Amendments to O. Reg. 79/15 to Further Streamline the Use of Alternative Low-Carbon Fuels

ERO number
019-3544
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
July 30, 2021 - September 13, 2021 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
July 30, 2021
to September 13, 2021

Decision summary

We made amendments to make it easier for energy-intensive facilities to substitute coal and petroleum coke with alternative low-carbon fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The use of low-carbon fuels will enable these industries to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decrease their carbon footprint.

Decision details

Ontario is committed to addressing climate change by supporting the efforts of Ontario industry to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing and phasing out their use of coal.

As part of our commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions, we are amending O. Reg. 79/15: Alternative Low-Carbon Fuels (O. Reg. 79/15 or the Regulation) under the Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.19 (EPA). These changes to the regulation simplify the approvals process for manufacturers of cement, lime, iron and steel, to substitute the use of coal and petroleum coke with fuels derived from materials that would otherwise be disposed in landfills.

We made amendments to the regulation that will:

  • allow businesses to use technical data (e.g. data from sources like published literature) to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from a low-carbon fuel source
  • allow a virtual and in-person option for public meeting requirements to increase accessibility and provide flexibility for businesses in how they meet the consultation requirements:
    • businesses would be required to facilitate an in-person meeting, if requested
    • where there is a declared emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act., R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9, businesses are not required to accommodate in-person public meetings
  • simplify upfront consultation for applications to amend the low-carbon fuel component of an environmental compliance approval (ECA) while preserving the requirement to consult on amendments to the ECA pursuant to the Environmental Bill of Rights
  • increase the limit of alternative low carbon fuels for demonstration projects from 100 tonnes per day to 200 tonnes per day so businesses can identify and test the performance of fuels (and different blends) to determine performance feasibility.
  • remove onerous quarterly reporting requirements for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which would provide flexibility for signing directors to impose site-specific monitoring and reporting requirements in ECAs.
  • remove dead animals and dead animal parts from the list of restricted low carbon fuels to allow materials such as bone meal and animal fat to be used as a fuel source

Facilities will still be required to continue to meet Ontario’s strict air standards and obtain approval for air and noise emissions under the EPA.

The amendments to O. Reg. 79/15 will come into force on January 1, 2022.

Regulatory impact assessment

It is up to businesses to use low-carbon fuels and the simplified approvals process under the regulation. We anticipate two facilities would apply for the use of low-carbon fuels by 2025. It is expected that the value of total benefits resulting from the proposed changes for the use of low-carbon fuels is approximately $77,513 during 2022-2031, or $7,751 annually.

The cost savings for each business is dependent on the project e.g., the number of fuel types proposed to be used or if a facility is already approved to use low-carbon fuels. It is estimated that a business could save at least $429,100 and prevent project delays of 1.5-2 years for every amendment application that is avoided, as a result of the proposed changes.

Comments received

Through the registry

11

By email

31

By mail

1
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We received a total of 43 comments from a wide range of interested parties, including:

  • members of the public
  • professional and industry associations
  • municipality
  • environmental non-government organizations
  • cement industries
  • agricultural organizations

We considered all feedback received during the 45-day commenting period for this posting.

We received broad support from industry stakeholders to remove regulatory burden for the use of low-carbon fuels by simplifying the approvals process. The changes will support industries’ efforts to:

  • help reduce their environmental footprint
  • fight climate change
  • invest in low-carbon infrastructure

We received comments that were not supportive and grouped them into the following themes:

  1. Quality of carbon dioxide emission intensity estimates

    Several stakeholders are concerned that using technical data to estimate the carbon dioxide emission intensity of a low-carbon fuel would not be as reliable as data directly from the lab analysis of that fuel.

    Response

    The carbon dioxide estimates based on existing data would be required to be analyzed in accordance with methods prescribed under the regulation. Also, depending on the sources used, the director may require additional verification tests of carbon dioxide emission intensity based on actual samples of low-carbon fuel if the data quality was considered insufficient. These requirements may be imposed as part of the conditions of the approval.

  2. Consultation – accessibility for in-person meetings

    Stakeholders expressed that consultation may not be accessible for individuals who have no (or limited) internet access if a business opted to facilitate two virtual public meetings.

    Response

    There has been a change from the July 30, 2021 proposal notice. The ministry reviewed these comments and will require businesses to facilitate at least one in-person meeting if requested.

  3. Consultation – amendment applications

    The ministry proposed to remove the upfront public consultation requirements (notification and two public meetings) for amendment applications to use low-carbon fuels. Stakeholders expressed that removing all upfront consultation requirements for amendment applications would decrease environmental oversight, public engagement and transparency. Further, stakeholders expressed that the minimum 30-day commenting period through the Environmental Registry would be insufficient for the public to review an application and provide meaningful comments to the ministry.

    Response

    Based on comments received, there has been a change from the July 30, 2021 proposal notice. The regulation will require public notification prior to a business submitting their amendment application. This notification process will allow the public to provide comments directly to the business and would require the business to address these comments before an amendment application is submitted to the ministry. The requirement for two public meetings for amendment applications has been removed.

    The requirement for public notification and the opportunity to comment will provide the public with additional time prior to the commenting period in the Environmental Registry to review amendment applications for the use of low-carbon fuels. This approach will still simplify the approvals process for businesses.

  4. Limits for demonstration projects

    Various stakeholders expressed concerns about increasing the limit for demonstration projects from 100 tonnes per day to 200 tonnes per day.

    Response

    Increasing the limit of demonstration projects would enable facilities to assess the performance of different types and blends of low-carbon fuels on a broader scale and determine whether the fuels are feasible for continuous use. Although we are proposing to increase the limit for demonstration projects, the rules governing these projects have not changed, e.g., time-limited (up to 3 years) and must meet standards for air emissions.

  5. Reporting and monitoring requirements

    There were concerns expressed that removing quarterly reporting requirements for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would decrease environmental oversight which may result in negative impacts to human health.

    Response

    The ministry will consider monitoring conditions for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions on a site-specific basis.

    In general, businesses must evaluate all air contaminants emitted to ensure they meet Ontario’s air standards (e.g., Guideline A-7: Air Pollution Control, Design and Operation Guidelines for Municipal Waste Thermal Treatment and O. Reg. 419/05: Air Pollution-Local Air Quality) and obtain approval for air and noise emissions under the EPA. Approvals issued include terms and conditions that are required for the facility, which may include source testing, low-carbon fuel analysis, continuous emission monitors for the verification of air emissions and process conditions and compliance reporting requirements.

  6. Use of dead animal or dead animal parts

    Some stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the management of low-carbon fuels derived from dead animal or dead animal parts (e.g., odour, storage, handling).

    Response

    Low-carbon fuels derived from animal parts have been used in the form of bone meal or animal fat in other jurisdictions. The management of low-carbon fuel materials (e.g., storage, handling, odour) will be considered during the review of ECA applications to protect human health and the environment.

  7. Ontario’s commitment to the waste hierarchy

    There were concerns expressed that making it easier to use low-carbon fuels would conflict with Ontario’s commitment to the waste hierarchy.

    Response

    Materials that are regulated for recycling in Ontario will not be allowed as low-carbon fuels. Only end-of-life, non-recyclable materials that would otherwise be destined for landfill are permitted to be used as a low-carbon fuel. The proposed amendments would not change these requirements. Businesses may be required to provide the origin of low-carbon fuels as part of a complete ECA application and this information can be used to confirm that the materials do not conflict with current waste policies or initiatives for a circular economy.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Client Services and Permissions Branch
Address

135 St. Clair Avenue West
Floor 1
Toronto, ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Shareen Han

Phone number
Email address
Office
Client Services and Permissions Branch
Address

135 St. Clair Avenue West
floor 4
Toronto, ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

Sign up for notifications

We will send you email notifications with any updates related to this consultation. You can change your notification preferences anytime by visiting settings in your profile page.

Follow this notice

Original proposal

ERO number
019-3544
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

July 30, 2021 - September 13, 2021 (45 days)

Proposal details

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (ministry) is committed to addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to diverting waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 79/15: Alternative Low-Carbon Fuels (O. Reg. 79/15 or the Regulation) made under the Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E. 19.

These changes to the regulation would make it easier for manufacturers of cement, lime, iron and steel, to substitute the use of fossil fuels with fuels derived from materials that would otherwise be disposed in landfills.

More specifically, the proposed amendments would:

  1. modernize the process for ECA amendments and provide proponents with the option to rely on secondary or tertiary sources to estimate CO2 emission intensity
  2. increase the limit of alternative low-carbon fuels in demonstration projects from 100 tonnes per day to 200 tonnes per day
  3. remove out-dated quarterly reporting requirements for SO2 and NOx
  4. remove dead animals or dead animal parts from the list of restricted low-carbon fuels to allow materials such as bone meal and animal fat to be used as a fuel source

The increased use of low carbon fuels would help recover resources from waste and enable these industries to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decrease their carbon footprint.

Details about the proposed amendments

O. Reg. 79/15: Alternative Low-Carbon Fuels was originally put in place to streamline the approvals process for manufacturers of cement, lime, iron, and steel, so they are able to switch from fossil fuels to alternative fuels derived from materials that would otherwise be disposed of as waste and landfilled.

There has been very little use of O. Reg. 79/15 in the five years since its introduction - only two Environmental Compliance Approvals have been issued under the Regulation. In response to some of the challenges identified by multiple stakeholders, the ministry is proposing regulatory changes to further streamline the use of alternative low-carbon fuel.

Supporting the use of alternative low-carbon fuels aligns with Ontario's commitment to investigate options for recovering resources from waste and to set and overall target for lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The government has also committed to finishing the phase out of coal by supporting efforts of Ontario industry to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through reduction and phase out of their coal usage.

Removing barriers to recover end-of-life materials (that cannot be reused or recycled) would enable these energy-intensive sectors to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, divert waste from landfills and help the province achieve its sustainable development goals and targets.

Modernize the process for Environmental Compliance Approval amendments and provide the option to rely on secondary or tertiary sources to estimate CO2 emission intensity

Currently, under O. Reg. 79/15, before an Environmental Compliance Approval application can be submitted, a proponent is required to hold two (2) in-person public meetings to notify and consult on the continuous use of specific alternative low-carbon fuels. The proposed changes would provide proponents with the option to hold public meetings virtually or in-person to meet consultation requirements prior to submission for the initial Environmental Compliance Approval.

Under the current framework, once an Environmental Compliance Approval has been issued, if a proponent would like to add new low carbon fuels (which have not been previously approved) or increase the maximum daily quantity of previously approved fuels, they are required to complete the public consultation requirements (e.g. two public meetings) prior to amending their approval. The proposed changes would remove the upfront consultation requirements to align with the current Environmental Compliance Approval amendment process for other sectors. The requirements for public consultation would be maintained through the Environmental Registry of Ontario for a minimum 30-day public commenting period.

As part of the application for a permit and the public consultation requirements, proponents are currently required to provide a CO2 emission intensity report based on lab analysis from actual low carbon fuel samples to verify that the CO2 emission intensity of the low carbon fuel is less than the CO2 emission intensity of the fossil fuel that is currently used at the facility. The proposed changes would enable proponents with the option to rely on secondary or tertiary data sources (e.g. published literature) to estimate the CO2 emission intensity of a fuel. This would make it easier for proponents to consult on a broader range of low carbon fuel (and the maximum daily usage), which can then be authorized under the initial Environmental Compliance Approval. The authorization of a broader range of alternative low carbon fuel (and the quantity) would help avoid future Environmental Compliance Approval amendments and enable proponents to respond quickly to the market supply of fuel sources.

Increase the limit of alternative low-carbon fuel for demonstration projects from 100 tonnes per day to 200 tonnes per day

Demonstration projects enable proponents to assess the performance of different types of low carbon fuels (and different feedstock mixes) on a smaller scale to determine feasibility of the fuels for continuous use. The ministry was made aware that the current 100 tonnes per day limit for demonstration projects is too restrictive, as this does not allow for adequate testing of low carbon fuel sources.

We are proposing to increase the limit of demonstration projects to 200 tonnes per day, which would enable facilities to assess the performance of different types and blends of low-carbon fuels on a broader scale and determine whether the fuels are feasible for continuous use. Although we are proposing to increase the limit for demonstration projects, the regulatory requirements to support these projects have not changed. For example, as part of the Environmental Compliance Approval application process, proponents would have to demonstrate compliance with the ministry’s air emissions standards and that the low carbon fuels could be managed safely (i.e., storage, handling).

Also, proponents may use the results of the demonstration project, if in compliance with regulatory requirements, to apply for an Environmental Compliance Approval for continuous use.

Flexibility for NOx and SO2 emissions reporting for non-demonstration projects

Quarterly reports for NOx and SO2 emissions are currently a requirement for non-demonstration projects under O. Reg. 79/15. This monitoring was originally put in place because of the NOx and SO2 emissions trading program (O. Reg. 194/05: Industry Emissions – Nitrogen Oxides and Sulphur Dioxide under the Environmental Protection Act).

The province has since revoked O. Reg. 194/05 (effective Feb 5, 2021) to end the outdated program because in its current form, it was no longer effective in reducing emissions from regulated sectors (ERO# 019-1233). Although the ministry is proposing to remove the prescriptive quarterly reporting requirements for NOx and SO2 emissions in O. Reg. 79/15, the ministry would still have director authority and discretion to impose conditions in the Environmental Compliance Approval to require monitoring and reporting on a site-specific basis.

Expand eligible fuel sources

Schedule 1 of the Regulation lists prohibited alternative low-carbon fuel sources. The proposed amendments would allow energy-intensive facilities to use dead animals or dead animal parts like animal bone meal, animal fat and hides as a fuel to replace fossil fuels. Currently, facilities in jurisdictions outside of Ontario are permitted to use dead animals as a source of alternative low carbon fuel (e.g., animal bone meal). The proposed changes would align with other jurisdictions.

Further, proponents would be required to follow existing provincial and federal rules that manage the disposal of dead animals, for example:

  • O. Reg. 106/09: Disposal of Dead Farm Animals under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, S.O. 2002, c. 4
  • O. Reg. 105/09: Disposal of Deadstock under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 20

The amendments would not detract from Ontario’s waste reduction priority to reduce, reuse and recycle. For example, materials regulated under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and materials accepted in the Blue Box Program are not considered eligible fuel sources under O. Reg. 79/15. The industry would be permitted to use non-recyclable, non-hazardous wastes such as painted wood and plastic packaging that cannot be recycled and biomass-derived fuels

Analysis of Regulatory Impact

The proposed changes would make it easier for manufacturers in the cement, lime, iron and steel industry to substitute the use of fossil fuels with low carbon fuels derived from materials that would otherwise be disposed in landfills. This would encourage the greater use of low carbon fuels, which would help lower greenhouse gas emissions for communities over time.

For proponents, an Environmental Compliance Approval preauthorizing the use of a broader range of fuels would help avoid future amendments to their approval and allow companies to respond quickly to the market supply of fuel sources, saving them time and costs.

We encourage interested parties to submit comments on the proposed regulation amendments. We will consider all comments submitted as a response to this posting prior to finalizing the regulation.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from July 30, 2021
to September 13, 2021

Connect with us

Contact

Shareen Han

Phone number
Email address
Office
Client Services and Permissions Branch
Address

135 St. Clair Avenue West
floor 4
Toronto, ON
M4V 1P5
Canada