B.C. to clamp down on ag boiler emissions

British Columbia’s environment ministry has launched plans to tighten limits on emissions from wood-fired agricultural boilers, such as those used by the greenhouse industry.

While such boilers are a low-carbon form of renewable energy, “they are also a source of particulate matter,” Environment Minister Barry Penner said in a release Monday.

Pollution standards for agricultural boilers in B.C. fall under its Agriculture Waste Control Regulation. The updated standards will establish the “toughest economically viable” limits on emissions from wood-fired boilers.

The new standards are “substantially harmonized” with Metro Vancouver’s recently adopted Agricultural Boilers Emission Regulation bylaw, the province noted. But the province said its “rigorous” limits will also apply to the rest of B.C. as well and will be “fully phased in” by Sept. 1, 2010.

The new standards will require greenhouses and other agricultural boiler users to monitor and report on their emissions regularly, the province said. The ministry said it will work with industry to make sure these operators have the “necessary means” to meet the standards.

Mary-Margaret Gaye, executive director for the BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association in Surrey, said in the province’s release that the group supports the new limits, as they “will contribute to achieving the province’s clean air goals while allowing us to continue to produce food.

“Consistent regulations that are technically achievable are essential to the health of B.C.’s agricultural sector,” she said.

According to the province, B.C. has about 200 known commercial greenhouse operations, of which 171 are in the Lower Mainland, 17 on Vancouver Island and 12 in the Interior.

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