Written By Stephanie Ridge, Sean Assié and Shawn Munro
As we noted in our earlier blogs, Environmental/Regulatory Reporting Relief: Alberta Temporarily Suspends Reporting Requirements for Certain Authorizations and Alberta Energy Announces Additional Suspensions to Regulatory Reporting Requirements, the Alberta government is taking steps to relieve some of the challenges associated with complying with regulatory requirements during COVID-19 restrictions.
Separately from the Ministerial Order 17/2020 issued March 30, 2020, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) released the Temporary Amendment of Select Air Monitoring Directive Requirements (the "Temporary AMD Requirements") on March 31, 2020. The interim policy is intended to "alleviate potential pressures on industrial operations and airsheds while still ensuring Albertans and Regulators have access to quality assured air quality information." (Temporary AMD Requirements at page 1)
The Air Monitoring Directive (AMD) sets out the requirements for monitoring and reporting air quality in the province. It applies to the owner of a facility that is the subject of an approval or other authorization under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA); the holder of an approval or other authorization under EPEA; the Alberta airshed; and any other person specified in any other part of the AMD. The AMD applies to facilities and operations subject to approvals and authorizations issued under the EPEA by AEP and the Alberta Energy Regulator.
At a high level, the Temporary AMD Requirements include the following relaxations of select requirements in the Air Monitoring Directive:
- reduced frequency of ambient continuous air monitoring station calibrations from monthly to quarterly (i.e., every 3 months);
- reduced frequency of ambient continuous air monitoring station manifold and inlet cleaning from monthly to quarterly;
- removal of requirement to report "calendar day" in AMD reporting forms;
- provides a three-month extension for completion and submission of 2019 Annual Emissions Inventory Report;
- removal of requirement to immediately report exceedances of Ambient Air Quality Guidelines until August 31, 2020; and
- provides a two-month extension for submission of airshed monthly air monitoring summary reports and ambient data.
Specifications relevant to each relaxation are contained in the Temporary AMD Requirements. All relaxations are effective immediately and extend until either September 30, 2020, or December 31, 2020, depending on the relaxation in question.
The Temporary AMD Requirements emphasize that "while calibration requirements have been amended for industrial and airshed continuous ambient monitoring, it is critical that the data evaluation, acceptance criteria, and processes for determination of quality assurance remain in place." (page 3) Similar, "timelines for report submission have been extended for airsheds, however the content of reports, forms or data submission files must still follow AMD requirements." (page 3)
AEP is also collecting comments, questions, or suggestions regarding the contents of the Temporary AMD Requirements. The amendments and timelines contained therein will be re-evaluated. We recommend that operators who may be impacted by these changes closely review their obligations in relation to the Temporary AMD Requirements to determine the extent to which the temporary measures are applicable. Given the increasing focus on the management of air emissions, operators should be aware that failure to comply with either the relaxed requirements, or other existing requirements, may result in a notice of noncompliance and potential regulatory action.
Except as set out in the Temporary AMD Requirements, compliance with applicable monitoring and reporting requirements set out in the AMD remain mandatory. We will continue to monitor ongoing developments as governments, regulators, and industry explore practical ways to achieve regulatory compliance in this public health emergency.
Should have you have questions as to how these changes affect your operations and business, please contact the Bennett Jones Environmental Law group. In addition, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for other COVID-19-related materials.