State air board OKs Southern California smog plan at Riverside meeting

[Source: The Press Enterprise] The California Air Resources Board voted to approve Southern California’s smog clean-up plan during their meeting in Riverside on Thursday, March 23.

Board officials said that low- and zero-polluting trucks are essential if the plan is to succeed.

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to work expeditiously to develop standards for much cleaner trucks, and the air board will work with the Trump administration, a CARB staffer said.

Philip Fine, deputy executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said the smog clean-up plan is aggressive in reducing factory pollution and will protect public health.

The plan would eventually eliminate a pollution-credits marketplace that regulates emissions from oil refineries and other major smokestack polluters. It calls for those facilities to cut nitrogen dioxide emissions by five tons by 2025, and would replace the marketplace with direct pollution control rules as soon as practical.

But the air district left intact controversial provisions for pollution reduction from the region’s ports and warehouse centers to be achieved through voluntary compliance with industry.

The plan also seeks state authority to impose rules requiring public agencies to use near-zero and zero emission trucks, and tougher rules to cut pollution from airports.

The plan will serve as a blueprint for future regulations designed to meet the federal health standard for ozone, the hallmark pollutant of summer smog. And it still needs approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The South Coast district regulates air pollution in the ocean-to-mountains air basin over Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

Dozens of people testified at Thursday’s meeting, held at the Riverside County administrative building.

Earth Justice attorney Paul Cort criticized the smog plan, saying it relies on federal rules that don’t exist and more than $1 billion in funds that won’t come.

San Bernardino resident Ericka Flores said that economically vulnerable people live near polluting industries. “They move there and they get asthma and cancer.”

Sadia Khan of San Bernardino said her dad died at 45 because of poor air quality. “How many members of my family have to die before you guys wake up?”

Kathleen Dale of Moreno Valley said her city is becoming a warehouse district and the smog plan needs to address associated air pollution.

Public testimony ended around 1:45 p.m. after more than 50 people spoke.

Afterward, CARB members began discussing the South Coast air clean-up plan, indicating they were in favor.

CARB member Barbara Riordan said she supports the plan. The air has improved, but work needs to be done and the plan “goes forward,” she said.

“There is a lot of good there,” CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols said, referring to the plan. The AQMD “deserves praise for going as far as they have.”

Source: The Press Enterprise
March 23, 2017