Madam Speaker, I will explain to the House what is in Bill C-94 and why we are taking immediate action against MMT. I will also respond to some of the misplaced concerns expressed by members of the opposition as well as identify why the government is addressing the MMT question.
As many members are now aware, MMT is a manganese based fuel additive used to increase the octane rating of gasoline. It has been used in Canada since 1977 as a replacement for lead in unleaded gasoline. Lead was phased out of virtually all Canadian gasoline by 1990. Canada is one of the few countries that use MMT. The United States banned it from unleaded gasoline in 1978.
Gasoline containing MMT adversely impacts the operation of sophisticated onboard diagnostic systems. These OBD systems are important because they monitor the performance of emission control components in vehicles.
The auto industry has made the decision that it will no longer accept the risk of increased warranty repair costs caused by MMT related damage.
Some companies have even indicated they will disconnect the OBD systems in whole or in part and may reduce Canadian vehicle warranty coverage starting with the 1996 model year if MMT continues to be used in Canadian gasoline. That means the increased cost of maintaining these systems would be passed on directly to the Canadian consumer.
The Canadian Automobile Association is a 3.7 million member consumer advocate organization for automobile owners. During its presentation to the standing committee it articulately outlined concerns facing Canadians both environmentally and economically. It stated that MMT is a heavy metal based fuel additive. When the sensors of the OBDs are coated with the heavy metal they cannot properly detect oxygen.
It is easy to see then that when sensors give a false reading, the warning light signals the motorist and the motorist would bring the car in for unnecessary warranty covered repair work. This cost will undoubtedly be transferred to the consumer down the road in the form of higher automobile sale prices, making already difficult car purchases an impossibility for many prospective car buyers.
Because the new OBDs are an advanced system of detection that catches ignition problems as soon as they fall below standard, the CAA states that the new system of OBDs will be one of the best things that could happen to cars from an environmental perspective, and if MMT would reduce its effectiveness, CAA wholeheartedly endorses a ban on the substance.
Consumers will opt not to use MMT in their fuel. The Reform Party is against this ban. The Reform Party should remember to represent its constituents and not take the position of defending a special interest lobby group against the wishes and protection of the people of Canada.
Who is the Reform Party standing up for, Ethyl Corporation, an American based firm which is the sole manufacturer of MMT? Ethyl Corporation manufactures MMT in the U.S. and ships it to Canada.
The Reform Party claims there is no reason for this bill. It says the minister is unilaterally pushing the legislation through. This process began under the previous government, which saw the necessity to examine the MMT question.
Last October the Minister of the Environment urged both the automotive and petroleum producing industries to voluntarily resolve the issue of MMT in Canada by the end of 1994, otherwise the government would take action. This deadline was subsequently extended into February of this year to review automobile and petroleum industry proposals.
The matter was not resolved and so the federal government has had to step in. The result is Bill C-94. The MMT issue is no longer an industry dispute and this is important to understand. Its outcome can affect the vehicle emissions programs we are putting into place. It could also negatively impact the automotive sector which would pass the newly incurred costs on to the Canadian consumer.
Some members of the House have gone so far as to suggest MMT creates great benefits for Canada's environment. They suggest that nitrous oxide emissions are reduced by 20 per cent when MMT is used. What they do not say is that this claim is based on data collected by Ethyl Corporation, the makers of MMT, from test cars that were driven 50,000 to 110,000 miles. This was then extrapolated to 195,000 miles.
This does not take into consideration the adverse wear and tear of the automobile which is degraded over time. Because of this it has been determined that there has been no rigorous scientific basis for applying the Ethyl Corporation's average emission values to Canada-wide projections.
When examined in the context of the current Canadian fleet, Environment Canada's analysis indicates that NOx reduction would be only about 5 per cent. This has been substantiated by the University of Waterloo institute for improvement in quality and productivity. The report also indicates that the results of a study by Ethyl Corporation on reduction of NOx emissions greatly overestimates the reductions in NOx.
The Ethyl Corporation experiments have not been shown to be representative of field vehicle use, and the scientific rigour of the experiments is uncertain.
Ethyl's research was conducted and presented by a private consultant from the U.S. When I asked about the extreme differences in statistical data between the Ethyl Corporation report and the University of Waterloo analysis, she replied: "Statistics is not an exact science. There isn't only one right way to look at a set of numbers".
As every member of the House knows, the University of Waterloo is a Canadian university whose research is of national and international acclaim. The University of Waterloo does not have a particular vested interest, being a public university. So whose interpretation of the statistics is more likely to be in the public interest?
What would the Reform Party know about scientifically proven environmental concerns? Very little. This is the same Reform Party whose member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia stated earlier in the House: "There is an awful lot of voodoo science around with respect to the effects of man made carbon dioxide on global warming". Can anyone believe this? Voodoo science?
I am continuously shocked by statements made by the Reform members who choose to ignore accepted realities. Ninety-nine of the one hundred and ninety-six living Nobel Laureate scientists along with roughly 2,000 other world scientists jointly signed an urgent warning to humanity. In their declaration they appealed to the people of the world to take immediate action to halt the accelerating damage threatening humanity's global life support systems.
I quote from their media release when I say human activities may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner we know. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided. This kind of consensus is truly unprecedented.
The urgent appeal goes on to say that no more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to revert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.
The Reform Party openly scorns the leading scientists of our planet. Voodoo science? Is the Reform Party suggesting the Nobel Prize is a mystical, voodoo award?
To return to the claim by Ethyl Corporation of a 20 per cent reduction of NOx emissions, if this 20 per cent reduction claim were true, why would the people who make cars in this country be working hard to make onboard diagnostic systems so advanced if MMT fuel could do the job by itself? The reason they are working hard is simple. MMT does not provide the answers to NOx reduction that its makers claim. Let us be very clear about this.
Los Angeles has some of the worst pollution problems in North America. California has taken strong action against environmental pollutants, including a ban on the use of MMT. If MMT is what Ethyl Corporation and the Reform Party advocate as a product to reduce NOx emissions, perhaps they should consider why the state of California has acted decisively on the issue.
Canada is one of the few countries that uses MMT. While we are on the topic, some members opposite are citing a recent U.S. court hearing in favour of the Ethyl Corporation, the producers of MMT. MMT will still be banned in California and in those states that require federal reformulated gasolines to be used. That means 30 per cent of the United States will continue with the ban on the use of MMT in fuel.
Furthermore, witnesses have told the committee that given the negative consumer attitudes toward MMT it is very likely consumers will demand to use MMT free gasoline, just as the consumers have chosen to use unleaded gasoline. What is more, we have yet to see if the U.S. government will appeal the decision.
Some members opposite also quite conveniently fail to talk about what the onboard diagnostic system does and what can happen if and when MMT causes the system to fail. Onboard diagnostic systems are designed to monitor the performance of pollution control systems, in particular the catalytic converter, and alert the driver to malfunctions.
If the OBD system is not working a 50 per cent reduction in the efficiency of the catalyst translates into a twofold increase in emissions compared with a properly functioning vehicle. What we are talking about is the failure of new emissions technology in automobiles resulting in increased car emissions harmful to our environment.
Let us also be clear about the economic impact of removing MMT. Some members of the House have suggested the cost would be in the billions of dollars. In fact the costs will be small for the entire petroleum industry. Estimates of the costs of MMT removal provided by the industry itself range from $50 million to $83
million per year which means an additional one-tenth to one-quarter of a cent per litre increase at the pumps.
Furthermore, likely alternatives to MMT would be produced in Canada, creating more jobs and opportunities for Canadians, whereas MMT is produced exclusively in the U.S. My question to the members of the Reform Party is why are they opposing this bill? Whose interests are they protecting?
The bill has a number of important improvements for Canadians. here are some of the key highlights of the bill. It will prohibit the import or interprovincial trade for a commercial purpose of MMT or anything containing MMT. It will give the minister the power to authorize exceptions for MMT that will not be used in unleaded gasoline subject to a monitoring requirement. Coverage of the act can be expanded by order in council to cover other manganese based substances used in automotive fuel.
The act is binding on all persons and entities including the federal and provincial governments. The enforcement tools are similar to those in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The penalties are strict. For the unauthorized import or interprovincial trade of MMT the maximum penalty on summary conviction is a $300,000 fine and/or six months in jail, and on indictment the maximum fine is $1 million and/or three years in jail. For knowingly providing false or misleading information on the importation or interprovincial trade of MMT the penalties are the same but with a maximum of five years in jail instead of three on indictment.
On conviction, as in CEPA, the court can also order an additional fine equal to the monetary benefits resulting from the offence, prohibit conduct that may lead to a repeat offence and direct the offender to notify third parties about the conviction.
In summary, we have two polarized positions on this issue. On one hand, over 20 automotive manufacturers, competitors, independently came to the same conclusion that MMT is harmful to OBD systems on their cars, OBD systems that are necessary to reduce emissions. The CAA, a consumer advocate organization, supports this position. A report from the University of Waterloo supports its claims with regard to NOx emissions. It has undertaken a considerable amount of work to prepare its support of the ban. If MMT really reduced NOx in the quantities suggested by Ethyl Corporation it could reduce emissions for the automotive manufacturers for free.
On the other hand, we have an American company, the sole manufacturer of MMT, holding an opposing position. I remind the House that Ethyl Corporation fought against the reduction of lead in gasoline in 1984.
This legislation is for Canadians. It is to protect Canadians from increases in automobile prices. It is legislation to protect our environment by ensuring the effective use of new, advanced onboard diagnostic systems for cleaner exhaust emissions. It is my commitment to the people of York-Simcoe for a better community.