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September 18, 2018  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

Ten California Communities Recommended for Neighborhood-Level Emissions Reductions as Part of Community Air Protection Program

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold public meetings on September 27 and 28, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. to consider the proposed requirements to Assembly Bill 617’s (AB 617) Community Air Protection Program (CAPP) that seeks to address air pollution at a more localized level – surpassing current state and regional programs.  The purpose of the public meetings is to gain CARB’s approval of the Final Draft Community Air Protection Blueprint (Blueprint) and select the initial neighborhoods and communities that will participate in CAPP.

AB 617, signed into law in July 2017, requires CARB to address air pollution on a community-focused level to improve air quality in those communities that experience disproportionate exposure to air pollutants (i.e., communities near ports, railyards, freeways, and industrial facilities and warehouses).  To affect its purpose, AB 617 requires participation of California’s local air quality management districts, and effectively creates a state-mandated local program.

AB 617 made notable changes to non-vehicular air pollution regulation, which include, but are not limited to:  (1) increasing the maximum criminal and civil penalties for violations of emissions control limits (from $1,000 to $5,000); (2) requiring CARB to develop a uniform, statewide air pollution and toxic contaminant emissions reporting system for use by certain categories of stationary sources; (3) authorizing air quality management districts that are in nonattainment for air pollutants to adopt an expedited schedule for the implementation of best available retrofit control technology; and (4) authorizing air quality management districts to develop a community air emissions reduction program if a CARB-selected community is within its boundaries.

The Blueprint, released in late August 2018, includes strategies to reduce emissions of specific air pollutants (formally referred to as “criteria air pollutants”) and toxic contaminants through the development of new regulation, incentive grant funding, and resources to support local land use and transportation planning policies.  The Blueprint also sets forth the elements for a community emissions reduction program, which should both center upon community involvement and be adopted within one year of a community’s selection for involvement.  A community emissions reduction program should generally be comprised of the following components:

  • Community Partnership through the development of a Community Steering Committee to ensure a collaborative process and public outreach;
  • Community Profile that describes the air pollution challenges facing the community and includes a technical baseline from which to measure emissions reductions;
  • Solutions to the named air pollution challenges, presented in the form of measurable emissions reduction targets, implementation strategies, and implementation schedule; and
  • Enforcement Plan that tracks progress, compliance goals, and enforcement history to support the development of annual and multi-year metrics.

CARB staff recommended ten communities for deployment and/or development of community air monitoring systems and community emissions reduction programs, respectively.  The recommendations are based on nominations from communities and local air quality management districts (AQMD), as well as CARB’s statewide assessment of communities with high cumulative exposure to toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants.  CARB staff recommended the communities below for participation in CAPP:

  1. Richmond (Bay Area AQMD)
  2. West Oakland (Bay Area AQMD)
  3. Calexico, El Centro, and Heber (Imperial County AQMD)
  4. South Sacramento-Florin (Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD)
  5. Portside Environmental Justice Neighborhoods: Barrio Logan; West National City; Logan Heights; and Sherman Heights (San Diego AQMD)
  6. Shafter (San Joaquin AQMD)
  7. South Central Fresno (San Joaquin AQMD)
  8. East Los Angeles Neighborhoods and Boyle Heights (South Coast AQMD)
  9. San Bernardino and Muscoy (South Coast AQMD)
  10. Wilmington, West Long Beach, and Carson (South Coast AQMD)

CARB is accepting written comments on the Blueprint until 5:00 p.m. on September 24, 2018.  Comments may be submitted electronically (http://www.arb.ca.gov/lispub/comm/bclist.php), or via mail to the following postal address:

Clerk of the Board
California Air Resources
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

A copy of the Public Meeting Notice is available here.

A copy of the Blueprint is available here.

For additional information on the Blueprint, CAPP, and other air-related issues, please contact Alyson E. Ackerman at aackerman@somachlaw.com or 916-469-3843, or Michael E. Vergara at mvergara@somachlaw.com  or 916-469-3824.

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