The June 29 version of the Environmental Registry confirmed Ontario Regulation 280/07, a law that prevents companies from burning waste oil for heat as of June 1, 2009.
Truck News has been covering this story in recent months and the coverage has sparked much criticism of the provincial government. This initiative appears to be politically-motivated and the province has provided no scientific evidence that the use of waste oil heaters has a negative impact on the environment.
In fact, in many jurisdictions, waste oil heaters are encouraged as an environmentally responsible use of waste oil. Nonetheless, the province has gone ahead with this nonsensical law, with little regard to concerns voiced by industry.
Consider this, during a comment period, the ministry received a total of 560 comments; 117 in support; 441 not in support; and two neutral. Overwhelmingly, those who contacted the ministry were opposed to the ban.
Here are some of the common themes addressed during the public comment period:
The proposed regulation does not have any data (e.g., exceeding allowable emissions from space heaters, evidence of detrimental effects to the environment) or any other scientific information to support the government’s decision to ban the burning of used oil in space heaters. The government has not studied the issue in enough detail to make this decision.
The proposed ban does not include northern Ontario. If there is a risk to human health from the burning of used oil, the ban should extend to the entire province.
The overall emissions from the collection of used oil across the province, including the re-refining of oil, would far exceed that of the emissions from used oil space heaters. Spills are more likely to occur and damage the environment.
Used oil pick-up cost will increase if the proposal is put in place and may be illegally dumped to avoid the charges.
There will be a loss of revenue to small business owners since their heating cost will increase significantly. Also, a significant investment has been made to purchase and install the used oil space heating equipment. Businesses will close due to the incremental operating cost associated with heating a facility.
The ministry did not actively go out and consult with manufacturers, distributors and owners of space heater before announcing the draft regulation to the public.
Burning used oil in space heaters can burn as clean as and more efficient than some household oil burning furnaces. Replacement fuel will be less environmentally friendly as the total CO2 emissions associated with its production and transportation will be higher than that of burning used oil in space heaters:
a. Natural gas is not readily available
b. Wood is extremely inefficient.
Despite all these valid arguments, the ministry has gone ahead with the ban. Something to think about with a provincial election looming.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies