House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was united.

Topics

Free Trade Agreements
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there agreement to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.?

Free Trade Agreements
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Free Trade Agreements
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

It being 6:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

moved that Bill C-235, an act to protect human health and the environment by oxygenating automotive fuels, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, the principle behind this bill is quite simple. In fact, the gasoline used in our cars, both public and private vehicles, is a great source of pollution. It contains seven pollutants, each more harmful than the other.

The idea behind the bill is the following: the more oxygen you put in gasoline, the less polluting it is. The more we manage to clean gasoline through oxygenation, the less pollution there will be.

In fact, public transportation is the largest contributor to air pollution. In terms of the seven air pollutants, transportation contributes from 19% to up to 60% of emissions.

For instance, public transportation accounts for 31% of CO

2

emissions. By transportation, I mean general transportation, whether it is private, institutional or public. It also accounts for 41% of nitrogen oxide emissions.

I need not get into what air pollution means in terms of health problems, heart disease and respiratory diseases. We need not get into details, with the striking examples we find in our hospitals. In some of our communities, air pollution has caused all sorts of problems that have forced thousands of people to visit the hospital for heart or respiratory conditions.

The more we can purify our fuel through oxygenation, the less polluted the air will be. In fact, certain countries have experimented with unrefined fuels; one of these countries is Brazil, where 3.6 million vehicles run on ethanol made from sugar cane bagasse. There are 3.6 million vehicles running on pure ethanol.

Japan passed legislation to make the addition of 10% ethanol mandatory. Japan figured that, once the legislation is in force in a few years, air pollution will be reduced by 1% in relation to its Kyoto target, which is 6%. The use of fuel made purer by the addition of 10% ethanol will account for a 1% reduction in pollution.

In general, ethanol represents 40% to 80% less carbon dioxide than conventional gasoline. Since 1990 the United States has made huge efforts, compared to ours here, to produce ethanol fuel. The United States consumes seven billion litres of ethanol annually. In the year 2000, 28 U.S. states legislated oxygenation of their gasoline.

I modelled my bill on the Minnesota model. Minnesota legislated oxygenation of its fuel in 1997. Since then, because of the Minnesota law, 10 ethanol plants have been created. Minnesota now uses 869 million litres of ethanol per year. In Chicago, only oxygenated gasoline, called oxy-fuel, is available for sale. The Chicago area uses 225 billion litres of ethanol a year.

Here in Canada we are really almost at the stage of infancy in regard to our production of ethanol. It must be admitted that the federal government has undergone certain programs with the provinces of Canada to arrive at various reductions of air pollutant components such as sulphurs and carbon dioxide in the climate change program, et cetera. It has also agreed under the climate change program to arrive at a level of 35% ethanol by 2010, representing 500 million litres of gasoline.

My bill will only accelerate the climate change program and the measures already taken by the government to purify our gasoline. Right now what we use in our gasoline as an additive is MMT, which is manganese based. By using oxygenation in our fuel and substituting ethanol in our gasoline, not only would we reduce pollution, we would improve the octane of cars and make our cars more efficient. We would ensure a direct benefit to our environment and reduce air pollution and disease and all the various effects of a constant pollution represented by our transportation.

I do not know if the rules applied when I produced the bill before the committee. Sadly, my bill will not be votable and I deplore this. I am grateful that the system has now been changed. I have been in the House for 10 years. I have produced several bills before the private members' bills committee. Twice my name has come up in the draw and twice my bills have been judged not votable, and I deplore it completely. When it is a measure which is of public interest, which will improve the environment and the health of Canadians at large, I find it very sad that due to a system that is so arbitrary my bill today will consist of a discussion for an hour and then die on the Order Paper.

I hope that the House will consider giving me consent to make the bill votable, because I would like it to be judged by my peers.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to make the item votable?

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in the debate on Bill C-235.

Philosophically I do not have a lot of problems with what the bill is proposing. It is fancied up a little in the sense that it proposes oxygenating fuel, which is just another way of saying blending ethanol with gasoline, and for the government to promote or to legislate the mandatory use of ethanol in gasoline. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing.

What it boils down to is whether the taxpayers and the drivers of automobiles in this country are willing to pay the costs to make that process economically viable. From all indications I have seen, especially over the last year with gasoline prices, the public seems to be extremely sensitive to gasoline prices and I really doubt that they are willing to spend the kind of money to fill the tanks in their cars that would be required to produce a viable ethanol industry.

Quite frankly, the ethanol industry could not survive in Canada without the excise tax subsidy that it enjoys today. Even with that subsidy it is only marginally viable and is very dependent on the cost of the feed stock going into the ethanol plant, whether that be grain, fibre or crop residue of some kind.

Unless the plant can access those feed stocks at an extremely low price, the plant just cannot be economical. Certainly with crop residues on the prairies, we are looking at $70 or $80 a tonne for residue straw from the crop. Iogen Corporation, the pilot project right here in Ottawa that is making ethanol out of grain straw, certainly cannot pay that kind of money and it has been very upfront about that.

The proposal to have governments legislate or mandate whatever that level of ethanol would be is really not possible until there is the amount of ethanol produced in this country to make it possible. That would be a huge amount of ethanol and that will only happen when the economics are right and plants can produce the ethanol and make a dollar at it and I think we are a way from that.

There are other problems with the ethanol industry that bear looking at. The member is quite right in saying that there is some reduction in tailpipe emissions in pollution over pure gasoline to gasoline that is blended with ethanol. At a 10% blend that gain is relatively small. If one looks at the complete cycle in the production of ethanol as well as tailpipe emissions, the gain for the environment is relatively small.

There are some real problems to overcome in the industry before the member's idea could really become a reality. There are certainly other technologies on the way that are equally as attractive as ethanol. Perhaps the economics may turn out to be better as well. In the full life cycle, the amount of energy it takes to produce a litre of ethanol has to be taken into account when looking at the savings for the environment or for human health.

Ethanol is a difficult product to blend with gasoline. Where gasoline generally can be moved all across the country through pipelines at a relatively small cost, that is not the case with ethanol. The alcohol, which ethanol essentially is, has a tendency to separate from the gasoline in the pipeline and does not make transportation by pipeline possible. Therefore it requires that the ethanol be trucked from the point of production to the point of sale. Again, we have to figure in the pollution caused by the trucking of the ethanol versus transporting ethanol by pipeline.

There is another big issue. If governments are going to consider mandating or legislating a minimum amount of ethanol blend in gasoline, governments will have to look at the whole issue of government taxation on gasoline, whether that be blended gasoline or straight fossil fuel gasoline.

Last summer government taxation on gasoline was a big issue across the country. Even some service stations now are advertising their tax exempt price on gasoline and then adding the tax on at the till. People are absolutely shocked to find, depending on where the price of gas is, that almost half the price of a litre of gasoline is tax.

If the government is going to be serious about this issue and promotes the use of ethanol without those dreaded subsidies which the member presenting the bill continuously talks about in the fossil fuel industry, if we are going to produce a viable industry that can stand on its own without subsidization, then we have to look at how that product is taxed at the pump.

That is where we could make the product more attractive. It could be made attractive enough to consumers so that they would be willing to use the blended gasoline rather than straight gasoline. We have not seen any willingness on the part of government to reduce taxes on gasoline. In fact the opposite has probably been true rather than a willingness to reduce taxes.

I receive letters in my office all the time from constituents and people across the country who have discovered that as the cost of gasoline rises, the amount of tax on the gasoline also rises. The GST is based on a percentage and it is added on after the provincial and federal excise taxes. It is a tax on a tax. Most consumers find that very offensive. The government has to do something about that if it is going to be serious about promoting this new kind of fuel.

As I said before, there are other technologies that are as attractive or more attractive than ethanol. Biodiesel and even the diesel technologies that exist in Europe are so far ahead of where we are in North America. There is a huge potential for them as a bridge between gasoline and diesel into the new technologies of hydrogen that are around the corner in this country. We could make huge gains and huge improvements in pollution levels with biodiesel. The technology to capture the particulate exhaust from diesel trucks is there now. We could take huge advantage of that and I think the economics are more realistic.

The other one is hydrogen and the hydrogen fuel cell car. The technology is certainly there. We just have to figure out a way to produce and store the hydrogen and to put it into the tank so that it is safe to transport in a car or truck. That technology is virtually pollution free, producing nothing but pure drinking water out the tailpipe.

The bill has its merits and its idea is laudable, to reduce pollution and improve human health. However, I think there are other technologies that we should look at.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to take part in this debate on a bill moved by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis, namely Bill C-235, An Act to protect human health and the environment by oxygenating automotive fuels.

First, I join my colleague in bemoaning the fact that the committee in charge of making bills votable would not allow the House not only to debate this substantive issue, but also to vote on it.

This is a technical bill. I believe we have the right these days, as a Parliament, not only to vote on some motions, but also to make commitments and real decisions especially with regard to issues related to the environment and sustainable development and to making sustainable development viable for future generations.

I will specifically draw the attention of the House to clause 4 of the bill, which deals with the prohibition of the use and sale of certain gasoline and diesel fuel. It says:

Despite any other Act of Parliament or any regulation under an Act of Parliament, no person shall produce or import for use or sale in Canada or sell or offer for sale in Canada any gasoline or diesel fuel that has an oxygen content of less than 2.7% by weight.

Before tackling the issue of oxygenating automobile fuels, I believe it is important to see where we are at today with regard to additives. Indirectly, this bill is aimed at making sure that some additives such as MMT are used less frequently or even banned. Since the fuel additive MMT has major impacts on public health and the environment I believe it is important to talk about it.

I would remind the House that a 1996 study concluded that the use of this additive in gasoline had the effect of clogging anti-pollution devices, which led to increased pollution of the environment. It was estimated that compared to low-emission vehicles using MMT-free gas, a vehicle using gas containing MMT, after 160,000 kilometres, presented the following characteristics: hydrocarbon emissions were 31% higher when a vehicle used gas with additives like MMT; nitrogen oxide emissions were 24 times higher; carbon monoxide emissions were 14 times higher; emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO

2

, a greenhouse gas, were 2% higher; and finally, fuel efficiency was reduced by 2%.

This demonstrates that the gas used by vehicles is as important as how the vehicles themselves are made. Automobile manufacturers can go ahead and come up with new standards, like ultra-low emissions standards, but if the gas being used is not good enough, the situation is not any better. It is no good having a vehicle described by the manufacturer as an ultra-low emissions vehicle; if the gas being used is not good enough, pollution will not be reduced.

In my mind, that is why we need to legislate. In order to ban MMT, the Americans, among others, used two strategies: one was to magnify the refining process through the increase of aromatic elements or the increase in percentage of branched-chain hydrocarbons. The other strategy was to use oxygenated gasoline.

We are wrong to think that ethanol is the only oxygenated gasoline. Methanol is one, as well as MTBE.

Therefore, two strategies can be used, but the one recommended by the hon. member is totally acceptable.

This bill then should be seen as an enhancement. I agree with the member from the Alliance who said that there are other ways besides the use of the electric car, for instance. The hydrogen car can also be used and might be an option. Let us keep in mind that this bill does not deal with car manufacturing, but rather with the use of gasoline and its constituents.

So, since studies have shown the impact that some additives can have, it would be, I think, in our interest to develop new oxygenation standards and new prescribed standards.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I support this bill, although it is unfortunate that the House will not get to vote on this piece of legislation. Lastly, I want to point out that I support the bill brought forward by my colleague, and I urge all members to do the same.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

York South—Weston
Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to applaud the motivations of my colleague in bringing forward a bill that aims at improving the environmental performance of vehicles through more environmentally acceptable fuels. However, while the government supports the objectives, it does not support the specifics of Bill C-235 to require oxygenates in all Canadian gasoline and diesel fuel within the context, chronology and framework that the member's bill has presented.

Oxygenates are added to fuels to improve combustion and, therefore, decrease carbon monoxide tailpipe emissions, which has environmental merit. Oxygenates that are blended into gasoline include ethanol and methyl tertiary butyl ether, MTBE.

Ethanol is a renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Under our climate change plan the government has targeted increased use of ethanol in Canadian fuels. Ethanol produced from cellulose has the largest greenhouse gas benefits. However, the technology to produce ethanol from cellulose is still being developed.

Although methyl tertiary butyl ether, MTBE, is presently being used in Canada, it has been the oxygenate of choice in the United States where oxygenates were mandated. As members may know, MTBE has caused groundwater contamination south of the border as has been pointed out. We want to prevent this from becoming a problem here in Canada.

The transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants in Canada.

As part of a balanced approach addressing vehicle and fuel technology, behaviour change and infrastructure, we need to increase the supply and use of less carbon intensive fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Increased use of biomass ethanol and biodiesel will not only reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, but will also stimulate innovative Canadian companies already active in the bioeconomy and stimulate potential new income sources for farmers and other sectors.

In co-operation with provincial governments, the Government of Canada has been delivering a comprehensive and stringent program for cleaner vehicles and fuels to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles since 1994. We have in place today a 10 year regulatory road map for cleaner fuels and vehicles that will give Canadians cleaner air to breathe and better protect their health from airborne pollutants.

Never before has the government produced such an agenda for action for a product that all Canadians use. Our 10 year plan of action contains stringent new low emission standards for passenger cars, light duty trucks, sport utility vehicles and new standards for the fuels that power them. With this package, nitrogen oxide emissions, a key ingredient of smog, will be reduced by 90% for the vehicles built in 2004 and beyond.

We are also dealing with the fuels that power these vehicles. In June 1999 the government put regulations in place controlling the sulphur content of gasoline to an average limit of 30 parts per million starting January 1, 2005. The interim requirements for less sulphur in gasoline came into effect this past summer. Also in July the government put in place regulations limiting the sulphur content of diesel fuel to 15 parts per million by 2006. These measures will significantly reduce emissions of harmful substances from the transportation sector.

It is understood that a major tenet of the bill is support for oxygenated fuels, such as ethanol. The government continues to support the use of ethanol through a waiver of the federal excise tax on ethanol used as a fuel and through continued research into the production of ethanol from cellulose and through promotion of the environmental benefits of ethanol.

Action Plan 2000, the Canadian government's response to climate change to meet the Kyoto goal, includes five transportation initiatives, two of which are fuel related. As part of Action Plan 2000, the aim is to increase ethanol production in Canada by 750 million litres per year over the next five years. In effect, this will quadruple the production of ethanol in Canada. When fully implemented this will be equivalent to 25% of Canada's total gasoline supply containing a 10% ethanol blend.

The climate change plan for Canada further commits the government to working with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to increase this target to 35% by 2010. It also indicates that the government is looking at alternatives, such as a standard for a certain percentage of fuel to be greenhouse gas free, which would encourage the development of cellulosic ethanol.

To further encourage the development of biodiesel, the plan proposes that federal, provincial and territorial governments collaborate on how to reach a target of 500 million litres of biodiesel production by 2010 using a variety of tools including incentives, standards and research and development.

An important policy to encourage the use of ethanol is its tax treatment as compared to gasoline. We currently waive the excise tax on the ethanol portion of gasoline to make ethanol blended gasoline more attractive to consumers. The federal budget 2003 extends federal support for ethanol by proposing that the ethanol or methanol portion of blended diesel fuel also be exempted from the federal excise tax on diesel fuel. In addition, it proposes that biodiesel, which is produced from biomass or renewable feedstocks, be exempted from the federal excise tax on diesel fuel when used as a motive fuel or blended with regular diesel fuel.

The government recognizes the key role of provinces, territories and industry in expanding the ethanol markets in Canada. We will negotiate with provinces and territories a national framework for the production and use of ethanol, with voluntary agreements on regional targets.

The Government of Canada will also work with provinces and industry to enable the development and commercialization of high performing technologies such as cellulose-based ethanol.

These actions are in keeping with the government's desire to see the use of clean, renewable fuel expand and thrive in a context for which has been well prepared.

The government has also signaled through its climate change plan that it will work with the auto industry to improve by 25% fleet fuel efficiency by the year 2010. More fuel efficient vehicles save the environment, protect our health and save us money.

The 10 year plan is a major step forward in bringing cleaner air to Canadians but our job is far from finished. We want to engage more Canadians in direct actions they can take and also to empower them to hold governments accountable to meet clean air commitments.

The 10 year plan for cleaner vehicles and fuels is yet another step along the road to cleaner air and healthier Canadians.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is the usual refrain. It is the second time I have presented a bill about oxygenation of gasoline. The government always congratulates me and tells me what a wonderful measure it is but decides against it.

What I would point out to the government is that by 2010, when the federal program, which is not legislated, by the way, will come into force, we will be producing 500 million litres of ethanol blend gasoline. What I will explain to the parliamentary secretary, who pointed out MTBE, is that I am not talking about MTBE. I am just saying that this bill was based on the Minnesota model, which in four years has produced 869 million litres of oxygenated gasoline through ethanol. That is in four years only.

Now in 2003, the United States produces 7 billion litres of ethanol; that is since 1990. It has 1.3 million Ford cars with 85% ethanol blend, while we only have 26 in Canada. Legislation in 28 states in the United States has proven that legislation pushes forward the agenda.

I agree that my timetable might have been short and I would have been quite prepared to change it if the bill had been made votable. I listened to my colleague from the Canadian Alliance who said that it was not very significant anyway. I will just tell him that Japan has legislated 10% ethanol blend gasoline by 2008 and it will reduce its target.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

An hon. member

They had to legislate it.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, would the member allow me to speak, please? If he wanted to intervene, he had time to intervene. He did not choose to, so I do not want to be interrupted by him with all his little interruptions. I want to speak for myself. If he wanted to speak, he had time to speak. If he did not choose to speak then he should keep quiet.

By 2008 Japan will be producing enough ethanol blend gasoline to reduce its Kyoto target of 6% by fully 1%. Perhaps as well the member did not read the bill, because it does include bio-diesel fuels. We are talking about oxygenation of diesel fuel and of gasoline fuels. As I said, oxygenation has been the route taken by 28 states in the United States.

When we talk about all the wonderful things we are going to do by 2010, I would remind the parliamentary secretary that today Scania buses are running with 100% ethanol blend gasoline in Sweden, but here we only have a few cars. I have met Swedish people who are using 85% blend ethanol cars.

I am not a proponent of ethanol necessarily, but at the same time I know, because the parliamentary secretary has quoted Iogen, that the Iogen people have been among the greatest proponents of this bill for cellulose ethanol to put in gasoline.

As far as the prices go, whenever I can, I buy ethanol blend gasoline. It is highly competitive thanks to the 10¢ excise tax rebate. However, I would point out that the United States offers a 23¢ per litre excise tax rebate, instead of 10¢ as we do here, to promote the ethanol industry. Certainly by all standards, if we compare the oxygenation of gas through ethanol or methanol with MMT, which we use today, there is just no comparison. MMT is one of the worst pollutants. It is produced on a base of manganese and it is about time we started to get rid of it.

I am very sorry that in our crazy system we will not have a chance to at least vote on my bill. I regret that one of my colleagues refused the consent motion, because the new rules now would have permitted my bill to go through and to be voted on by my peers, which is really what any parliamentarian wants.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business is now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

Automotive Pollution Reduction Act
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House will suspend to the call of the Chair giving time to the member who is participating in the adjournment proceedings to arrive in the chamber because the private members' business items we have had today have concluded earlier than scheduled.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 7:10 p.m.)

(The House resumed at 7:11 p.m.)

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.