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Rail industry ushering in emission regulations

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Four Canadian railway companies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in an effort ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Four Canadian railway companies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in an effort to reduce air pollution consistent with requirements of standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Via Rail and Go Transit signed on to the MOU, which aims to help Canada turn the corner on climate change and build towards its goal of a 150 megatonne absolute GHG reduction by 2020.

“We will begin to regulate emissions from the rail industry in 2011, but while regulations are being put in place, this agreement provides a framework for realizing reductions in both air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions,” explained John Baird, Minister of Environment.

In short, the railways have collectively agreed to: adopt greenhouse gas targets that will reduce GHG emissions; prepare an action plan for GHG emissions reduction; purchase only new, EPA-certified locomotives; and upgrade existing in-service locomotives when they are overhauled, beginning in 2010, to the EPA standards in effect at that time.

“This new MOU is the result of careful negotiations,” stated Cliff Mackay, president and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. “It will help ensure significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions without compromising the railway industry’s ability to provide a high quality of service to its customers.”

This agreement is similar to the approach taken in the auto sector in which voluntary action is to be followed by a regulation. Next steps include the federal government working with the rail industry to reach MOU goals and consulting with them to put regulations in place in 2011.

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