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Canada's oil and gas extraction industry spent $2.8 billion to protect the environment in 2006, more than any other industry. Environmental protection expenditures across all industries totalled $8.6 billion.
Although businesses spent more money in 2006 dealing with pollutants and waste after they were generated, they made the largest capital expenditures on pollution prevention measures: 41% of their spending on environmental protection in 2006 went into prevention projects to eliminate pollution at the source. This was the case across all provinces and most industry groups. The exceptions were the oil and gas extraction, mining, wood products manufacturing and primary metals manufacturing industries, for which pollution abatement and control received a higher share of spending.
Over half of the total capital expenditures on pollution prevention in 2006 went toward processes aimed at preventing the release of substances into the air. Capital expenditures on pollution abatement and control projects were also directed largely at preventing the release of air pollutants, accounting for 60% of spending.
Spending on environmental protection measures varies with the size of the business. Collectively, businesses with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 56% of all funds spent on environmental protection in 2006. Medium-sized businesses (100 to 499 employees) accounted for 39% of the total, despite the fact that this size of business represented only 25% of those surveyed.
In fiscal year 2006/2007, federal spending on research and development aimed at control and care of the environment reached $360 million. This accounted for 6% of total federal research and development expenditures in 2006/2007.
Alberta leads spending
Alberta businesses invested the most in facilities and equipment to protect the environment in 2006, surpassing Ontario, the largest spender up until 2002. Capital investment by businesses in Alberta for environmental protection amounted to nearly $1.9 billion in 2006, almost half (49%) of the capital expenditures nationally. Ontario businesses reported $827 million in capital expenditures, followed by those in Quebec ($371 million).
In terms of operating expenses for environmental protection, however, establishments in Ontario spent the largest amount, at $1.6 billion. Alberta businesses were a close second with operating expenses of $1.3 billion.
Alberta's lead position in capital spending was mainly attributable to the oil and gas extraction industry. Capital investments for environmental protection by oil and gas producers, most of which operate in Alberta, totalled over $1.7 billion in 2006. Put in perspective, for every $100 invested by the oil and gas extraction industry, $4 was invested in environmental protection. This investment included pollution abatement and control, waste management, pollution prevention, and reclamation and decommissioning.
The oil and gas extraction industry also reported the highest operating expenses for environmental protection. Of every $100 invested by the petroleum and coal products industry, $20 was for environmental protection, as that industry continued to upgrade refineries to meet new sulphur regulations.
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