Divisions 4 and 5 of Part 7 of Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999) include provisions to control the quality of fuels as well as emission characteristics of vehicles, engines and equipment. The government has greater flexibility to control fuel qualities under CEPA 1999. It allows for a performance based approach to fuel standards rather than relying on a specific formula. It also provides for maximums, minimums or a range of characteristics to be set. Other provisions include more flexibility in the authority to make regulations concerning different sources of fuels, the place or time of use of the fuel, and the controls where a fuel might affect the operation of emissions control equipment. There are also provisions for a "national fuels mark" that could be used to promote a national standard for fuel where certain characteristics may be desirable but, in themselves might not contribute to a significant reduction in air pollution.
Vehicle emissions are the largest source of a number of key air pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide (CO). Fuels that are burned in cars and trucks and in stationary equipment, also contain sulphur. When burned, sulphur produces sulphur dioxide (SO2) and sulphate particulate matter. These substances are directly related to adverse health effects.
Pollutant emissions can be effectively controlled through improvements to fuel quality and through stringent vehicle emission standards. In addition, the more sophisticated technologies used in cars and trucks require that engines and fuels be treated as a system where overall environmental performance depends on vehicle-fuel compatibility. With authorities for both the fuel and vehicles in CEPA 1999, there are better opportunities to ensure that a system approach is taken.
Current standards in place for vehicles and fuels include the following: for gasoline there are currently limits under CEPA on lead, benzene and sulphur; for diesel there is a maximum limit on sulphur for diesel for on-road use; emissions standards for light and heavy-duty vehicles from the Motor Vehicle Safety Act will continue in effect under CEPA 1999.
A 10 year plan of action has been made public regarding actions for cleaner vehicles, engines and fuels. There are a number of issues, including potential quality improvements to gasoline, diesel and fuel oils as well as incorporation of new standards for both on-road and off-road vehicles and engines.
For more information regarding cleaner fuels, engines and vehicles, please consult the Environment Canada website: