Government of New Brunswick

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Province of New Brunswick has a Clean Air Act that governs air quality management and encourages public involvement in achieving New Brunswick's air quality goals. The Clean Air Act is unique in Canada for its emphasis on involving the public; the Act itself evolved with the help of public input. Now we're extending that tradition. We invite you to get involved in the Class 1 Air Quality Approvals process.


What Are Air Quality Approvals?

  • Every source of emissions in the province, whether it's an individual or a company, must obtain an Air Quality Approval from the Department of Environment. The Approval can be in effect for up to five years.
  • The Approval specifies operating conditions and emission limits. It's against the law to violate the terms of an Approval.
  • Approvals are classified according to the volume of emissions released -- the lower the volume of emissions, the lower the class designation.
  • Class 1 sources release the most emissions in the province. We have about 32 Class 1 facilities in New Brunswick right now, including power plants, pulp mills, and large manufacturing plants.
  • Other sources are designated as Class 2, 3 or 4 facilities, depending on the level of their emissions.
  • Only Class 1 sources have a formal, public participation component in their approval process. However, it's important to note that the Department of Environment welcomes comments and questions about any Approval at any time.


Issuance of or Renewals of Class 1 Approvals

When an application is received for a new Class I Approval or an existing one comes up for renewal, the Clean Air Act and the accompanying Public Participation Regulation make it possible for you to have a voice in the Approval process. The following pages outline the steps you can take to get involved.

1. Watch for news about Class 1 Approvals Processes

There are two ways to learn about upcoming Class 1 Approval processes. One way is to watch your local newspaper for a Department of Environment announcement about the start of a process in your area. This notice will identify the owner of the facility, tell you where and how information can be found, provide the names of industry and Department of Environment contacts, and explain where, how, and when to provide your comments. In the case of a renewal, this announcement will appear at least 180 days (six months) before the existing Approval expires.

The second way is to check out our World Wide Web-based Public Information Access Site. It will tell you if there is a request for a new approval or when an existing Approval is coming up for renewal, and where we are in the review process. A paper copy of the information contained on the Web site can be obtained from every Department of Environment office in the province.

2. Learn about the Issues

The announcement of a Class 1 Approval issuance or renewal triggers a 120-day period for public comment. This is the time to learn more about the facility and about related issues.

Department of Environment and Facility Contacts

For every Approval process , you will have a range of people to contact for information, including a Department of Environment Project Manager assigned to the Approval, and a contact at the facility. You should contact the Project Manager when you have questions about the Approval. You should contact the facility when you want information about how the facility operates. You can also contact the Department's Public Participation Officer if you have questions about the review process itself.

Where to Find Information

Having access to relevant air quality information is crucial for you to participate in a meaningful way. One of the goals of the Clean Air Act is to encourage your participation by making it as easy as possible for you to obtain information. For this reason we provide a range of information, available through a variety of sources.

The Public Register Information page provides access to much of the required Register information and contains additional information that we think will be useful to anyone commenting on a Class 1 Approval renewal. Some of this information exists only on paper; some of it is available in a combination of paper or computer files.

The Register (required by the Act) is a collection of computerized and paper ENV files and records.

Legally Required to Provide:

  • Copies of applications for Approvals;
  • Copies of Approvals;
  • All paid administrative penalties, Orders and convictions;
  • A record of air quality Agreements made by the Minister

The Public Information Access Site (not required by the Act) is a Web site for providing access to much of the information in the register and other supporting material.

Provides enhanced information, including:

  • Access to computerized register information;
  • Descriptive summaries of the Act;
  • Profiles of Class 1 facilities currently undergoing an Approval process; 
  • The names of ENV and facility contacts for information on pending Approvals;
  • A glossary of technical words and phrases found in the Approvals or Act;
  • A bibliography of the publications referred to in each Approval;
  • A list of ENV regional offices and addresses;
  • An interactive email option;
  • Links to other online air quality resources.

Note: Some of the information is available only in the language in which it was originally prepared.

No Computer? No Problem

While we have tried to make as much information as possible readily available to computer users, we can also provide you with a printed copy of any document that is available online. Of course we can always be reached by phone, fax, mail or visit. Don't forget that all the online information can be obtained from any computer with Internet access, including home computers and computers at many public libraries.

3. Tell Us What You Think

Use the information available to you to become familiar with the issues. Don't hesitate to ask questions of either the Department of Environment or the facility if you need clarification. Then, tell us what you think.

  • We welcome comments and questions from individuals or community groups. Comments may be made anonymously, if you wish.
  • We prefer to have comments in writing, either by letter, fax or email, so that we'll have a precise record of your comments. (It's important to put a date on whatever you send us)

How to Reach Us

For Information about an Approval:

For questions about a specific Approval, contact the Department of Environment Project Manager: Tel: 506-444-4599.

For questions about the facility, speak to the contact person at that facility.

The Web site contains an interactive email option and will give you the names of the facility contact and project manager for any Air Quality Approval process, and tell you how to reach them.

For General Information:

... about the regulatory process (Air Quality Approvals), contact the Approvals Branch, New Brunswick Department of Environment: Tel 506-444-4599.

... about the public participation process for Class 1 Approval reviews, contact the Communications and Educational Services Branch, New Brunswick Department of Environment: Tel 506-453-3700.

4. We Report Back to You

We issue a draft Approval and an Interim Summary of the key issues identified by you, and responses to those issues prepared by Department of Environment staff, approximately half-way through the 120-day public comment period (with 60 days to comment remaining). The summary may also include issues identified by Department of Environment staff or others.

  • When the draft Approval and Interim Summary are available, we publish a notice in the newspaper(s) which serves the area nearest the facility. We also remind you of the final deadline for public comment on the Approval being reviewed.
  • While the Interim Summary reflects all relevant public comment received by the Department of Environment, individuals are not identified. Where appropriate, responses in the summary will refer to conditions in the draft Approval, so that you will see how the facility owner must address various concerns.
  • All summaries and draft Approvals are available from the Web site or in paper from any Department of Environment office.
  • You may continue to comment on the draft Approval and on issues raised in the interim summary for another 60 days.
  • After the conclusion of the public comment period, we issue a news release announcing the availability of our Final Summary of issues and responses, the Minister's decision, and the Intended Approval. The Minister's decision will be based upon the comments from the public and others as well as advice from appropriate Department staff. The news release, final summary and Intended Approval will be available on our Web site or from regional offices.
    - If the Minister is satisfied that all requirements have been met, the date of issuance or renewal of the Approval is announced.
    - If the Minister doesn't feel confident that relevant issues have been addressed, or that there are other significant considerations, he or she may extend the review process and the existing Approval for up to six months, until a decision can be made.

Ultimately, all decisions on Approvals are made by the Minister based on the recommendations of appropriate Department of Environment staff. However, we have a legal obligation to consult with the public on Class 1 Approvals, an obligation we take very seriously. We urge you to get involved.

For additional copies of this publication, or for general information about the public participation process, please contact your nearest regional office of the NB Department of Environment or the Communications and Educational Services Branch at (506) 453-3700. For technical information about Approvals, please contact the Department's Approvals Branch at (506) 444-4599.