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The Georgia Basin – Puget Sound Airshed Characterization Report 2014

4. Air Quality and Social and Economic Trends

Jim Vanderwal, Amy Greenwood, and Narissa Chadwick (Fraser Basin Council), Roxanne Vingarzan, Rita So (Environment Canada)

Air quality is affected by various social and economic trends, including increases in population, transportation, energy consumption and international trade. This chapter looks at a range of social and economic trends and identifies some of the implications and impacts that these trends have on air quality. It also highlights actions in some areas being taken to address the impacts of the trends. Understanding the trends can help in modelling future scenarios related to air emissions and in identifying future policy directions.

4.1 Economy

Economic trends are linked to a number of factors influencing air quality, such as population growth and concentration in urban areas, transportation and energy use. Jobs tend to be concentrated in urban centres, encouraging migration from rural areas to cities.

4.1.1 Economic Shifts

The transition from goods-producing industries to a service economy is a trend that continues to be experienced in both British Columbia and Washington. In BC, four out of five workers are employed in the service industry, which contributed 77% of the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP ) in 2008. On the other hand, the goods and manufacturing industry employs 22% of the population and contributes 24% of the provincial GDP . Since 1990, the contribution of the goods and manufacturing industry to the provincial GDP had declined by 5%. Tourism, high-tech and the green-economy are becoming increasingly important to the provincial GDP and are often referred to as the “new economy” (Guide to BC Economy, 2011). Between 1988 and 2009, forestry products declined from 56% to 32% of total exports, while over the same period, the share of exports of consumer products increased from 18% to 23% (BC Stats, 2010).

The trend continues in Washington State, where employment in the service economy grew on average 0.7% per year between 2000 and 2010 and employment in the goods and manufacturing sector decreased approximately 2.5% during this same time period (note that this excludes employment data for agriculture). It is forecast that by 2030, employment in the service industry will account for 87% of non-agricultural based employment (Washington State Office of Financial Management and Employment Security Department, 2011a).

In Washington State, the highest rate of employment growth in the next 25 years is expected to occur in the retail and service industries. Growth in employment in trade and services is predicted to account for about two-thirds of the total job increase between 2000 and 2025. The share of jobs in goods-producing sectors (i.e., manufacturing, mining, and construction) is anticipated to drop from 19% in 2000 to 13% by 2025 (Washington State Office of Financial Management and Employment Security Department, 2011a).

Tourism has become a significant growth engine in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region as well as a major source of employment. In 2010, tourism accounted for approximately 4% of the provincial GDP for British Columbia (C$6.5 billion, up from C3.6 billion in 1999) and employed 6.7% of the population (127,000 people) (BC Stats, 2011a). In Washington State, tourism contributed U.S. $4.6 billion to the Gross State Product (GSP) in 2003 and accounted for 152,500 jobs (Wilkerson, 2004). Since 1991, employment in tourism has been increasing by 0.8% per year (Washington State Department of Community, 2003).

4.1.2 Distribution of Employment

Growth in employment in British Columbia and Washington State is anticipated to occur primarily in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region. Metro Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest economic areas with a labour force of 1.2 million and accounts for approximately 55% of the province’s GDP (Simon Fraser University, 2011) The Greater Vancouver area continues to be the main source of new jobs in the province with 75,835 jobs added between 2001 and 2006. This growth occurred primarily in professional, scientific and technical services, which added 14,485 new jobs (Metro Vancouver, 2006). In the ten-year period from 1996 to 2006, the number of jobs in the Metro Vancouver area increased by 18% (Statistics Canada, 2006), which is an average of 1.8% pows er year. Employment growth in the rest of the province during this time was only 0.4% per year (Finlayson, 2002).

Figure 4.1 shthat the most significant share of jobs in Metro Vancouver is in the retail trade 12% (113,620). There are significant number of jobs in hospitality (104,195) health care and social assistance (98,645), professional, scientific and technical services (95,965) and manufacturing (91,790). In Metro Vancouver, there are very few jobs in agriculture, environmental resources and utilities (2%) (Metro Vancouver, 2006).

 

Figure 4.1 Jobs by major industry classification in 2006, Metro Vancouver. (Adapted from Metro Vancouver, 2006)

Figure 4.1 Jobs by major industry classification in 2006, Metro Vancouver. (Adapted from Metro Vancouver, 2006) (See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 is a pie chart showing the percentage of jobs in Metro Vancouver in 2006 in each of fourteen major industry classifications. The breakdown is as follows. Agriculture, environmental resources, and utilities 2%; construction 3%; transportation 5%; manufacturing 9%; wholesale trade 6%; retail trade 12%; hospitality 11%; information and cultural industries 3%; professional, scientific, and tech services 10%; management and public admin 8%; finance, insurance , and real estate 8%; educational services 8%; health care and social assistance 10%; and other services 5%.

 

4.2 Population Growth and Distribution

“..the challenge in the next 10 to 30 years will be to prevent degradation of air quality in the face of rapid population growth” (South Fraser Health Region, 2001)

Population growth and distribution are linked to a number of trends influencing air quality. Trends associated with population growth that can contribute to a decline in air quality include increased urban sprawl, automobile use and energy consumption.

The Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region is expected to experience a steady increase in population over the next 20 years. In 2010, the total population of the region was approximately 7.3 million people, making it one of the largest metropolitan centres in North America. As of April 1, 2010, the population in the Puget Sound region was 3.7 million people (Puget Sound Regional Council, 2010a), while the population living within the Georgia Basin was approximately 3.6 million people (BC Stats, Population Projections, 2010).

By 2020, the population in the Georgia Basin region is forecast to exceed 4 million people and the Puget Sound region is projected to exceed 5 million people. As shown in Figure 4.2, this will bring the total population of the GB/PS airshed to approximately nine million people by 2020, which is an additional 1.7 million people.

Over half of the population of the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region resides in the areas in and around Vancouver (Metro Vancouver) and Seattle (King County). As identified in Figure 4.3, in 2010, those two major population areas held 29% and 23% of the overall airshed population, respectively. Traditional development trends directed toward accommodating population growth have tended to encourage urban sprawl, which generally leads to increased vehicle and energy use, resulting in increased emissions. More recently, agencies and organizations in Metro Vancouver have attempted to address the compounding issues associated with urban sprawl by establishing broad sustainability planning initiatives to mitigate the environmental impacts of population growth.

 

Figure 4.2 Average annual population growth rates by regional district and county, 1991-2000 (with numerical rates for 1991-2000 and 2000-2020). (Transboundary Georgia Basin – Puget Sound Environmental Indicators Working Group, 2002)

Figure 4.2 Average annual population growth rates by regional district and county, 1991-2000 (with numerical rates for 1991-2000 and 2000-2020). (Transboundary Georgia Basin – Puget Sound Environmental Indicators Working Group, 2002) (See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 is a map of the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound airshed with the Regional Districts and Counties that are contained within the airshed labelled and colored by average annual population growth rate. Two numerical values for the average annual population growth rate are also given for each Regional District or County, one for 1991-2000 and one for 2000-2020. These are as follows:

  • For the Squamish Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 5.3% and the 2000-2020 rate is 3.8%
  • For the Fraser Valley Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 3.0% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.4%
  • For the Greater Vancouver Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 2.5% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.7%
  • For the Sunshine Coast Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 2.8% and the 2000-2020 rate is 3.4%
  • For the Powell River Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 0.8% and the 2000-2020 rate is -0.3%
  • For the Capital Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 0.7% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.0%
  • For the Cowichan Valley Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 2.6% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.8%
  • For the Nanaimo Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 2.7% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.5%
  • For the Comox-Strathcona Regional District the 1991-2000 rate is 2.6% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.6%. The population calculation for the Comox-Stratcona Regional District also included the east side of Vancouver Island up to the north end of Johnstone Strait and the mainland up to Knight Inlet, which are areas outside the Georgia Basin.

In the Puget Sound airshed the average annual population growth rates by County are as follows.  It should be noted that in all cases the entire County was used for population calculations, even when some of its area does not fall within the airshed boundary.  

  • For Whatcom County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.9% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.7%
  • For Skagit County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.7% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.4%
  • For Snohomish County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.8% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.9%
  • For King County the 1991-2000 rate is 1.4% and the 2000-2020 rate is 0.8%
  • For Pierce County the 1991-2000 rate is 1.8% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.5
  • For Thurston County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.6% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.8%
  • For Mason County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.6% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.1%
  • For Jefferson County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.2% and the 2000-2020 rate is 3.6%
  • For Clallam County the 1991-2000 rate is 1.1% and the 2000-2020 rate is 1.4%
  • For Island County the 1991-2000 rate is 1.6% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.5%
  • For Kitsap County the 1991-2000 rate is 2.0% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.3%
  • For San Juan County the 1991-2000 rate is 3.5% and the 2000-2020 rate is 2.5%;

A label in the upper right corner of the figure gives the estimated total airshed population for 2020 at 9.18 million.

 

 

Figure 4.3 Percentage of Georgia Basin-Puget Sound population by regional district and county, 2010. (Transboundary Georgia Basin – Puget Sound Environmental Indicators Working Group, 2010)

Figure 4.3 Percentage of Georgia Basin-Puget Sound population by regional district and county, 2010. (Transboundary Georgia Basin – Puget Sound Environmental Indicators Working Group, 2010) (See long description below)

 

Description of Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 is a map of the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound airshed with the Regional Districts and counties labelled and coloured by the percentage of the airshed population contained within them. These percentages are as follows.  

  • Squamish-Lillooet Regional District 0.5%
  • Thompson-Nicola Regional District 1.6%; Fraser Valley Regional District 3.4%
  • Greater Vancouver Regional District 28.6%
  • Sunshine Coast Regional District 0.4%
  • Powell River Regional District 0.2%  
  • Capital Regional District 4.5%
  • Cowichan Valley Regional District 1.0%  
  • Nanaimo Regional District 1.8%
  • Alberni-Clayquot Regional District 0.4%
  • Comox-Strathcona Regional District 1.3%
  • Whatcom County 2.4%
  • Skagit County 1.4%   
  • Snohomish County 8.6%  
  • King County 23.3%  
  • Pierce County 9.6%
  • Lewis County 0.9%
  • Thurston County 3.0%
  • Mason County 0.7%  
  • Jefferson County 0.4%  
  • Clallam County 0.9%  
  • Island County 0.9%  
  • Kitsap County 3.0%  
  • San Juan County 0.2%

The total airshed population in 2010 is given as 8.29 million.  This number was arrived at using data from some areas outside of the Salish Sea area.  These areas are those parts of the following Regional Districts and counties not contained in the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound airshed: Alberni-Clayquot, Comox-Stratcona, Squamish-Lillooet, Thompson-Nicola, Lewis County, Thurston County, Mason County, Jefferson County, and Clallam County

 

4.3 Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Energy production and consumption are connected to many aspects of sustainability. The people of the Georgia Basin and Puget Sound rely on energy to power their cars, run their appliances and industrial plants, and light and heat their homes, offices and businesses. Energy is also an important component of the production of resource commodities. The generation and use of energy from fossil fuels releases air pollutants into the atmosphere, including high volumes of greenhouse gases. Between 1990 and 2011, BC’s greenhouse gas emissions grew by 20%, from 49,400 tonnes of CO2 equivalent to approximately 59,100 tonnes. The majority of GHG emissions in 2011 resulted from transportation (39%) and stationary combustion (33%) sectors (Environment Canada, 2013).

In 2008, CO2emissions from fossil fuel consumption in Washington State were approximately 79 million metric tonnes. 54% of CO2 emissions resulted from the transportation sector. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption have increased 40% between 1980 and 2008, but since its peak of 83.5 million metric tonnes in 1999, emissions have declined by 5%. In 2008, the total energy supply mix for Washington State was approximately 43% renewable and 57% fossil fuel (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2008).

The 2010 BC Clean Energy Act outlines how future energy supply will be addressed, including conservation measures, construction of new generating capacity and committing to a reduction in GHG emissions to 6% below 2007 levels by 2012, and by 2050, to 80% below 2007 levels (BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, 2010).  Washington State recently released its “Washington State Energy Strategy” (2011) with the following goals: by 2020 reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels; by 2035 reduce emissions to 25% below 1990 levels; by 2050 reduce emissions to 50% below 1990 levels (Washington State Department of Commerce 2010).

4.3.1 Rates of Energy Consumption

Both Washington and British Columbia have experienced increases in energy consumption since the 1970s, although recent year have seen demand levelling off or in some cases declining.

End-use energy consumption in Washington grew at a rate of about 1.8% per year between 1970 and 1999, primarily in the transportation sector (Washington State Department of Commerce, 2010). After 1999, energy consumption declined overall by an average of 0.3% per year between 2000 and 2008 (with a slight peak in 2007, prior to energy prices and recession leading the reduction in 2008). This reduction was due to a significant drop in industrial use and little growth in the areas of residential, commercial and transportation energy use. Figure 4.4 illustrates the changes in energy consumption by sector in Washington State between 1970 and 2008.

In British Columbia, between 1990 and 2010, total energy consumed rose 15% to 1,070 petajoules. Sectors that showed relatively significant increases over this period included: residential (13%), transportation (43%), and agriculture (78%). The significant relative increase for the agriculture sector was due to a greater use of natural gas; however, it should be noted that the agriculture sector accounted for a relatively small fraction of total energy consumed at 2% in 2010. Although the industrial sector energy consumption in 2010 was similar to those in 1999, it accounted for 40% of total energy consumed in BC (Nyboer and Kniewasser, 2012).

 

Figure 4.4 Washington State end-use energy consumption by sector, 1970 – 2008 (Washington State Department of Commerce 2010).

Figure 4.4 Washington State end-use energy consumption by sector, 1970 – 2008 (Washington State Department of Commerce 2010). (See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 is a line plot showing the changes in end-use energy consumption in Washington State for four sectors over the years from 1970 to 2008.

Transportation sector consumption rose steadily from approximately 300 trillion Btu in 1970 to approximately 400 trillion Btu in 1979.  There was a slight decline 1979 to 1984 from approximately 400 trillion Btu to approximately 350 trillion Btu.  There was then a steady increase to approximately 500 trillion Btu in 1995 followed by a plateau lasting through 2008.

Residential sector consumption rose steadily from approximately 400 trillion Btu in 1970 to approximately 600 trillion Btu in 1979.  There was a slight decline 1979 to 1984 from approximately 600 trillion Btu to approximately 500 trillion Btu.  There was then a steady increase to approximately 700 trillion Btu in 1998 followed by a plateau lasting through 2008.

Industrial sector consumption rose from just below 800 trillion Btu in 1970 to approximately 900 trillion Btu in 1982.  From 1982 to 1983 there was as decline that brought consumption back down the approximately 800 trillion Btu. From 1983 to 1999 there was an increase to approximately 1200 trillion Btu followed by a decline until 2002 which brought consumption down to just over 1000 trillion Btu.  Consumption then increased to approximately 1100 trillion Btu in 2007 with a slight decline in 2008.

Commercial sector consumption rose from just over 800 trillion Btu in 1970 to just over 1000 trillion Btu in 1982.  From 1982 to 1983 there was as decline that brought consumption back down the approximately 900 trillion Btu.

From 1983 to 1999 there was an increase to approximately 1400 trillion Btu followed by a decline until 2002 which brought consumption down to just over 1200 trillion Btu.  Consumption then increased to approximately 1300 trillion Btu in 2007 with a slight decline in 2008.

4.3.2 Increasing Household Demand for Energy

Total household energy consumption is increasing as a result of population growth. In 2008, residential energy consumption in Washington State was 534.3 petajoules, an increase of 15% since 1980. In 2008, household consumption accounted for 25% of total energy consumption in Washington State (U.S. Energy Information Administration, SEDS Database for Washington State, 2011).

The Portland-based Northwest Power Planning Council, representing the citizens of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, predicts that future demand for energy in the Northwest will grow from 20,422 average megawatts in 2000 to 28,464 average megawatts by 2025 (Ernst, 2002). The Council also predicts that residential electricity consumption will increase by 1.1% per year through 2025 (this is slightly lower than the 1.6% growth rate recorded between 1990 and 2000).

In 2010, household consumption amounted to approximately 13% of the total energy consumed in British Columbia (Nyboer and Kniewasser, 2012). BC Hydro (2012) predicts that overall residential electricity consumption in BC will grow by 45% between 2012 and 2033, an increase of about 1.8% per year. The 2009 BC Energy Plan notes that current provincial electricity supply resources are 90% clean and new electricity generation plants will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions (Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, 2009).

4.3.3 Increased Energy Efficiency in Economy

The economies of Washington and British Columbia are more energy efficient than they were two decades ago. Since the mid-1980s, Washington has continued to produce more goods and services per unit of energy consumed (Washington State Community, Trade and Economic Development, 1999). While Washington’s total energy consumption increased between 1980 and 1999, energy consumption per dollar of Gross State Product (GSP) declined by 39%. This is due to a number of factors, including the shift in the state’s economy from its resource and manufacturing base to software, biotechnology and other less energy-intensive industries as well as to gains in energy efficiency. In BC between 1990 and 2010, rates of energy consumption per person and per unit of real GDP decreased by 16% and 37% respectively (Nyboer and Kniewasser, 2012).

4.3.4 Electric Power Generation

Depending on the technology used, electrical power generation can be a significant source of air pollution. Both Washington and British Columbia are fortunate in that much of their electrical energy is supplied by hydroelectricity, a much cleaner energy source than other forms used.

In British Columbia, approximately 90% of BC Hydro's electrical generation is hydroelectric (BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, 2009), and most of it is generated outside of the Georgia Basin area. The major fossil fuel-based electrical generation is at Burrard Thermal, a 950 megawatt station in Port Moody in the Greater Vancouver area, with a capacity of 7,050 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year. Burrard Thermal is a conventional thermal plant fuelled by natural gas. Over the past five years (2005-2010), BC Hydro has acquired 4,699 GWh through Energy Purchase Agreements with independent power projects in BC. Of that total, 1,538 GWh was for projects located in the Georgia Basin area – and all of these projects were either small hydro or biogas based production (BC Hydro, 2011).

BC Hydro has forecast that the province’s electricity needs will grow by 20 to 40% over the next 20 years, as the population increases by more than one million residents. The 2010 Clean Energy Act outlines how this increase will be met, including conservation measures, construction of new generating capacity and committing to a reduction in GHG emissions to 6% below 2007 levels by 2012, and by 2050, to 80% below 2007 levels (BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, 2010). In addition, BC Hydro is presently developing an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which will focus on conserving and investing in clean or renewable energy to meet future growth in demand for electricity. The proposed investments include a combination of implementing efficiency gains at the existing generation facilities, assessing generation resources in the province, and building a proposed third dam and hydroelectric generation station (Site C) on the Peace River in northeast BC. An area to watch in terms of potential future air quality impacts is bioenergy production, which will continue to grow in importance. However, most new projects tend to be located outside of the Georgia Basin region.

In Washington, electrical power is provided by several utilities, including Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light. Washington State’s electrical supply mix in 2008 was approximately 73% hydro, 9% coal, 7% natural gas, 9% nuclear, and <1% petroleum. The portion of electricity from non-hydroelectric renewable generation sources, such as biomass, wind and solar energy, consumed in Washington in 2008 was 4.2%, which is a significant increase from 2000 when non-hydro renewable generation sources accounted for less than 1.5% of total consumption.

4.4 Transportation

Most people in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region depend on the automobile for transportation. As well, given the important role Port Metro Vancouver and Port of Seattle play as gateways for international trade and tourism, transportation is a major driver of the economy (Port Metro Vancouver, 2011; Port of Seattle, 2011a). As a result, energy consumption in the transportation sector is a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions within the region. In the Puget Sound, the percentage contribution to air pollution from light duty vehicles in 2005 was: 16% of NH3 emissions; 27% of NOx emissions; and 17% volatile organic compounds (WA DOE, 2008). Similarity, the Metro Vancouver 2005 emission inventory indicates that the percentage contribution to air pollution from light duty vehicles in the Canadian Lower Fraser Valley (CLFV) airshed was: 53% of carbon monoxide emissions; 29% of greenhouse gases emissions (in CO2 equivalents); 26% nitrogen oxide emissions; and 21% volatile organic compounds.  Between 1990 and 2005, sulphur dioxide emissions from vehicles declined significantly due to reduced sulphur content in on-road fuels.

As shown by Figure 4.5, in 2006, emissions from on-road vehicles - cars, trucks and buses - accounted for 68% of the air pollution in the Puget Sound area (Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, 2011). 

 

Figure 4.5 Anthropogenic Sources of Air Pollution in Puget Sound area (2006). (Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, 2011)

Figure 4.5 Anthropogenic Sources of Air Pollution in Puget Sound area (2006). (Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, 2011) (See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 is a pie chart showing the sources of air pollution in the Puget Sound area by percentage in 2006.  Non-road mobile sources (ships, trains, planes, etc) were responsible for 21% of air pollution, point sources (business and industry) were responsible for 1%, area sources (wood stoves, fireplaces, gas stations, spray painting, etc) were responsible for 10%, and on-road mobile sources (cars, trucks, and buses) were responsible for 68%.

4.4.1 Small Vehicle Emissions

Small vehicle emissions include those primarily from cars and light trucks. Levels of car ownership, increases in distances traveled, and commuting times, all serve as indicators of the increasing contribution that small vehicles are making to pollution, particularly in the larger cities and surrounding suburban neighbourhoods in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region. The types of vehicles on the road also influence air quality.

Car ownership, commuting times and distances traveled are increasing on both sides of the border. In 2009, there were about 1.44 million vehicles registered in the Metro Vancouver region (Metro Vancouver, 2009). It is estimated that by 2030 (compared to 1.3 million in 2005) there will be 0.9 to 1.0 million more vehicles on the roads in the Metro Vancouver (Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, 2007). Commuting distance decreased by 0.3 km in Metro Vancouver between 1996 and 2006, by 1.5 km in Chilliwack and by 0.4 km in Abbotsford from 2001 to 2006 (Fraser Basin Council, 2010). In 2005, vehicles in the Metro Vancouver regional district were driven about 18.9 billion kilometres, an increase of more than 2 billion kilometers since 1998. In 2008 about 74% of the trips in Metro Vancouver were made as either the driver or passenger in a vehicle, while 26% of trips were made by either, transit, walking or cycling (Translink, 2010). Transit, walking or cycling in the Fraser Valley region has decreased since 1996 from 7.6% to 6.4% (Fraser Basin Council, 2010).

In 2009, the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the central Puget Sound region was approximately 80.8 million miles per day. While total vehicle miles traveled have mostly increased over time, VMT per person has been decreasing over the last decade. This may be partially attributable to increased public transit usage (25.3% increase from 1999 to 2009) and rising fuel prices (70% increase -- adjusted for inflation - from 1998 to 2009). Daily VMT per person has been declining since 1999 when it peaked at 24.2 VMT per person (Puget Sound Regional Council, 2010b). In Puget Sound, between 1999 and 2006, the average commute for the region’s residents increased by 5%, from 12.2 to 12.8 miles.  Single-occupant vehicles (SOV) remained the dominant mode of region-wide transportation from 1999 to 2006, accounting for 48% and 44% of trips made in 1999 and 2006, respectively. This represents a 2% reduction in SOV trips (5.3 million to 5.2 million) from 1999 to 2006. A significant number of trips also occurred in vehicles with one or more passengers. Together, SOV and HOV travel accounted for 84% of the trips made in 2006. Overall, the region has experienced an increase in walk and public transit trips, and a corresponding decrease in car travel. There are several reasons for these observed trends. Transit service in the region has increased significantly from 1999 to 2006, including the beginning of Sound Transit bus service in 1999 (Puget Sound Regional Council, 2010b).

4.4.2 Commercial Transportation

Increasing domestic and international trade and travel, increasing participation in global markets, and a focus on greater efficiency in the movement of goods and people have increased the demand for transportation services in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region. These services include the use of trucking, rail, air and sea. The Port of Vancouver is processing a continually growing level of international trade in the region. In 2007, it handled over 80 million tonnes of cargo, a 32% increase from 2002. The Port of Vancouver continues to be the largest container port in Canada. Along with Fraser and North Fraser, the Gateway handled 54% of all containers in Canada - nearly 2.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). This represents an increase of 60% from 2002 to 2007. Vancouver International Airport is the second largest airport in Canada in terms of both cargo and passengers. The size of operations and geographic location make the airport a critical link for trade abroad and also within North America. In 2007, the airport handled over 225,000 tonnes of cargo, a slight decrease from 235,000 tonnes in 2002. In terms of value, however, international trade by air has increased by 25% (adjusted for inflation) to over $5 billion in 2007. The increase in activity at the ports has resulted in more rail and truck movement throughout the region (Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, 2008).

Between 2003 and 2007, passenger activity at Washington State’s Sea-Tac Airport increased 17% from 26.8 million to 31.3 million. Passengers on international flights remained at 2.2 million. Total air cargo decreased from 351,418 metric tons to about 319,013 metric tons in 2007 (Port of Seattle, 2009). Marine cargo volumes handled at the Port of Seattle increased by 63% between 2001 and 2010 from, 1,315,109 TEUs to 2,139,577 TEUs (Port of Seattle, 2009). In 2010, 223 cruise ships docked at the port, which included 931,698 passengers.

4.4.3 Trucking and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

One of the key issues associated with heavy trucks and air pollution is the use of diesel fuel and the resulting particulate matter. Current health research suggests that diesel particulate matter poses a significant risk, particularly to people who live and work near busy truck routes. NOx emissions from heavy trucks are also significant, and this is a concern because of the health effects of NOx and its role in ozone and PMformation.

In the Puget Sound, trucks and buses annually contribute the following (Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, 2008):

Metric Tonnes, 2005
CO
NH3
NOx
PM10
PM2.5
SOx
VOC
Gasoline trucks and buses
652,840
38
46,545
113
462
773
51,874
Diesel trucks and buses
9,177
35
34,961
1,219
971
873
1,691

In the Canadian Lower Fraser Valley (GVRD + FVRD), the annual contribution of emissions from trucks and buses is as follows (Metro Vancouver, 2010):

Metric Tonnes, 2005
CO
NH3
NOx
PM10
PM2.5
SOx
VOC
Gasoline trucks and buses
199,747
1,094
13,466
302
143
78
15,934
Diesel trucks and buses
1,127
10
4,331
133
112
74
229

Most of the goods moving back and forth across the BC-Washington State border travel through the Pacific Highway, Aldergrove and Huntingdon commercial land ports. The Pacific Highway crossing in Surrey is the busiest in BC. It was also the 6th busiest in Canada in 2009 in terms of the value of goods moved ($11,836 million in 2009) and the 5th busiest in terms of truck volume (629,382 crossings in 2009). Between 2000 and 2009, the combined volume of trucks crossing the border at all three ports decreased by just over 27%.

Table 4.1 and Figure 4.6 below illustrate the declining truck volume since 2005 and 2000, respectively (BC Trucking Association, 2010).

Table 4.1 Truck crossing volumes at US-Canada border, 2005 - 2009. (BC Trucking Association, 2010)

Cross-Border Truck Volumes, 2005-2009
The Cascade Gateway
LOCATION
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
Pacific Highway
718,589
719,485
715,640
687,575
629,782
Lynden/ Aldergrove
154,672
167,905
155,412
131,195
112,602
Sumas/ Huntingdon
213,640
207,342
182,364
175,184
175,840

 

Description of Table 4.1

Table 4.1 presents the number of truck crossings at three US-Canada border crossings in the Cascade gateway for 2005-2009.

The first row of the table contains the title “CROSS-BORDER TRUCK VOLUMES, 2005-2009, THE CASCADE GATEWAY”

The second row of the table contains the headers “Location”, “2005”, “2006”, “2007”, 2008” and “2009”. The first column shows the border crossing locations. These are Pacific Highway, Lynden/ Aldergrove, and Sumas/ Huntingdon. The remaining columns show number of truck crossings for the indicated year.

 

Figure 4.6 Total Truck Volume, Northbound and Southbound at US-Canada border crossings in the Lower Mainland (2000 to 2009). (BC Trucking Association, 2010)

Figure 4.6 Total Truck Volume, Northbound and Southbound at US-Canada border crossings in the Lower Mainland (2000 to 2009). (BC Trucking Association, 2010)(See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 is a bar chart showing total truck volume at US-Canada border crossings with two lines superimposed on it that independently show northbound and southbound volume.  Also given are the numerical values for each year and these are as follows.  

  • 2000 total: 1259150 southbound: 691579 northbound: 567575.  
  • 2001 total: 1189150 southbound: 647898 northbound: 541253.
  • 2002 total: 1173650 southbound: 614404 northbound: 559250.
  • 2003 total: 1098470 southbound: 556616 northbound: 541856.
  • 2004 total: 1123090 southbound: 568143 northbound: 554954.
  • 2005 total: 1086900 southbound:  568169 northbound: 518732.
  • 2006 total: 1094730 southbound: 576967 northbound: 517765.
  • 2007 total: 1056620 southbound: 546377 northbound: 510252.  
  • 2008 total: 993954 southbound: 520248 northbound: 473706.  
  • 2009 total: 918224 southbound: 485441 northbound: 432783.

 

4.4.4 Non-road Engines and Equipment

Non-road mobile sources include a wide range of vehicles and machines such as aircraft, rail, marine vessels and recreational, farm, construction, and lawn and garden equipment. Together, these sources contributed 12% of PM2.5 emissions, 14% of smog-forming pollutants and 5% of greenhouse gases emitted into the Lower Fraser Valley airshed in 2005 (Metro Vancouver, 2007). Metro Vancouver has recently developed a regulation to reduce emissions from this sector, which requires that all Tier 0 and Tier 1 non-road diesel engines of greater than 25 hp to be registered. These machines must also be labelled and their owners must pay fees to operate their machines in Metro Vancouver. Fee reductions or refunds are available when engines are upgraded using EPA or CARB certified technologies.

4.4.5 Marine

It has recently been recognized that emissions from marine vessels are a significant contributor to smog-forming pollutants in the airshed. Ocean-going vessels emit tonnes of smog-producing chemicals and other air pollutants each year. Because of the rapid increase in global trade and associated  increase in ship traffic, and because many land-based pollution sources are being regulated while marine sources have not been, the rate of increase in air pollution from ships exceeds that from other sources. Ocean-going vessels are a significant contributor of emissions of NOx, SOx and PM in both BC and Washington. Other sources of air emissions from marine vessels include harbour vessels, ferries, fishing vessels and recreational vessels.

Commercial Vessels

Both Vancouver and Seattle are significant international gateways for trade, business and tourism in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region and for their respective countries. Through Port Metro Vancouver, the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma, a total of 156 million tonnes of goods were handled in 2010, a 21% increase since 2000. Rapid growth occurred in the period leading up to 2007, with a decline due to the economic recession beginning in 2008 (Figure 4.7). Recent activity has resulted in an upswing of activity, although not quite to the same levels seen in 2007.

 

Figure 4.7 Total volume (tonnes) of cargo handled at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma 2000 – 2010. (Port Metro Vancouver, 2011; Port of Seattle, 2011b; Port of Tacoma, 2011)

Figure 4.7 Total volume (tonnes) of cargo handled at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma 2000 – 2010. (Port Metro Vancouver, 2011; Port of Seattle, 2011b; Port of Tacoma, 2011)(See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 is a stacked bar chart giving tonnes of cargo handled at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma for 2000 and 2007 through 2010.  There were peaks in 2007 and 2010 with lower volumes in 2000, 2008, and 2009.  The numerical values are as follows.  

  • In 2000 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 100,000,000 tonnes, Port of Seattle handled approximately 115,000,000 tonnes, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 130,000,000 tonnes.
  • In 2007 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 125,000,000 tonnes, Port of Seattle handled approximately 150,000,000 tonnes, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 165,000,000 tonnes.
  • In 2008 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 115,000,000 tonnes, Port of Seattle handled approximately 135,000,000 tonnes, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 150,000,000 tonnes.
  • In 2009 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 100,000,000 tonnes, Port of Seattle handled approximately 120,000,000 tonnes, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 135,000,000 tonnes.  
  • In 2010 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 120,000,000 tonnes, Port of Seattle handled approximately 140,000,000 tonnes, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 155,000,000 tonnes.

 

The three major ports have also seen major growth in the volume of containerized goods, which grew by 52% since 2000, as seen in Figure 4.8. Again, the recession had an impact in 2008. In addition, expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert in 2007 provided a shorter route for goods being transported to and from Asia, which picked up some of the traffic originally destined for the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound.

 

Figure 4.8 Container volumes, Ports of Metro Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma (Port Metro Vancouver, 2011; Port of Seattle, 2011b; Port of Tacoma, 2011).

Figure 4.8 Container volumes, Ports of Metro Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma (Port Metro Vancouver, 2011; Port of Seattle, 2011b; Port of Tacoma, 2011).(See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 is a stacked bar chart showing container volumes in twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and projected for 2020.  There was a steady increase from 2000 to 2007, a decline through 2009, and slight increase in 2010.  The numerical values are as follows.

  • In 2000 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 1,000,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled approximately 2,500,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 4,000,000 TEUs.
  • In 2001 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 1,000,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled approximately 2,500,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled just below 4,000,000 TEUs.
  • In 2002 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 1,500,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled approximately 3,000,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled just over 4,000,000 TEUs.
  • In 2005 Port Metro Vancouver handled just below 2,000,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled just below 4,000,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled just below 6,000,000 TEUs.  
  • In 2007 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 2,500,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled approximately 4,500,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 6,500,000 TEUs.
  • In 2008 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 2,500,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled just over 4,000,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 6,000,000 TEUs.  
  • In 2009 Port Metro Vancouver handled just over 2,000,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled just below 4,000,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 5,500,000 TEUs.  
  • In 2010 Port Metro Vancouver handled approximately 2,500,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle handled approximately 4,500,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma handled approximately 6,000,000 TEUs.

The projections for 2020 are that Port Metro Vancouver will handle approximately 4,000,000 TEUs, Port of Seattle will handle approximately 7,000,000 TEUs, and Port of Tacoma will handle approximately 10,500,000 TEUs.

 

Cruise-Ship Vessels

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of cruise-ship vessels entering the Port of Seattle increased by 520% from 36 in 2000, to 223 vessels in 2010 (Port of Seattle , 2011c). In 2010, there were over 1.9 million passengers moving through the Port of Victoria, Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Seattle, a 51% increase since 2000 (Figure 4.9). The recession in 2008 also resulted in a reduction in volumes for Port Metro Vancouver, since the peak of 2007. The number of passengers in Seattle and Victoria has continued to steadily grow, while Metro Vancouver’s volumes dropped in 2010.

Ferries

Given that many communities in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region are separated by water, ferries are an essential mode of travel in the region. In 2001, the 40 vessels operated by BC Ferries traveled on 25 routes, visited 46 ports of call, and carried 21.3 million passengers and 8.1 million vehicles (BC Chamber of Commerce, 2002). These numbers remained approximately steady at 21.0 million passengers and 8.3 million vehicles in 2009/10 (BC Ferries, 2010). Ferry ridership in Washington has increased by 57 % since 1980. Washington has 29 vessels and 20 ports of call, and in 2001, state ferries carried 26.6 million passengers and 11.5 million vehicles (Washington State Department of Transportation, 2002). This volume dropped to 22.4 million passengers and 9.9 million vehicles in 2009 (Bennion, 2010).

 

Figure 4.9 Cruise ship passenger volumes at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Victoria and Port of Seattle (Port Metro Vancouver Website, 2011; Port of Seattle Website, 2011c; Port of Tacoma Website, 2011).

Figure 4.9 Cruise ship passenger volumes at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Victoria and Port of Seattle (Port Metro Vancouver Website, 2011; Port of Seattle Website, 2011c; Port of Tacoma Website, 2011).(See long description below)

Description of Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 is a stacked bar chart showing cruise ship passenger numbers at Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Victoria and Port of Seattle for 2000 and 2007 through 2010.  There was an increase from 2000 to 2009 and a slight downturn in 2010.  The numerical values are as follows.  

  • In 2000 Port of Victoria saw approximately 100,000 passengers, Port Metro Vancouver saw approximately 1,200,000 passengers, and Port of Seattle saw approximately 1,300,000 passengers.  
  • In 2007 Port of Victoria saw approximately 300,000 passengers, Port Metro Vancouver saw approximately 1,300,000 passengers, and Port of Seattle saw approximately 2,100,000 passengers.  
  • In 2008 Port of Victoria saw approximately 400,000 passengers, Port Metro Vancouver saw approximately 1,300,000 passengers, and Port of Seattle saw approximately 2,150,000 passengers.
  • In 2009 Port of Victoria saw approximately 450,000 passengers, Port Metro Vancouver saw approximately 1,300,000 passengers, and Port of Seattle saw approximately 2,200,000 passengers.
  • In 2010 Port of Victoria saw approximately 400,000 passengers, Port Metro Vancouver saw approximately 1,000,000 passengers, and Port of Seattle saw approximately 1,900,000 passengers.

 

Specific actions underway targeting marine and port emissions include:

  • Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy: A partnership between Port Metro Vancouver, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma to address maritime and port- related emissions that affect air quality and climate change in the Pacific Northwest. The Strategy targets emission sources from the following six sectors: ocean going vessels, cargo-handling equipment, trucks, rail, harbor craft and port administration. Progress has been made towards achieving the 2010 performance measures; however, not all performance measures have been met. A summary of the status and implementation efforts in 2011 for each of the sectors are illustrated in Table 4.2.
  • BC Marine Vessel Air Quality Work Group: A collaboration that includes Environment Canada, Transport Canada, BC Ministry of Environment, BC Ministry of Transportation, Port Metro Vancouver, Chamber of Shipping of BC, BC Ferries, Metro Vancouver and others, whose aim is to review and implement emission reduction actions.
  • Clean truck programs: Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Seattle have implemented regulatory programs to prevent older drayage trucks with higher emissions engines from being able to access these ports, in an effort to reduce particulate emission from diesel fuel engines. The Port of Tacoma uses a market-based approach to encourage the retirement of older trucks. The Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy has set a goal for all trucks to meet the 2007 engine emissions standards by 2017.
  • Ocean-Going Vessels: The Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy has primarily focused on reducing emissions from frequent-calling vessels during hotelling and transiting. The Strategy has set a goal for all ships to use fuels with sulfur content less than 0.5% in auxiliary engines while at berth. In 2010, the Port of Seattle had excellent uptake of the strategy with 72% of all frequent ocean-going vessel calls that met or exceeded the 2010 performance measure (Port of Seattle, 2012). Port Metro Vancouver and Port of Tacoma have been making steady progress to increase uptake by ocean-going vessels. Efforts are currently underway to reduce emissions from all vessel calls for the 2012 Strategy update.
  • Shore Power for Cruise Ships: Both the Port of Seattle and Port Metro Vancouver have begun to provide electrical connections for cruise ships, allowing the ships to shut off their diesel engines while in port. The Port of Tacoma installed the first electrical shore power connection for a cargo ship in North America in 2009. During the 2011 cruise season, the shore power operation at Port Metro Vancouver generated a fuel savings of 424 tonnes, leading to a reduction of 1,318 tonnes of GHG emissions and significant amount of CACs resulting from ship idling (Port Metro Vancouver, 2012). The benefits are expected to grow over time, as more ships are equipped with shore power infrastructure.
Table 4.2 Summary of status and implementation efforts of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in 2011
(Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, 2012).
SectorImplementation Efforts in 20112010 Performance Measure Status
Ocean-Going Vessels
  • Incentives for using cleaner fuels at berth
  • Providing shore power connections
  • Award programs
44% met or surpassed
Cargo-Handling Equipment
  • Use of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and/or biofuel
  • Exhaust retrofit or equipment replacement
60% met or surpassed
Trucks
  • Scrappage and replacement programs
  • Limit access to container terminals through truck registries
100% met or surpassed
Rail
  • Support EPA SmartWay commitments
  • Pursue grant opportunities
  • Install idle reduction devices
  • Replace old engines
  • Collaborative supply-chain agreement to improve operational efficiency
Harbor Craft
  • Engine replacement or installation of upgrade kits
  • Use of ULSD, low-sulfur, and/or biodiesel fuels
  • Participation in the Green Marine program
  • Investigation of alternative fuels
Port Administration
  • Corporate emission inventory & reporting
  • Energy audits
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Vehicle fleet fuel efficiency upgrades, scrappage, and/or replacement
  • Energy and/or carbon offsets purchased
  • Reduced commutes and promote sustainable transportation
  • Collaborate with Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition
  • Composting and/or recycling
  • Energy conservation measures

Note: A “√” indicates efforts have been made towards reducing emissions in sectors that do not have specific performance measures

 

Description of Table 4.2

Table 4.2 presents a sector-by-sector summary of the status of implementation efforts in the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in 2011.
The first row of the table contains the headers “Sector”, “Implementation Efforts in 2011”, and “2010 Performance Measure Status”. The first column shows the different sectors that are involved in the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in 2011.  The sectors include:

  • Ocean-Going Vessels
  • Cargo-Handling Equipment
  • Trucks
  • Rail
  • Harbor Craft
  • Port Administration

The second column details the various implementation efforts in 2011. The third column shows the 2010 Performance Measure Status. For Ocean-Going Vessels this is 44% met or surpassed, for Cargo-Handling Equipment this is 60% met or surpassed, and for trucks this is 100% met or surpassed.  For the other sectors efforts have been made towards reducing emissions but these sectors that do not have specific performance measures

4.4.6 Rail

Rail tonnage originating or destined for BC increased by 23% from 2001 to 2006. The value of international trade on rail in 2007 was over $7.5 billion; this represented a 6% decrease from 2002 to 2007 (adjusting for inflation) (Greater Vancouver Gateway Council, 2008).

In Washington in 2007, the state rail system carried 116 million tons of freight, compared with 64 million tons in 1991, for an annual growth rate of 3.8%. Rail freight transportation has significant economic impacts and at the national level, freight demand is projected to almost double in the next 35 years. Freight mobility is critical to the state’s economy. In 2007, the state’s freight systems supported over one million jobs in state freight-dependent industry sectors, which produced $434 billion in Gross Business Income, representing 71% of Washington State’s Total Gross Business Income of $627 billion (Washington State Department of Transportation, 2009).

The state of Washington currently owns eight daily runs of Amtrack’s Cascade passenger rail system. Ridership has more than doubled every five years since 1993. These runs diverted an estimated 143,000 vehicle trips from the I-5 freeway corridor in 2000. Ridership between Vancouver and Portland, Oregon, was estimated to be 1,094,000 in 2002 and could increase to 1,920,000 in 2018 (ibid.).

Rail exports and imports have fluctuated over the past decade in British Columbia, as a result change in economic activity. Between 2001 and 2006, rail exports from British Columbia increased from approximately 6,800 to 12,700 thousand tonnes, but have since decreased to approximately 7,100 thousand tonnes in 2010. During this time, rail imports fluctuated between 1,300 and 1,800 thousand tonnes from 2001 to 2010 (Transport Canada, 2010).

Despite its contributions to air pollution, the efficiency of rail makes it a lower-emission alternative to trucking. In addition, the use of rail to transport people and goods can reduce highway maintenance costs and transport-related accident costs. Studies show that rail transportation is three times more fuel-efficient than truck transportation for hauling freight (Washington State Department of Transportation, 2003). Air quality benefits can be derived from reducing motor vehicle trips through rail travel, which moves larger passenger volumes and produces fewer emissions per person. Without rail service, more freight would have to be moved by truck, raising congestion levels on highways, increasing emissions and increasing highway maintenance costs. The abandonment of approximately 40% of Washington’s active rail lines since 1970 has increased traffic on state and local roads, resulting in higher maintenance and repair costs. The Washington State Department of Transportation estimates that, without rail service, transport-related accident costs would increase by $67 million per year (Washington State Department of Transportation, 2003).

Currently, Transport Canada works with its partners and stakeholders, including other government departments and the rail industry, to reduce greenhouse gas and air contaminants emissions from rail transportation sources through a number of programs and initiatives, The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) Awareness Actions detail best operating practices aimed at reducing emissions associated with railway activities. These actions include improving diesel engine technology, introduction of a variety of new rolling stock equipment designs, train handling improvements, and infrastructure improvements that increase operational fluidity, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and emissions (RAC, 2009). In March 2008, The U.S. EPA finalized a three part program aimed at dramatically reducing emissions from non-road diesel locomotives of all types, including line-haul, switch and passenger rail. This rule will cut PM emissions from these engines by as much as 90% and NOx emission by as much as 80%, when fully implemented (U.S. EPA, 2012). The standards are based on the application of high-efficiency catalytic after treatment technology for freshly manufactured engines built in 2015 and later.

4.5 Agriculture

The agricultural industry is both impacted by air pollution (as discussed previously) and is a significant contributor of emissions, including CO and CO2, NH3, N2O and CH4. There are two main categories of emissions from agricultural practices: 1) general farming practices, such as livestock husbandry, the cultivation of agricultural lands, the use of pesticides and fertilizers and farm machinery; and 2) agricultural burning.

4.5.1 Agricultural Practices

Air emissions related to agricultural practices come from a number of sources. In Canada, about two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions from farms are in the form of nitrous oxide (N2O) and one-third are in the form of methane (CH4). Livestock and manure account for about 58% of these emissions and cropping practices account for 37% (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2011). Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimate that the release of these gases is usually a result of the inefficient use of nitrogen in fertilizers, crop residues or manures. As well, most cropping systems depend on external energy sources, largely fossil fuels.

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is a significant contributor to overall agricultural production in British Columbia. In 2005, the FVRD accounted for almost 35% of BC’s total gross farm receipts - the largest of any of the province’s 27 regional districts. In 2006, 56,603 hectares of land in the Fraser Valley was used for agricultural purposes. Dairy, poultry, greenhouses and a limited number of field crops account for the majority of agricultural production. Between 1996 and 2006, chicken production increased by 55% from 7.3 million to 11.4 million livestock units, while the number of cows increased by 6% to 44,300 livestock units.  The area occupied by mushroom farms has more than doubled from 59,000 m2 in 1996 to over 120,000 m2 in 2006. In addition, the area occupied by greenhouses tripled from 315,000 m2 in 1996 to 1.2 million m2 in 2006. During this time period, the area of field crops remained relatively stable (Levelton Engineering Ltd., 2004).

Based on the Metro Vancouver’s 2005 Lower Fraser Valley Air Emissions Inventory, agricultural area sources in the WISE emitted 1.1 million metric tonnes of CO2equivalents. Quantities of other key air emissions from agricultural area sources in the WISE in 2005 include: VOCs at 7,091 tonnes, ammonia (NH3) at 14,179 tonnes, and smog forming pollutants at 21,542 tonnes (Metro Vancouver, 2007).

In 2006, the Metro Vancouver region, including the LFV, produced 27% of B.C.’s total gross farm receipts on only 1.5% of the province’s land base. The main crops grown in the region are field vegetables, berries, ornamental plants and greenhouse vegetables and flowers.  There is also a wide variety of animals produced in the region including dairy and beef cattle, poultry and other livestock such as pigs, horses, sheep and goats. Overall the numbers of animals are decreasing except for poultry and bee colonies (Metro Vancouver, 2013).

Dairy production is one of the major agricultural activities in Washington State. With more than 100,000 milk cows in the Puget-sound area, the livestock industry in the Puget Sound emits about 27,000 tons of methane each year. Also significant is the intensive dairy industry of Whatcom County. In 2008, state wide exports of fruit and fruit products totalled more than $1 billion.

4.5.2 Best Management Practices

There are a number of Best Management Practices being piloted in the Canadian Lower Fraser Valley to help reduce agricultural emissions (BCMAL, 2010, Levelton Engineering Ltd., 2004). These pilots include:

  • Collection and recycling of agricultural plastics in order to reduce burning of these wastes.
  • Reduction of particulate emissions from poultry barns through incentives provided through the Environmental Farm Planning.
  • Changes to reduce emissions from soils through reduced tillage, cover crops and relay cropping, as well as improving manure application and storage.
  • Reducing emissions from open burning of agricultural wastes through chipping and mulching programs.
  • Changing feed rations in dairy and poultry operations to reduce nitrogen emissions.

4.5.3 Agricultural Burning

Agricultural burning is a common practice and provides a number of benefits to the agricultural process, including the control of insects and disease, and the maintenance of a natural succession of plant communities. Major pollutants from agricultural burning include particulates, carbon monoxide , nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Substances released through agricultural burning can aggravate heart and lung disease, irritate eyes, throat, and sinuses, trigger headaches and allergies, and increase the severity of pre-existing health problems such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and bronchitis.

Approximately 2,000 agricultural fires are set each year in Washington, and it is estimated that 40,000 tonnes of pollution are released into the atmosphere from this practice.

In 2000, there were more than 900 agricultural fires in the Lower Fraser Valley, which accounted for the significant proportion of PM10, PM2.5 and CO emissions in the area (20%, 42% and 48%, respectively, of total agricultural emissions). In addition, these fires are estimated to have produced approximately 700 tonnes of smog-forming pollutants in the two regional districts. Emissions from agricultural burning in the Lower Fraser Valley are forecast to remain relatively constant between 2000 and 2020 (Levelton Engineering Ltd., 2004).

4.6 Wood Burning

Wood burning includes backyard burning and heating with domestic wood stoves. Backyard burning comprises the burning of household yard waste. This practice has become increasingly regulated and has decreased over time. A number of households, particularly in rural areas of the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound region, continue to use wood heating. Smoke released through backyard burning contains carbon monoxide , particulate matter, sulphur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and other toxic substances. The burning of wood in older stoves and fireplaces can result in significant emissions of particulate matter; smoke released through outdoor burning and woodstove heating has long been identified as a health problem. In Seattle, outdoor PM levels are found to be heavily influenced by residential woodstoves (Naeher et al., 2007). On an annual basis, 60% of the fine particle mass in Seattle residential neighbourhoods is from wood burning (Schwartz et al., 1993). It should be noted that PM is only one of the toxic components of wood smoke. Health effects research in Seattle shows association between PM2.5 and lung function decrements in children (Koenig et al., 1993), visits to emergency departments for asthma (Sheppard et al., 1999), hospitalizations for asthma, and increases in asthma symptoms in children (Yu et al., 2000). Since wood burning is the primary source of fine particles in the Seattle airshed, the health effects studies suggest a causal relationship. Another study found significant lung function decrement in asthmatic subjects with increasing exposure to wood smoke (Bates et al., 2003).

4.7 Chapter Summary

The current social and economic trends in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound airshed have the potential to contribute to a decline in air quality. These trends include urban sprawl, increased automobile use, increased energy consumption and increased international trade. Understanding these trends can help with modelling future air quality and identifying future policy directions.

Population growth and distribution is linked to a number of trends influencing air quality. By 2020, the population in the Georgia Basin region is forecasted to exceed four million people, and the Puget Sound region is projected to exceed five million people. As a result, energy consumption is expected to grow over this period. Increase in energy consumption has occurred in Washington state and British Columbia since the 1970s, although there has been increased energy efficiency in both economies, as a result of the shift to a service-based economy.

Given that Port Metro Vancouver, the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle serve as gateways for international trade, business and tourism, transportation is a major driver of the economy, as well as a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions within the region. In the airshed, marine vessels are a significant contributor to smog-forming emissions. Between 2000 and 2010, the numbers of commercial vessels and volume of containerized goods have increased significantly for all three ports. Specific actions, such as the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, clean truck programs, marine vessel fuel and technology programs, and shore power initiatives are underway to reduce marine and port emissions.

The agricultural industry is a significant contributor of emissions, most originating from general farming practices and agricultural burning. A number of Best Management Practices are currently being piloted in the Lower Fraser Valley to reduce agricultural emissions.

Given the past and projected social and economic trends in the Georgia Basin and Puget Sound Airshed, the need to further improve and protect air quality is recognised by regional, state and federal agencies alike. Currently, government agencies are piloting various air quality management programs and developing emissions reductions plans to protect air quality in this international airshed.

4.8 References

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