Overview of the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations



The Air Quality Management System (AQMS) is an approach to air quality management across Canada where all levels of government work collaboratively to respond to different air quality challenges across the country. It includes four elements:

  1. Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS), meant to drive local air quality improvements. They provide the basis for provincial and territorial governments to determine the level of action needed.
  2. A framework for regional and local air quality management through air zones and regional airsheds.
  3. Base-level Industrial Emissions Requirements (BLIERs) for certain major industries.
  4. An intergovernmental working group to improve collaboration and reduce emissions from mobile sources (i.e. sources such as in-use cars and trucks).

In October 2012, federal/provincial/territorial ministers of the environment, with the exception of Quebec, agreed to implement the AQMS. Although Quebec supports the general objectives of AQMS, Quebec will not implement the system because it considers the federal industrial emission requirements duplicative of its Clean Air Regulation.  Quebec is, however, collaborating with other jurisdictions on developing some elements of the system, including the CAAQS.

The BLIERs are management instruments intended to ensure that all AQMS sectors in Canada meet a consistent, good base-level of environmental performance, regardless of the air quality where facilities are located. They are not designed to be the sole instrument used to improve air quality. Provincial and territorial governments will monitor and manage their local sources of air pollution and have the opportunity to be the front-line regulator and take additional action on all sources to achieve the CAAQS. Actions can include introducing more stringent industrial emission standards for significant air pollutant emitters.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is implementing the BLIERs using a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory instruments. The sectors considered under AQMS are:

  • aluminium and alumina
  • base metal smelting
  • cement
  • chemicals
  • electricity
  • fertilizers
  • iron ore pellets
  • iron, steel and ilmenite
  • oil sands
  • petroleum refining
  • pipelines
  • potash
  • pulp and paper
  • upstream oil and gas

The equipment groups are:

  • gaseous-fuel fired boilers and heaters
  • stationary spark-ignition gaseous-fuel-fired engines
  • natural gas-fueled stationary combustion turbines

The first phase of BLIERs regulations, the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations (MSAPR), addresses the following equipment types and industrial sectorsFootnote1:

  • Boilers and heaters equipment used to generate heat and steam for various purposes in many industrial facilities (e.g. in situ extraction of bitumen in oil sands operations using steam-assisted gravity drainage) (Part 1 of the MSAPR)
  • Stationary engines equipment used for compression, electric power generation and pumping in many industrial facilities (Part 2 of the MSAPR)
  • Grey cement manufacturing facilities, of which there are 15 currently operating in Canada (Part 3 of the MSAPR)

The MSAPR consolidate information relevant to two or more Parts of the Regulations (i.e., boilers and heaters; engines; cement) in common sections. These common sections include Interpretation (i.e., descriptions, definitions and general elements) and Part 4 - General.

A summary of benefits and costs of the MSAPR is included at the end of this document.

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