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Cablegate: Ontario Criticizes New U.S. Ozone Standards

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DE RUEHON #0072 0741744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141744Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2388
INFO RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS TORONTO 000072

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV PGOV PREL CA
SUBJECT: Ontario Criticizes New U.S. Ozone Standards

Ref: 07 Toronto 251

Sensitive But Unclassified -- Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Ontario's Ministry of the Environment today issued a press
release criticizing the new U.S. federal ozone standards of 75 parts
per billion (ppb), announced this week by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), as not being strong enough. The Ministry's
release argues that many cities located in southern Ontario will not
be able to meet the Canadian federal government's more stringent
ozone standards of 65 ppb because on hot summer days over half of
the ozone in Ontario originates in the U.S. and the U.S. standards
are too lax. In 2007 Ontario issued 13 smog advisories covering 39
days (below the 2005 record of 15 smog advisories covering 53 days).
Ontario officials will continue their efforts to improve air
quality north of the U.S. border. We expect them to continue to
closely monitor and to criticize U.S. pollution standards that lag
behind those set in Canada. It also is fair to note, however, that
Ontario's coal-fired power plants emit more pollution than most U.S.
coal-fired plants, and that a good portion of those emissions drift
across the border into the United States.

2. (U) Begin Text of Ontario Press Release.

The new air quality standards for ozone announced by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week aren't strong enough
to safeguard public health and our environment on either side of the
border.

The Ontario government is reacting to the EPA's decision to reject
the recommendation put forth by its own Clean Air Scientific
Advisory Committee to aggressively lower the ozone standards.
Although the revised ozone standards of 75 parts per billion (ppb)
are an improvement over the old U.S. standards, these new standards
are still weaker than what we have in Canada.

Ground-level ozone is one of the main ingredients in smog and is a
serious health threat, especially to children and seniors. There are
no "safe" levels of smog. Even at low levels, ground level ozone can
be harmful. Ozone can also cause damage to crops, other vegetation
and forested ecosystems.

Smog is also a problem in many Ontario cities, particularly those
near the Canada-U.S. border. On hot summer days, over half of
Ontario's ozone comes from sources in the U.S. Due to wind and
proximity, Ontario cannot sufficiently control its own ozone levels
without cooperation from the United States.

QUOTES

"There's nothing as basic as clean air - whether you live in Ontario
or Pennsylvania or New York. A more protective standard from the
U.S. EPA, closer to the one we have in Canada, would have meant
fewer smog days for people on both sides of the border," said
Environment Minister John Gerretsen.

"Ontario is taking real steps to clean the air we breathe and the
air that causes problems for our neighbours. We are phasing out
coal, building public transit and have capped smog causing emissions
from industry," Gerretsen added.

QUICK FACTS

--Ontario filed comments with the U.S. EPA on September 7, 2007 on
its proposed ozone standards. We recommended they adopt a standard
at least as stringent as the Canada-wide standard of 65 ppb. The U.S
EPA announced ozone air quality standards of 75 ppb. This is only a
slight decrease from the previous U.S. standard for ozone, which was
80 ppb.

--There are no "safe" levels of smog. It aggravates heart problems,
bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory problems and can even
reduce lung function in healthy people.

--Ontario recently strengthened the protection of local air quality
by introducing 19 new or updated air standards for 14 toxic
substances under O. Reg 419/05 Air Pollution - Local Air Quality
(http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/news/2007/083101 .php)

End Text of Press Release.

NAY

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