California approves New Clean Air Plan for the San Joaquin Valley

The below Jan. 24, 2019 news release is from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The San Joaquin Valley has been working for decades to improve air quality by putting into place the toughest and most innovative clean air measures anywhere. These efforts have not been easy or cheap – billions in dollars have been invested by Valley agriculture and businesses to upgrade equipment, modernize fleets, install pollution control equipment, and enhance operating practices with the goal of improving air quality and public health. Despite decades of progress and significant reductions in air pollution, the San Joaquin Valley continues to face difficulty in meeting the latest federal health-based air quality standards due to its unique geography, topography, and frequently stagnant weather conditions that create air-quality challenges unmatched by any other region in the nation.

Building on these past air quality efforts, the Valley Air District, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Valley stakeholders have worked to prepare a new PM2.5 plan that outlines the actions necessary for further improving the Valley’s air quality and meeting the newest federal air quality standards for fine particles. The new plan, unanimously approved by CARB today [Jan. 24, 2019], was developed through an extensive public engagement process by the Valley Air District and was supported by dozens of public meetings and workshops involving residents, businesses, public agencies, and others that invested time to participate and provide valuable input.

“The adoption of this plan is the next step in our clean air journey that will require continued support from all Valley sectors and significant investment at the state and federal level. The District will continue its work with residents, businesses, and agencies throughout the San Joaquin Valley to implement this clean air plan and continue to improve quality of life for all Valley residents,” said Samir Sheikh, Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer.

The plan contains a range of new regulations, clean air grants, and other innovative measures across every sector that accelerate the deployment of new technologies and will reduce air pollution significantly in the years to come, including:

  • Even further restrictions on the use of residential wood-burning devices and fireplaces, increased public education of the health impacts of wood smoke, and increased grants for transitioning to clean devices
  • New rules to further reduce air pollution from industrial sources such as boilers, steam generators, internal combustion engines, glass manufacturing facilities, agricultural conservation management practices, and other sources
  • Innovative strategy for reducing air pollution from commercial restaurants using underfired charbroilers
  • A suite of clean air grants for Valley residents, including grants for electric and other clean air vehicles, replacing gas mowers with electric mowers, grants for vanpools, and other grant opportunities
  • A suite of incentive programs for Valley businesses including for the replacement of heavy duty trucks, agricultural equipment, off-road equipment, electric dairy feed mixers, locomotives, almond harvesting equipment, commercial zero-emission lawn and garden equipment, and other grant opportunities

In addition to the Valley Air District’s new local measures, CARB is committing in the new plan to reduce air pollution from mobile sources under their control that now make up the majority of particulate-forming emissions in the Valley. These measures include new regulations for cleaner vehicles and enhanced performance standards for heavy-duty trucks, as well as new incentive-based grant measures to help replace aging heavy-duty trucks and agricultural equipment with new clean technologies. To implement the new clean air grant measures in the new plan, one billion dollars per year in new funding will be required from the state over the next five years.

Moving forward with this new plan will be a major endeavor only achievable through a collaborative approach with Valley residents and businesses, and significant support and investment at the local, state and federal level.

California’s expansive and agriculturally fertile yet often air-polluted San Joaquin Valley

Image (top): Eric Kounce/Wikimedia Commons

Published by Alan Kandel