A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta. A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta

This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version. A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta A Clean A...
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This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta

A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta

Consultation Guide and Questionnaire, 2008

The Story of Air Quality Management in Alberta This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

Air Quality was first managed in Alberta by the Department of Public Health. In the 1970s, provincial air quality legislation led to the development of air quality objectives, limits for industrial emissions, monitoring and enforcement. In 1992, Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) became law but the underlying air regulatory system remained very much as it was. In 1990, the first explicit air quality strategy was developed through an 18-month broad stakeholder consultation known as the Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. Since then, Alberta Environment has collaborated with the Clean Air Strategic Alliance and the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment to develop the original Industrial Air Quality Management System and other air quality initiatives and programs. These initiatives have resulted in improvements in air quality in Alberta. Today, Alberta’s rapidly growing economy and population are presenting new challenges for air quality management. Emissions of air pollutants are increasing and air pollution concentrations are on the rise in some areas of the province. On the other hand, pollution prevention efforts are averting certain issues before they become serious. We now have a unique opportunity to renew our Clean Air Strategy to guide air quality management in Alberta for the next two to three decades. The Government of Alberta has asked the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) to renew the Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. CASA is an Alberta-based, multi-stakeholder organization that brings together representatives from industry, government and non-profit organizations to develop recommendations for managing air quality issues. The alliance acts as an advisory committee to the Government of Alberta to recommend strategies to assess and improve provincial air quality. CASA has formed a project team to develop the Clean Air Strategy and oversee the Clear the Air stakeholder consultation.

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Alberta has made significant progress in implementing strategies to improve air quality, and our knowledge of air quality including: • regulating emissions from industrial facilities as part of Alberta’s air management system, • regulations on flaring and venting, • electricity management framework, • managing acidifying emissions, • particulate matter and ozone framework, and • creation of airshed zones. Work continues in a number of areas including: • setting emission standards for industrial facilities, • dealing with increasing population and the challenges related to urban planning issues such as urban sprawl, • finding ways to address non-point industrial sources of air pollutants such as emissions from vehicles, home heating, light industrial, commercial, forest fires, wind erosion and gravel roads, • taking into consideration traditional Aboriginal-based knowledge of the environment, • understanding the impact of air pollution on human health, • addressing cumulative effects, and • integrating management of air, land and water issues.

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Purpose of this Discussion Guide The new Clean Air Strategy will affect all Albertans. For this reason, the Clean Air Strategic Alliance wants to hear from you and what you think about air quality in our province. The purpose of this guide is to provide a bit of background information on air quality in Alberta and invite Albertans to join us in developing a new Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. The consultation is designed to provide an opportunity for input from a broad range of stakeholders, including: • • • • • •

The difference a Clean Air Strategy makes

Aboriginal peoples Advocacy groups Environmental groups Farmers Government Health groups

• • • • • •

Industry Non-governmental organizations Rural residents Urban residents Youth Anyone interested in air quality issues

What difference will a Clean Air Strategy make to Albertans? The proposed Clean Air Strategy will provide the direction to help: 1. Protect the environment and human health. 2. Guide existing and future clean air initiatives. 3. Demonstrate that government, industries and individuals are committed to keeping our air clean. 4. Seek continuous improvement opportunities. 5. Identify areas and issues of special focus. 6. Clearly describe clean air outcomes. 7. Signal to all Albertans the direction our province is going with respect to clean air. 4

Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

How can I participate? Join in the dialogue by doing one or more of the following things:

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1. Read the information in this discussion guide and then complete and return the questionnaire to CASA by November 30, 2008 OR go to www.clearairalberta.ca to complete the questionnaire on-line. 2. Attend one of seven town hall meetings in the following communities:

all meetings start at 7 p.m. Grande Prairie Wednesday, September 24 @ Grande Prairie Inn, West Ballroom, 11633 Clairmont Road (100 street) Fort McMurray Tuesday, September 30 @ Quality Inn and Conference Centre, Ballroom B, 424 Gregoire Drive Bonnyville Thursday, October 2 @ Bonnyville Centennial Centre, VIP Room, 4313-50 Avenue Red Deer Wednesday, October 8 @ Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300-45 Avenue Lethbridge Wednesday, October 15 @ Lethbridge Lodge, 320 Scenic Drive Calgary Thursday, October 16 @ Sheraton Four Points Hotel, Panorama Room, 8220 Bowridge Crescent, NW Edmonton Thursday, October 23 @ Chateau Nova, Grand Room, 159 Airport Road (Edmonton City Centre)

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Join in the dialogue

3. Provide a written submission to CASA. Submissions should be no more than two pages in length and should answer the following questions: • What is the issue?

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• What is the solution? • How could/should this solution be incorporated in a Clean Air Strategy for Alberta? If you would like to submit a longer document, please provide a one-page summary of the document that summarizes the key points and clearly outlines how the information would contribute to the development of a Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. Please send your submission to: Clean Air Strategic Alliance 10035 108 Street, NW, Floor 10 Edmonton AB T5J 3E1 or fax to 780 422 3127.

Air that we breathe

What is air pollution? Air pollution refers to the presence of pollutants in the air that we breathe. Air pollutants are substances that can cause an adverse effect on humans, animals, plants or materials. Common pollutants include carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), particulate matter (PM) (such as dust and smoke), hydrocarbons (THC), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and ammonia (NH3). Some of them, such as ammonia and oxides of both nitrogen and sulphur, also cause effects such as acid rain. Air pollutants can affect our health and can accumulate in the environment. The following activities can all create air pollution: • • • • • •

energy development, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, transportation, and residential fuel combustion. 6

Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Sources of Pollutants 1. Natural sources: dust, pollen, forest fires, hot springs, and wetlands. 2. Man-made sources: energy, manufacturing, agriculture and forestry, transportation, and home heating. This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

3. Point sources: emissions are from a single point of release such as an industrial stack. 4. Non-point sources: called “area” sources, these refer to emissions from vehicles, home heating, light industrial, commercial, forest fires, wind erosion, and gravel roads.

What about greenhouse gases and climate change? Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is an important concern due to its contribution to climate change. But unlike air pollution, whose effects on human health and the environment are regional or local in nature, the effects of climate change will be broader, even global in scope. While climate change is not the focus of the new Clean Air Strategy, many sources of air pollution are also sources of greenhouse gases and sometimes efforts to control one can increase or decrease emissions of the other. The Government of Alberta has a separate climate change strategy that focuses on greenhouse gases and climate change. Alberta’s new Clean Air Strategy may identify innovative directions for air quality that will complement Alberta’s new Climate Change Strategy.

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Air quality and climate change

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How good is Alberta’s air? When talking about air, we differentiate between ambient air quality, which is the concentration of the air pollutants in the surrounding environment, and air emissions, which are air pollutants released into the atmosphere from a source such as a stack, a tail pipe or an unpaved road. An increase in air emissions will not always result in a measured increase in ambient air polllutants. This is due to the dilution of air pollutants as a result of weather, topography (such as hills or valleys), and source characteristics (like stack height).

Ambient Air Quality

Overall, air quality is good

Ambient air quality in Alberta is measured by a network of air monitoring stations. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is one way of reporting the quality of the ambient air. The Alberta AQI provides a numerical value that describes the quality of the outdoor air in Alberta based on the concentration of five major pollutants [sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2)]. This value is converted into four air quality categories—Good, Fair, Poor and Very Poor—reflecting the effects of air quality on people, animals and the environment. It is important to know that if an air quality event is caused by a pollutant not included in the AQI, it may not report the state of air quality accurately. Pollutants that are also monitored and important to air quality but not included in the AQI are hydrogen sulphide (H2S), ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Between 1998 and 2006, Alberta’s air quality was rated “good” more than 94 per cent of the time and “poor” or “very poor” less than 0.1 per cent of the time. In Alberta, “poor” or “very poor” air quality episodes are usually related to smoke from forest fires or smog events.

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Air Emissions

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Air emissions are released into the atmosphere from a variety of sources. They are either measured directly at the source (i.e. at a stack) or are estimated. Depending on the type of pollutant, air emissions are either increasing or decreasing in Alberta. More economic activity and more people have led to increases of air emissions and further increases are projected.

Ambient Air Quality & Air Emission Trends One reason for determining ambient air and air emission trends is that some air pollutants can cause health effects. Health effects are dependent on the amount of the pollutant and the length of exposure to the pollutant. Short-term exposures to high levels of the pollutants listed on the following pages can cause eye and respiratory irritation or, in some cases of accidental releases, death. Long-term exposures to low levels of pollutants could cause continuous respiratory irritation, neurological effects or in some cases cancer. Ammonia (NH3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are odorous compounds which some people associate with health effects.

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

About air emission trends

Here is a brief overview of common pollutants and current ambient air and air emission trends:

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Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) In Alberta, industrial emissions are the main source of hydrogen sulfide, which is also called sour gas. The industrial emissions are from petroleum refineries, natural gas plants, petrochemical plants, oil sands plants, sewage treatment facilities, pulp and paper mills, and animal feedlots. Natural sources of hydrogen sulfide include sulphur hot springs, sloughs, swamps and lakes. In the short term, hydrogen sulfide has the potential to be highly toxic, to aquatic life, birds and animals. Hydrogen sulfide also presents an odour problem.

Common pollutants

Trends: Ammonia air emissions are expected to rise due to increasing development and animal capacities at confined feeding operations. Carbon monoxide (CO) Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas emitted into the atmosphere primarily from incomplete combustion of gasoline, oil and wood. In towns and cities, the major source is motor vehicle exhaust emissions. Outside cities, significant sources include the oil and gas industry and wood product industry. Trends: The ambient air quality trends for carbon monoxide have been decreasing since the 1990s.

Trends: Ambient air concentrations of H2S have fluctuated over time. In cities, H2S concentrations have generally decreased since the 1990s. In the Fort McMurray area, concentrations of H2S have been higher in recent years.

Carbon monoxide air emissions in Alberta are decreasing due to technology improvements in the transportation sector.

Hydrogen sulphide air emissions have only been reported since 1999. Industrial sources have been fluctuating since then; however, reported emissions from 2005 - 2007 have been decreasing, with the exception of oilsands-related emissions, which have increased.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a colourless gas with a pungent odour. It is emitted by burning fuels that contain sulphur (such as coal and oil) and by other industrial processes. SO2 is a precursor to the formation of particulate matter and, subsequently, smog.

Ammonia (NH3)

Sulphur dioxide can damage plants and reduce yields of certain crops. It can also reduce the incidence of some fungal diseases. Sulphur dioxide gas dissolves in the water droplets in clouds causing the rain to be more acidic (also known as acid rain).

Ammonia is a colourless gas with a pungent odour that is produced naturally from the decay of plant material and animal waste. Ammonia is also produced for use in the production of fertilizers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and pharmaceuticals. Industrial operations, including agricultural activities (particularly fertilizer application and animal rearing), pulp and paper mills, mines, fertilizer plants and municipal wastewater effluents, are the principal sources of ammonia caused by human activity. Ammonia can impact water bodies and plants. Changes to plants can result in reduced resistance to disease, insect pests, drought and frost.

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

Trends: Ambient air concentrations of sulphur dioxide have decreased since the 1990s, with the exception of the Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan areas where some air monitoring stations have shown increasing concentrations of SO2 over the past years.

the rise and are expected to continue to rise due to increasing industrial development. SO2 emissions from upstream oil and gas are decreasing as a result of reduced flaring and dwindling production. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) Nitrogen oxides include nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). NOx is responsible for the brown haze observed near large cities. In Alberta, major sources of NOx include oil and gas industries, power plants and vehicles. Nitrogen dioxide can form acidic compounds in the air. These acidic compounds are responsible for acid deposition which can have negative effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Nitrous oxides also contribute to the formation of ozone and particulate matter which can impact human health. Similar to SO2, nitrogen dioxide can have both negative and positive effects on plants. High levels of NO2 can limit growth and make plants more susceptible to disease and frost damage. In some situations, nitrogen deposition can act as a nutrient. NO2 also contributes to acid rain. Trends: Nitrogen dioxide ambient air concentrations are decreasing in Alberta with the exception of the Fort McMurray area and Beaverlodge where concentrations have been increasing in recent years. NOX emissions are increasing in the upstream oil and gas and oil sands sectors due to increasing development. Emissions have been decreasing in the transportation sector due to improved vehicle pollution control technologies.

Between 2000 and 2005, SO2 emissions decreased in the oil sands sector through the implementation of sulphur capture technology. Since 2005, SO2 emissions in the oil sands sector have been on

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Ozone (O3)

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At normal outdoor concentrations, ozone is a colourless, odourless gas produced by a complex set of chemical reactions in the lower atmosphere. It is also transported to the ground from the upper atmosphere by weather. Ground-level ozone is a component of summer time smog. It is called a “secondary” pollutant because it is produced when two primary pollutants, Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), react in sunlight. In addition, ozone can significantly impact vegetation and decrease the productivity of some crops, and may contribute to forest decline in some parts of Canada. Trends: To date, the Canada-wide ambient air standard for ozone has not been exceeded in Alberta; however, annual trends in ozone levels have increased at most Alberta air monitoring stations since the 1990s.

Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Fine particulate matter includes a wide variety of tiny particles that vary in size, composition and origin. Primary sources of particulates include dust from soil, roads and agricultural activities, as well as combustion processes and industrial activities. Forest fires, cigarette smoke, household fireplaces and barbecues all emit fine particulate

matter into the air. Particulate matter can come from both solid matter, like soil, and liquid matter, like aerosols. Trends: To date the Canada-wide ambient air standard for particulate matter has not been exceeded in Alberta. The annual trends for PM2.5 have decreased at most stations since 1990; however, some stations in the Fort McMurray area and the Tomahawk Site have seen increasing trends in recent years.

in large cities such as Edmonton and Calgary. In recent years ambient air monitoring of VOCs has increased in other areas of Alberta. One of the VOCs that has been monitored for a longer period of time is Benzene. Concentrations of Benzene in cities has decreased since 1990. VOC air emissions are increasing in the oil sands sector due to increasing development. Emissions are decreasing in the transportation sector, due to improving pollution control technologies.

PM2.5 air emissions have been increasing and are predicted to continue to increase in the agriculture, oil sands and coal mining sectors due to increasing activity. In the transportation sector, PM2.5 emissions are decreasing due to vehicle improvements. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) VOCs include a large group of chemicals with carbon and hydrogen atoms. The more reactive VOCs can readily form other chemicals in the atmosphere. Smog or ozone is a product of such reactions. VOCs can be released when we burn vegetation, take a trip by car or plane and fill up at the gas pump. Other VOC emissions come from industrial processes, dry cleaning, burning wood and natural gas combustion. Natural sources include forests, grasslands and swamps. Trends: Historically, VOCs were mainly monitored

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

Common pollutants

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Airshed zones in Alberta

How is air quality monitored? Our ability to track the quantity and types of pollutants in the air continues to improve. In Alberta, air quality is monitored through a network of monitoring stations operated by Alberta Environment, airshed zones, Environment Canada and industry. The Alberta monitoring network provides information used to evaluate compliance with ambient (outdoor) air quality objectives and evaluate short-term and long-term trends in air quality.

What are airshed zones? Many of Alberta’s air quality issues are local, both in their cause and the solutions required. In these cases, province-wide approaches may be inappropriate and inefficient. Airshed zones are created by local stakeholders to monitor local air quality, identify local air quality issues and design local solutions. In 2008 there were nine airshed zones in Alberta (see map) guided by local or regional multi-stakeholder non-profit societies that use a consensus model to make decisions.

Opportunities for Air Quality Improvement Maintaining and improving air quality in Alberta will require a comprehensive strategy that involves government, industry and individuals each taking appropriate action to reduce emissions from human activity. We believe there are a number of opportunities to address air quality in Alberta. These opportunities include: • focusing on the various sources of emissions, • proactive and collaborative integrated planning, • using or developing promising technologies or processes for pollution control and prevention, and • increasing our knowledge and understanding of air quality issues and of what we can all do to protect and improve the air that we breathe. 12

Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

What do you think is important to include in a Clean Air Strategy for Alberta? All of your responses will be combined with those of other respondents and reported as percentages and/or common themes. You will not be identified by any of your responses.

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1. How would you describe the overall air quality in Alberta, as a whole?

Tell Us What You Think

[ ] Poor [ ] Not very good [ ] Good [ ] Excellent [ ] Do not know

2. How would you describe the air quality in the area where you live? [ ] Poor [ ] Not very good [ ] Good [ ] Excellent [ ] Do not know

3. When you think about air quality where you live, what problems or issues are most important to you?

www.clearairalberta.ca

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

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4. When you think about air quality in Alberta, what problems or issues are most important to you?

Tell Us What You Think



5. What specific actions should government take to reduce air pollution?

6. What specific actions should industries take to reduce air pollution?

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

7. In addition to government and industry, individual Albertans can also take action to help improve air quality where they live. a) What specific actions are you currently taking to improve air quality where you live? Please list all that apply.

Tell Us What You Think

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b) What specific actions would you be willing to take to improve air quality, but are not currently taking? For each action, please tell us what would help you to take this action. 1st suggested action Would help me take action 2nd suggested action Would help me take action 3rd suggestion action Would help me take action

8. Is there any other advice or information you would give to CASA to help inform the development of a Clean Air Strategy for Alberta? www.clearairalberta.ca

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

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1. How would you describe your own understanding of air quality issues in Alberta?

To help us understand and categorize your responses, please answer the following questions.

[ ] Poor

[ ] Not very good

[ ] Good

[ ] Excellent

[ ] Do not know

2. What type of community do you live in? [ ] City [ ] Town or village [ ] Municipal district or county [ ] Other (please specify)

3. Please provide the first three characters of your postal code (see example below).

T

5

K

4. Are you answering this questionnaire as a: [ ] Private citizen [ ] Representative of a private company [ ] Representative of government [ ] Representative of an environmental or health interest group [ ] Representative of an Aboriginal community or group [ ] Other (please specify)

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

5. How old are you? [ ] 12 to 17 years [ ] 18 to 24 years This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

[ ] 25 to 34 years [ ] 35 to 44 years [ ] 45 to 54 years [ ] 55 to 64 years [ ] 65 and over

THANK YOU for your input!

Thank You

Please submit your completed survey to Clean Air Strategic Alliance 10035 108 Street, NW, Floor 10 Edmonton AB T5J 3E1 or fax to 780 422 3127. Your ideas will be used to help design the new Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. Check the Clean Air Strategy website at www.clearairalberta.ca for updates on the strategy process and release of the final report, expected in 2009.

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Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta

10035 108 Street NW, Flr 10 Edmonton AB T5J 3E1 Hotline: 1 866 930 7AIR (7247) www.clearairalberta.ca

This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

A Clean Air Strategy For A Healthy Alberta

10035 108 Street NW, Flr 10 Edmonton AB T5J 3E1 Hotline: 1 866 930 7AIR (7247) www.clearairalberta.ca

This copy is for archival purposes only. Please contact the publisher for the original version.

Discussion Guide and Questionnaire • 2008

www.clearairalberta.ca