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Canadin Prime Minister Says New Clean Air Act Coming

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 10, 2006
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday his government would unveil a tough law next week to curb air pollution and greenhouse gases that cause global warming, but only in the long term. "Canada's clean air act will allow us to move industry from voluntary compliance to strict regulation. It will replace the current ad hoc patchwork system with clear, consistent and comprehensive national standards," Harper told reporters.

"And it will institute a holistic approach that doesn't treat the related issues of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in isolation," he said, flanked by Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

But the regulatory framework "will take time to put in place," as it requires further consultations with industry stakeholders, and results would likely only be felt "over the long term," he added.

While offering few details, Harper also said harnessing new environmental technologies would play a big role in reducing bad emissions.

"While we will be spending money in this area, where we really want to make progress is by making sure that there's regulation that encourages industry over time to make the technological changes necessary to reduce emissions," he said.

Environmental groups criticized Harper's Conservative government for failing to take action so far on the issue so far, accusing him of stalling.

"It's clear that this government is committed to postponing action on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol," said John Bennett, president of the Climate Action Network.

Stephen Hazell of the Sierra Club of Canada said a new law was "unnecessary" and "a recipe for delay" because Canada's existing clean air act could more quickly and easily be amended to stem emissions.

Otherwise, proposed legislation would take five to seven years to become law, he said.

In a letter, 50 environmental groups asked Harper to embrace the Kyoto Protocol, despite his dislike for the international accord; to build on Canada's existing air quality law; to force industries responsible for half of Canada's emissions to curb their output; and to implement firm targets.

In his speech, he did not address any of these concerns, said environmental activists.

But, Harper's overture to apply "intensity-based targets" that would reduce emissions incrementally as industrial output increases instead of firm targets for total reduced emissions drew the strongest criticisms.

"This guarantees that emissions will continue to rise ... We need hard targets," said Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation.

EU to censure nine member states on carbon emissions
Helsinki (AFP) Oct 10 - The European Commission on Tuesday said it was to launch proceedings against nine EU countries this week for failing to present plans on how they intend to cut CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.

"As of yesterday (Monday), 16 national allocation plans of CO2 had been presented. We are going to start infringement procedures in a few days" against the nine countries that have failed to submit plans, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told reporters in Helsinki.

The Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Austria will all be put on formal notice on Thursday, according to a spokesman for Dimas.

"We are going to be tough but fair. We are determined to achieve our Kyoto protocol targets" on reducing CO2 emissions, Dimas added.

The 25-member bloc had set the end of June as the deadline for countries to declare their national allocation plans according to the Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the 2008-2012 period.

The ETS, one of the core mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, aims at reducing pollution by big industry, but only relates to carbon dioxide emissions.

Participants are set a quota of emissions and face stiff financial penalties for every tonne of CO2 that breaches this threshold.

Companies that are below their quota can sell surplus emissions rights to firms that are above their quota.

The 15 members of the European Union prior to May 2004 have pledged to reduce emissions by eight percent by 2012 as compared with a benchmark of 1990.

Countries also risk censure if their plans do not conform to guidelines laid down by Brussels, Dimas warned.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Albuquerque NM (SPX) Oct 11, 2006
Sandia National Laboratories researchers are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), University of Cincinnati and Argonne National Laboratory to develop contaminant warning systems that can monitor municipal water systems to determine quickly when and where a contamination occurs.

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