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Alberta becomes the first Canadian province to modify environmental reporting rules in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

Publication April 6, 2020 – 2 PM ET

On March 30 and March 31, Alberta’s minister of environment and parks passed a slew of ministerial orders (the Orders) modifying certain industrial environmental reporting requirements in Alberta. The Orders were passed pursuant to s. 52.1(2) of the Alberta Public Health Act and are further to order-in-council 080/2020 that declared a state of public health emergency in Alberta due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ministerial order 15/2020

Ministerial order 15/2020 extends the deadline to submit compliance reports and emissions reduction plan reports under sections 36(8) and 36(9) of Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Regulation from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020. Ministerial order 15/2020 can be found here.

Ministerial order 16/2020

Ministerial order 16/2020 extends the deadline to submit reports for the 2019 compliance period under sections 10(1), 11(1) and 12(1) of Alberta’s Renewable Fuels Standard Regulation from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020. These new deadlines apply to fuel suppliers, approved contributors and renewable fuel providers. Ministerial order 16/2020 can be found here.

Ministerial order 17/2020

Ministerial order 17/2020 suspends all requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in approvals or registration under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and all requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in licences or approvals under the Alberta Water Act. These suspensions do not apply to reporting requirements for drinking water facilities. Ministerial order 17/2020 also suspends all disposition requirements to submit returns or reports under the Alberta Public Lands Act

Notwithstanding these suspensions, all approval, registration, licence and disposition holders (Record Holders) are required to continue to record and retain complete information relating to any reporting or return requirements. Upon request, the Record Holders are required to make these records available to Environment and Parks, or the Alberta Energy Regulator where the records deal with energy resource activities. Ministerial order 17/2020 can be found here.

Duration

The Orders shall remain in effect, unless they are sooner continued by an order of the lieutenant governor in council under the Alberta Public Health Act, until the earliest of:


a. August 14, 2020;
b. 60 days after order-in-council 080/2020 is terminated by the lieutenant governor in council, if order-in-council 080/2020 is terminated before June 15, 2020; or
c. the termination of the Orders by the minister or the lieutenant governor in council. 

Temporary amendment to select Air Monitoring Directive requirements

In addition to the Orders, on March 31, Alberta Environment and Parks also issued a temporary amendment to select Air Monitoring Directive (AMD) requirements. The amendment allows industrial operations and Alberta airsheds to deviate from select AMD monitoring, siting and reporting requirements. Effective immediately:

i. calibration of ambient analyzers and ambient station manifold and inlet cleaning is now required once every three months for the remainder of 2020;
ii. the requirement to report “calendar day” in AMD reporting forms is removed;
iii. the deadline to complete and submit the 2019 Annual Emissions Inventory Report is extended from September 30, 2020, to December 31, 2020;
iv. the requirement to immediately report exceedances of Ambient Air Quality Guidelines until August 31, 2020, is removed until September 30, 2020;
v. extending until September 30, 2020, the requirement to submit airshed monthly monitoring summary reports and ambient data is extended by two months.

More detailed information on the amendments to the AMD requirements in Alberta, and their specific application, can be found here

As of April 2, Alberta is the only province that has suspended certain environmental reporting requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, on March 26, the assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its own policy to deal with environmental non-compliance in the wake of COVID-19, announcing that the agency would apply enforcement discretion for noncompliance: (i) during the period of the policy; (ii) that results from the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on this policy can be found here

Additional information on tips to manage environmental risk during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here
 


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