What is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999?

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 What is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999?
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  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) was implemented on March 31, 2000, to protect the environment and human health from pollution.
  • CEPA 1999 aims to minimize emissions produced from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines.
  • CEPA 1999 prohibits any transboundary movements of hazardous wastes or hazardous recyclable materials without a permit.

The government of Canada introduced the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) for promoting sustainable development and conserving environmental and human health. But what is it and how does it work?

CEPA 1999 was implemented on March 31, 2000. It includes policy on several issues, such as the handling of toxic materials.

The government of Canada undertakes the following

  • Protecting the environment and biological diversity
  • Promoting pollution prevention
  • Encouraging participation of the public
  • Applying and enforcing the CEPA Act fairly

There are various guiding principles of the CEPA Act including pollution prevention, sustainable development, national standards, ecosystem approach, virtual elimination, and others.

Pollution prevention is a process that can be done by using environmentally friendly products, materials, practices, substances, and several other ways that focus on minimizing pollutants and waste development to help in mitigating risk to the environment and human health.

The ecosystem approach considers an interconnection between air, water, land, and human activities. It recognizes social, economic, and environmental factors that impact the environment.

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How does CEPA manage emissions from transportation?

Transportation is one of the main sources that contribute to air pollution in Canada.  The internal combustion engines used for powering vehicles cause air pollution which develops volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. The burning of fuels in cars, trucks, and several other factors affect the health and environment of Canada.

CEPA 1999 includes a responsibility to regulate emissions from on-road vehicles. It has the provision to control fuel quality and also allows engines emissions regulation.

By developing and implementing regulated emission performance standards for vehicles, engines, and equipment manufacturing in Canada, CEPA is aiming to minimize emissions produced from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines.

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How does CEPA manage hazardous waste?

Hazardous wastes are leftovers or residues, including solvents, acids and bases, and others developed by oil refining, chemical manufacturing, and metal processing industries.

For example, old car batteries and oil-based paints used by consumers become hazardous waste when they are not in use. If there is no proper storage, treatment, and disposal operations for hazardous waste, then certain chemicals present in them can have a damaging effect on human health and the environment.

CEPA 1999 prohibits any transboundary movements of hazardous wastes or hazardous recyclable materials until it is approved via a permit. CEPA 1999 regulates interprovincial movements of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials.

International air and water pollution

The international air and water pollution provisions take care of air and water pollution that can be developed by Canadian sources. It monitors any breaking of international agreements binding on Canada.

What is an environmental emergency?

When a substance is released accidentally and uncontrollably that can have a damaging effect on the environment and human health, it comes under the environmental emergency powers of CEPA 1999. For example, the accidental release of a hazardous substance from a ship into the sea counts as an environmental emergency.

CEPA 1999's environmental emergency provisions allow the government to regulate and take steps to prevent, respond, prepare, and recover from environmental emergencies.

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Bottom line

Our life depends on the environment, but it is deteriorating day by day. So, to prevent and control the degradation of land, water, and air, the government of Canada has implemented CEPA 1999.

Through this act, the government of Canada is trying to manage environmental and human health, which is affected by toxic and other harmful substances, including marine pollution, equipment emissions, and hazardous wastes.


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