Mr. Speaker, as members of the House will recall, during the June session we heard the government's reasoning behind the proposed ban on MMT. According to the hon. member for Davenport, the government is proposing Bill C-94 to ban the interprovincial trade of the fuel additive MMT in order to protect human health, protect car warranties, and to take advantage of technological change.
This may sound on the surface to be reasonable. However, a closer examination of the stated reasons is certainly merited. It is my objective today to seek clarification on the purpose of Bill C-94, a trade sanction bill introduced by the Minister of the
Environment, allegedly to protect the warranties offered customers purchasing new cars.
First, looking at the health issue, allow me to refer to the Canada health study published in late 1994. I quote: "Airborne manganese resulting from the combustion of MMT in gasoline powered vehicles is not entering the Canadian environment in quantities or under conditions that may constitute a health risk. All the analyses indicate that the combustion products of MMT in gasoline do not represent an added health risk for the Canadian population."
During our last discussions on this bill, the government produced facts from the U.S. EPA that indicated the EPA suggests tests be conducted on the potential health effects of MMT. The interesting thing is that the government appears to be predicting that the results of this testing will support its position to ban MMT, certainly a very premature action on its part. It seems ironic that the government chooses to discount scientific findings of the EPA testing programs on the impact of MMT on vehicle emission systems, the results of which clearly indicate that MMT has no adverse effect on the emission systems of cars, while speculating that the studies to be conducted on health will support its position.
One may also ask why the government wants to see EPA testing results on health impacts of MMT when its own agency, Health Canada, has clearly demonstrated that Canadians experience no adverse effects from the level of airborne manganese that results from tailpipe emissions. It appears the government is prepared to discount scientific findings in favour of speculation that the results of the EPA's proposed testing on health effects of MMT will prove to be negative.
The second reason the government offers for a ban on MMT is to protect car warranties. For those of you unfamiliar with the motivation for this legislation, let me remind you of the carmakers' claim that MMT in gasoline causes problems for onboard diagnostic systems in new model cars made in the U.S. According to the industry minister, the federal government has said it wishes to ban MMT so that "Canadian consumers will be protected by ensuring that they are afforded the same warranty coverage as automobile owners in the United States". Another reason is because the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association states that it has research that indicates MMT causes failure of onboard diagnostic systems. The MVMA has elected not to make that research public, however, after a recent review of scientific evidence collected as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluation of the auto industry's claims.
The U.S. court of appeals stated in its judgment of April 14, 1995, that MMT would not cause or contribute to the failure of any emission control system or device. According to the U.S. EPA, and I quote: "MMT does not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control system or device". The decision goes further to state: "The administrators' analysis of data submitted by Ethyl was careful and searching. The American Automobile Manufacturers Association did not come close to proving that the administration's analysis of data was arbitrary or capricious."
We should also note that automobile makers have experienced significant technical difficulties complying with the onboard diagnostic requirements in the United States as well as in Canada, despite the fact that MMT is not currently used as an octane enhancer in American gasoline. In fact, difficulties with certification of onboard diagnostic systems in the United States have prompted the U.S. EPA to state in the Federal Register that automobile manufacturers have expressed and demonstrated difficulty in complying with every aspect of onboard diagnostic requirements and difficulty appears likely to continue in the 1996 and 1997 model years.
Despite these facts, the Canadian government appears not to have noted that vehicle manufacturers have failed to achieve onboard diagnostic certification in the U.S. for most new model cars and then chooses to conclude that those same problems in Canada are somehow attributed to MMT.
The government's third reason for the proposed ban of MMT is a desire to take advantage of technological change and to enable Canadian consumers to reap the benefits offered by onboard diagnostic systems, which the hon. member for Davenport describes as contributing to pollution prevention. Unfortunately the member for Davenport does not appear to realize that onboard diagnostic systems merely notify the driver when there is a pollution emission problem. They do not control or reduce emissions. The onboard diagnostic is in fact a light on the dashboard of the car, which when illuminated suggests difficulty has been sensed.
The problem the automakers are experiencing with the onboard diagnostic system, both here and in the United States, is that the OBD has been malfunctioning and lighting up when in fact there is no emission problem. This is causing vehicle owners to take their cars in for service when none is required. Since most of these visits are covered under warranty, the result is that the automakers must pay for the service visit.
The government's confusion on the role of MMT is further exemplified by the notion that removing MMT from gasoline will contribute to pollution reduction. The member for Davenport tells us that scientists in his community have informed him that MMT in gasoline is contributing to greater pollution in the form of smog, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons. Again, the facts prove him wrong. All scientific studies on nitrous oxide reductions attributable to MMT in gasoline conclude the same thing: MMT in gasoline reduces emissions of nitrous oxide, a leading contributor to the formation of urban smog. In addition, the use of MMT in the refining process reduces emissions of carbon monoxide and of
hydrocarbons, not to mention emissions of benzene, which is a no-tolerance carcinogen.
We should also note that MMT is compatible for use with alternative fuels. In fact the use of MMT enhances emission benefits of oxygenates such as ethanol and MTBE. For example, EPA test results indicate that MMT with a 10 per cent ethanol blend lowers nitrous oxide emissions by slightly more than 30 per cent and lowers ozone potential by 29 per cent. When MMT was added to an 11 per cent MTBE blend, nitrous oxide emissions were reduced by 25 per cent and ozone potential was reduced by 18 per cent. Not only does MMT contribute significantly to lower Canadian nitrous oxide emissions, but use of MMT enhances emission benefits of oxygenates.
As part of this discussion, we must consider the fact that nitrous oxide increases resulting from the elimination of MMT from Canadian gasoline are projected to add 41,000 tonnes per year of nitrous oxide to the Canadian environment. That is a 16 per cent increase over current levels.
In conclusion, the government's rationale for this bill is inconsistent. It blatantly disagrees with scientific findings regarding MMT effects on health, vehicle pollution control equipment and the environment. It therefore seems to be in the best interests of all constituents that we move to disregard the proposed bill. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following therefor:
Bill C-94, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.