currently allowed to skip a test cycle. The standard and exemption should be reviewed to assess its applicability for all heavy duty vehicles.
- increased enforcement of existing anti-tampering restrictions with regard to emission control systems that are in current regulations.
- providing incentives to industry who consistently demonstrate cleaner fleets.
The heavy duty program design will also look at ways to reduce costs to taxpayers.
3. Strengthening the on-road enforcement of emissions standards for both light and heavy duty vehicles
Key proposed program design changes for the stronger on-road enforcement of emissions standards include:
- strengthen on-road enforcement of both light and heavy duty vehicles on Ontario's highways to ensure domestic and out-of-province vehicles are not polluting
- strengthen anti-tampering restrictions with regard to emission control systems
Purpose of the proposal
The direct objectives of the proposed changes to the program are to ensure:
- protection of Ontario’s air quality
- an effective program that provides value for taxpayers
- reduced human exposure to dangerous diesel emissions, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons and other pollutants; and reduce emissions of black carbon, a short lived climate change agent
- an effective testing program that maximizes emissions reductions from on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles while balancing the need to reduce regulatory burden on impacted transportation industries
- that both light duty and heavy duty vehicles owners are properly maintaining their vehicles and that the emissions control systems are functioning as intended
The overall purpose of the proposed changes to the program is to:
- provide benefits in air quality and human health through reductions in emissions from heavy duty diesel vehicles
- achieve full compliance by the on-road light duty and heavy duty vehicle fleet with Ontario Environmental Protection Act
- create a fair and a level playing field where all industry partners contribute to reducing heavy-duty diesel emissions and improving air quality
- Public acceptance: Achieve a high degree of public acceptance where there is a high degree of certainty that on-road heavy duty diesel vehicles are meeting provincial emissions standards and that the program is contributing to protecting Ontario’s air quality.
- Industry acceptance: Achieve a high degree of industry acceptance where all on-road heavy duty diesel vehicles are adhering to the on-road environmental emissions standards, including the prohibition against the tampering with emissions systems.
- Compliance standards: Achieve the highest standard of compliance for all services that are provided as part of a Performance Contract by Drive Clean Facilities.
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