Today I want to talk to you about....
the very air.... that we breathe
here in beautiful....but highly industrialized
Southern and Eastern Ontario.
And my message today ...is two fold:
first, that a number of well known Industries in Ontario
continue to compomise..... air quality
by releasing chemical wastes.... from their smokestacks,
into the atmosphere;
and second...that the Government of Ontario,
as the regulator of industry,
is not being very effective.... in approaching this problem.
So we have two issues here.....
Industrial waste.....and ... Government regulation.
When I think about this,
I am reminded of......the late Mr. U. Utah Phillips.
Mr. Phillips was an American entertainer and activist
who he famously noted
that "The earth is not dying,..... it is being killed,
and the people killing it ......have names and addresses."
So with Mr. Phillip's gentle admonition in mind,
I would like to make two points
abpit is my subject today,
which is.... industrial air pollution .
First of all,
in the control of industrial air emissions
in the province of Ontario
there has been ....regulatory ...failure.
I say this because
although you might find this surprising
for such a modern province as Ontario
at the present time
there appears to be
no .....effective ....limits.... on,
or.... effective ....monitoring ....of....
chemical discharges..... by industry ... into Ontario air.
So this is what I refer to
as a regulatory failure....
lack of limits...and lack of monitoring.
My second point is that,
the Government of Ontario
is misleading .....the Ontario public
about how effective .....
or more accutrately, how ineffective,
current air regulations
The government says
that Ontario industrial air emissions regulations
......are "the toughest.... in North America."
But it is my view
that a more accurate way to put it is that
Ontario air regulations
.....are among the weakest.... in North America.
That is the reality.
Among the weakest in North America.
Here in Eastern Ontario alone
there have been 5 examples ...in the last 10 years
of what I am talking about...
which illustrate this problem of regulatory failure
by the GO.
These are specific cases of industries located in our area,
in Cornwall.....and Trenton..... and Picton......and Bath...... and Ottawa
I am not going to name the specific corporations,
but they include the cement industry,
the pulp and paper industry,
and the waste disposal industry.
Of course, each of these industries
has a smokestack,
and that smokestack.... releases waste chemicals
into the local air.....
there is nothing new about that.
But....when you look at each of these 5 specific cases in detail
what you find uniformly
is that the Ontario Government regulator of air quality,
which is the Ministry of Environment,
has failed to ensure proper control
of smoke stack emissions
in each of these 5 cases.
Now I remind you..... that the Ontario MoE was created
almost 40 years ago, in 1970,
in response to evidence at that time
that the then regulator of Air Pollution,
the Ontario Department of Health,
was not being effective in that particular role.
The specific case which triggered concern at that time
was that of a fertilizer plant in Dunnville, Ontario
which was polluting the local air with fluoride.
Public concern about that case led to the creation
of what is now called the Ontario MoE,
whose job, among many other functions,
is to regulate emissions from industrial smoke stacks,
for the protection of human health.
However, the problem is that
over the 40 years of its subsequent existence
it appears that the relationship between the MoE
and the industries that it regulates
has become a little too close....
one might even say unhealthy.
I say this because time and again,
when you look at any number of cases over the past 40 years,
the priorities of the MoE appear to have been
with the protection of the interests of industry
rather than the protection of human health
and the environment.
Now of course, we tend to blame the Americans
as the primary source..... of our air quality problems,
with those nasty emissions from industries
in the Ohio Valley flowing this way
on the prevailing winds.
But American air quality regulations
actually appear to be stronger than our own.
For example, just across the border
just 120 miles due East of here
in a place called Ticonderoga, New York,
in November 2006, just 2 years ago,
the International Pulp and Paper Company
mounted a pilot tire burning project ....
they wanted to use old tires...
as fuel in their pulp and paper mill.
Now on the surface that sounds like a pretty good idea.
However it was discovered that when tires
were burned as fuel at Ticonderoga...
high levels of a lot of very nasty emissions
came out of the smoke stack...
and futhermore, that these levels
were in exceedence of U.S. federal limits...
so the project was shut down.
In contrast to that case.....
a similar project here in Ontario
in our neighbouring community of Bath, near Kingston,
a large international cement company
wanted to do the same thing.....
to burn tires as fuel in their plant.
And sure enough, in December 2006,
which was just one month after the Ticonderoga proposal
was declined in New York State,
this Bath proposal was approved ....
by the Ontario MoE.
So what was unacceptable under American air regulations
was acceptable in Ontario, Canada.
So there is quite a contrast
between air standards in the two countries.
One Canadian who has been
influential in Ontario air quality issues
is Mr. Gordon Miller,
the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
Mr. Miller has made
a very strong contribution
to our understanding
of the regulation of industrial air pollution .
Although his office has no power,
in his last 6 Annual Reports ,
which I commend to you,
Mr. Miller really has done a very good job
in focusing on... how far behind
Ontario regulators are ...
in the matter of air quality.
I have two of the most recent editions here.
The 2006 edition of the Commissioner's report
is entitled ....Neglecting Our Obligations. (Show)
The cover page shows
a number of smokestacks in the background,
belching out a lot of nasty stuff,
and the silhouette of a child
in the foreground, presumably breathing it in.
This image itself is a very Powerful one....
NEGLECTING OUR OBLIGATIONS
The 2008 edition
is titled....Getting to K(no)w, (play on words)
What Mr. Miller is getting at here
is that in the past 40 years
the MoE has acted as a sort of.....
Rubber Stamp Regulator ..
saying to industry, Yes, go ahead and pollute the air,
when in some cases,
when we KNOW more about a proposal
the answer should be, NO, You can't do that.
hence GETTING TO KNOW (NO)
The fundamental issue in air quality
that Mr. Miller has identified
is that..... of the 3 methods available
to regulate industrial air emissions
the Government of Ontario
has used the two methods that are
complicated and ....ineffective ...
instead of the third method
which is simple, and effective.
This seems rather odd, but that's how it is.
The first method .....of the two in use,
which is the one
that was used for many years,
until very recently,
is called.... POI..... the Point of Impingement method.
In the POI method....
air samples are taken at a location...
which is some distance away....
from the actual source of pollution,
for example, a smoke stack.
Somebody....a technician....goes out
to , for example, the property line... of the industry
that has the smokestack,
and the technician takes an air sample ... in a bottle,
and this is sent off to a lab for analysis.
That is the POI method.
Now that method, POI, has with great fanfare..
recently been replaced
by a purportedly.... even better method
which is called ... the AAQC ..
the Ambient Air quality Criteria method ,
certainly a longer name,
but whether it's a better method is a very different question,
because, in this new, AAQC method,
no.... actual air samples are taken ....at all.
Instead, concentrations of air pollution
that might be expected to occur
in the area around..........any particular source
are predicted by ......computer models.
And if you have ever seen
any of the mathematical formulas
on which these computer models are based.....
they are very complex
......and they are very difficult to understand
I defy anybody to explain them to you.
I might add, because of this complexity
these models are also very easy to manipulate
to get the desired result....
and we have seen that locally.
Effectively, it seems to me
that although these two methods,
POI and AAQC,
give the Appearance
of being very scientifically based,
and therefore, presumably, very reliable,
that in actual fact
what these Regulatory methods do ,
if you look at the numbers,
is they have allowed, and continue to allow,
industry....in Ontario..... to dump
as much chemical waste ....as it wants..
into the atmosphere .....
as long as the wind is blowing in the right direction.
I know......hard to believe,
here in the modern world of 2008,
but that is the way that it is.....
here in good old Ontario
The good news is.... that there is
a third method of regulating industrial air emissions,
which I have already described
as the simple ....and effective ......method.
This is called Source Testing
and it is done very simply....by putting a filter
in our smokestack,
way up there, near the mouth of the stack,
to measure ...the amount of chemicals of various kinds
that actually leave the smokestack.
Commissioner Miller's point is that
until the government regulates emissions
by Source Testing,
(which you would think
would be the obvious method to use),
that until they do that,
we are going to continue
to have a problem.
So of the three methods available
to regulate industrial air emissions
we are using the two...... which are complex and ineffective,
instead of the one .....which is simple and effective.
You might well ask why that is.
The answer seems to be once again
that in air quality regulation at least
in the Province of Ontario
the interests of industry
take precedence over
the protection of human health.
In the Bath case,
which is of one of the 5 Eastern Ontario cases
that I have mentioned,
in my opinion the recent decision by the MoE
to allow the cement company in Bath
to burn these tires as fuel
suggests once again, as in 1967, 40 years ago,
that the wrong... government... department
is regulating industrial air emissions in Ontario.
Indeed, the Ontario Supreme Court,
just 6 mos ago,
in their June 2008 review
of the MoE decision in the Bath case,
the 3 Judges of the Ontario Supreme Court
used some colourful language,
to describe the decision
as one which was....egregious......
which was..... bungled....
which was.... a betrayal of public trust.
That was the Supreme Court's
rather jaundiced view
of the regulator's decision in the Bath case...
egregious......bungled.....a betrayal of the public trust.
And the Court of Appeal
has now seconded that opinion
in their November 2008 decision.
So, who ...should be doing this job
of regulating industrial air emissions
in our province??
Well, first of all, as Mr. Miller,
has recently pointed out
of every dollar of the Ontario Provincial Budget
the Ministry of Health gets about 45 cents
of every provincial dollar.
The MoE, on the other hand,
which incidentally has a huge mandate,
gets 1/3 of one cent.
That is how much we are investing
in environmental protection
in this province.....1/3 of one cent.
and I think that we a getting...what we are paying for,
because as a result, in the past decade
the Ontario MoE...... has been reduced
to a SMALL,..... minor, ......department
of the Ontario government.
So the MoE... is in no position
to be regulating these BIG, .....major,...... heavy...industries,
or by virtue of expertise.
In some cases, these are ....multinational,
So it's a kind of a David and Goliath situation.
in answer to the question as to who
should be regulating industrial air emissions...
this is a human health issue,
and it is the Ontario Public Health officials
who are the experts in human health,
not the MoE.
Therefore, it seems to me ....
that we should return
to the original idea..... of regulation of air quality
by an appropriate division........
of the Ontario Department of Health...
they have the weight.....they have the expertise.
To summarize then, 3 points:
· 1. There has been regulatory failure in the control of industrial air emissions in Ontario
· 2. There are in Eastern Ontario alone, 5 cases, in Bath, Trenton, Picton, Cornwall and Ottawa, which demonstrate this regulatory failure all too well.
· 3. The Ticonderoga, New York, case demonstrates that the Americans are more effective at air pollution regulation than we are in Ontario.
However, despite all of that evidence,
our Ontario Government persists is saying
that Ontario industrial air emissions regulations
......are "the toughest in North America."
But I believe that a more accurate way to put it
is that our air regulations, as I said before,
.....are among the weakest in North America.
In my opinion, the Government of Ontario
is misleading ....the Ontario public
about how effective
current air quality regulations.... really are.