Vol. 147, No. 23 — June 8, 2013




Notice of intent to develop regulations to further limit emissions of smog-forming air pollutants from new cars and light trucks and to reduce the sulphur content of gasoline

Notice is hereby given that the Department of the Environment intends to develop regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) to further limit emissions of smog-forming air pollutant from new cars and light trucks and to reduce the sulphur content of gasoline. These regulations will align with those of the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency.


Reducing the effects of air pollution on the health of Canadians and their environment is a key commitment by the Government of Canada.

The operation of vehicles results in the emission of air pollutants which contributes to the formation of smog. Smog refers to a noxious mixture of gases and particles that often appears as a haze in the air that has been linked to a number of adverse effects on health and the environment. The two primary pollutants in smog are ground-level ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM). High levels of smog are typically associated with the summer due to the presence of sunlight and warmer temperatures. However, the smog problem actually occurs throughout the year, with winter smog (due to particulate matter contributions rather than ozone) being a serious concern when stagnant air causes a build-up of pollutants in the air, including those resulting from vehicle usage.

Smog has been identified as a contributing factor in thousands of premature deaths across the country each year, as well as in increased hospital visits, doctor visits and hundreds of thousands of lost days at work and school. Environmental problems attributed to smog include effects on vegetation, structures, and visibility and haze (mainly due to fine PM).

Building on the success of existing regulations and approaches

Pursuant to CEPA 1999, the Government of Canada currently regulates emissions of smog-forming air pollutants from new vehicles and the sulphur content of gasoline pursuant to the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations, respectively. These complementary regulatory actions were put in place as part of an integrated systems approach to vehicles and fuels to effectively reduce air pollutant emissions resulting from the operation of vehicles. With respect to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations phased-in more stringent smog-forming emission standards over the 2004–2009 model years, in alignment with U.S. federal Tier 2 standards. Since sulphur that is present in gasoline impairs the performance of catalytic converters equipped on vehicles, the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations required sulphur levels in Canadian gasoline to average no more than 30 parts per million (ppm) with a maximum of 80 ppm beginning in 2005, in alignment with U.S. levels. This ensured that the sulphur content of gasoline would be compatible with the emission control technology on Tier 2 vehicles that was entering the Canadian market.

In order to comply with the above regulations, the Canadian automotive and petroleum industries have made significant investments in new technologies and upgrades for new vehicles and refineries. These efforts have resulted in important reductions in smog-forming emissions from the fleet of vehicles operated in Canada. Nonetheless, continued advances in vehicle engine and emission control technologies provide the opportunity to build on past successes and introduce a new generation of vehicles having even better emission performance.

In 2009, the Government of Canada worked in co-operation with the automotive and petroleum industries to complete a technical review of a number of fuel quality parameters, including sulphur in gasoline. The government-industry technical working group recommended that the Government of Canada work jointly with the United States to determine benefits and costs of further reduction of gasoline sulphur levels.

On March 29, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publicly released a notice of proposed rulemaking known as the proposed “Tier 3” rule. (see footnote 1) The proposed rulemaking includes more stringent emission standards to significantly improve the smog-forming emission performance of new cars and light trucks (e.g. including light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some of the lighter heavy-duty vehicles) beginning with the 2017 model year, with the general objective of aligning with the state of California’s stringent Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) III program. The Tier 3 proposed rule also includes requirements to reduce the average sulphur content of gasoline beginning in 2017 to ensure the effective operation of advanced emission control technologies on 2017 and later model year vehicles. Lower sulphur levels are also expected to deliver increased health benefits for Canadians through reductions in air pollutants from the in-use vehicle fleet by enhancing the performance of their emission control systems, and can also enable new vehicle technologies or strategies that can improve GHG emission performance.

Environment Canada is committed to continue working closely with the U.S. EPA to maintain a common Canada–United States approach to regulating air pollutant emissions from 2017 and later model year vehicles and to ensure that sulphur in content of Canadian gasoline continues to be in line with U.S. levels. This approach will build on the long history of regulatory alignment between the two countries on vehicle emissions pursuant to the Canada–U.S. Air Quality Agreement and more recently within the policy objectives of the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council. Continuing to take an integrated systems approach to vehicles and fuels is critical to maximizing future reductions in air pollutant emissions. In addition to providing important benefits to the health of Canadians and the environment, common Canada–United States standards will help preserve the competitiveness of Canadian industry, provide regulatory certainty to industry, and will lower the compliance costs and administrative burden for Canadian companies, which will ultimately benefit consumers.

In October 2012, under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the environment announced that they are taking further action to protect the health of Canadians and the environment with measures to improve air quality in Canada, through a comprehensive new Air Quality Management System (AQMS). The AQMS includes a number of key elements such as new Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) to set the bar for outdoor air quality management across the country. The AQMS recognizes that emissions from mobile sources (e.g. transportation and small engines) are a major source of air pollution in many parts of the country, especially in urban areas, and that multiple jurisdictions are responsible for managing these emissions. Accordingly, the AQMS also includes an intergovernmental working group to improve collaboration and develop a plan to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. The continued development and implementation of stringent national standards in Canada that are aligned with those of the United States to further reduce air pollutant emissions from mobile sources will make an important contribution to achieving the objectives of the AQMS.

Potential changes to vehicle emission and sulphur in gasoline regulations

Based on a policy of maintaining alignment with the U.S. EPA’s proposed Tier 3 emission standards for new vehicles of the 2017 and later model years, Environment Canada is considering proposing amendments to the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations, including the following principle elements:

  • — progressively decreasing fleet average emission standards for the sum of “Non-Methane Organic Gas + NOx emissions” with a related system for generating, banking and trading emission credits;
  • — more stringent PM emission standards;
  • — more stringent standards to limit evaporative emissions;
  • — extension of the useful life period for compliance with emission standards; and
  • — changes to emission test procedures and test fuel specifications.

Similarly, Environment Canada is considering proposing amendments to the Sulphur in Gasoline Regulations, principally including an annual average standard of 10 ppm for the sulphur content of gasoline for refiners and importers effective January 1, 2017. Other elements of the U.S. EPA’s proposed Tier 3 gasoline standards may be considered as part of consultations and analysis moving forward.

Once fully phased-in, the proposed U.S. fleet-average Tier 3 emission standards are expected to reduce maximum allowable emissions of smog-forming air pollutants (i.e. NOx + VOCs) by approximately 80% relative to the current Tier 2 standards. In addition, the maximum allowable average sulphur limit in gasoline is expected to be reduced by more than 65% (i.e. from 30 ppm to 10 ppm), contributing to enhanced emission performance from both new vehicles and the in-use fleets of vehicles.

Next steps

The Minister of the Environment intends to initiate a process to develop regulations under CEPA 1999 to further limit emissions of smog-forming air pollutants from new light vehicles and to reduce the sulphur content of gasoline. This process will include consultations with representatives of provincial and territorial governments, industry, non-governmental organizations, the public and other stakeholders. Input received during these consultations will be considered during the development of the regulations. Proposed regulatory amendments are intended to be developed for prepublication in the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ. A statutory consultation period will follow, during which interested parties will have an opportunity to make written comments specific to regulatory proposals.

Environment Canada will also continue to work closely with the U.S. EPA towards the continued implementation of common national standards to reduce air pollution from vehicles and fuels.

As a first step in the consultation process, interested parties may submit comments on the general approach set out above by mail or email before July 8, 2013, to

Steve McCauley
Director General
Energy and Transportation Directorate
Environment Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard, 13th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3
Fax: 819-953-9547
Email: steve.mccauley@ec.gc.ca





Name and position

Order in Council

Welsh, The Hon. B. Gale


Government of Newfoundland and Labrador




May 29 to May 31, 2013


May 31, 2013

Official Documents Registrar





Name and position

Order in Council

Parliamentary Secretaries to the


Adams, Eve


Minister of Veterans Affairs


Alexander, Chris


Minister of National Defence


Anderson, David L.


Minister of Natural Resources; Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food


Bergen, Candice


Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness


Brown, Lois


Minister for International Cooperation


Calandra, Paul


Minister of Canadian Heritage


Carrie, Colin


Minister of Health


Dechert, Bob


Minister of Foreign Affairs


Del Mastro, Dean


Prime Minister; President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada


Dykstra, Rick


Minister of Citizenship and Immigration


Glover, Shelly


Minister of Finance


Goguen, Robert


Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada


Gourde, Jacques


Minister of Public Works and Government Services; Minister of Canadian Heritage; Minister of Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec


Kamp, Randy


Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; Minister of Transport


Keddy, Gerald


Minister for International Trade; Minister for the purposes of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act; Minister of Transport


Lake, Mike


Minister of Industry


Leitch, Kellie


Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development; Minister of Labour


Lemieux, Pierre


Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food


Leung, Chungsen


Minister of Citizenship and Immigration


Lukiwski, Tom


Leader of the Government in the House of Commons


McLeod, Cathy


Minister of National Revenue


Obhrai, Deepak


Minister of Foreign Affairs


Poilievre, Pierre


Minister of Transport; Minister of Industry


Rickford, Greg


Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; Minister of Health; Minister of Industry


Rempel, Michelle


Minister of the Environment


Saxton, Andrew


President of the Treasury Board; Minister of Western Economic Diversification


Truppe, Susan


Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development


May 30, 2013

Official Documents Registrar


  • Footnote 1
    The proposed rule released on March 29 is the unofficial version that was signed by the Acting Administrator of the U.S. EPA and submitted for publication in the Federal Register. The official version of the proposed rule was subsequently published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2013.