Release 07-30
August 6, 2007

    Dimitri Stanich
(916) 322-2990

State, local effort collects $13 million from Sierra Pacific settlement

One of largest air pollution settlement cases in California history

SACRAMENTO: In one of the Air Resources Board's largest-ever penalty cases, Sierra Pacific Industries, a lumber company headquartered in Redding, Calif. recently paid $13 million to settle allegations of air quality violations at four of the company's Sierra foothills sites.

The California Air Resources Board, in cooperation with the California Attorney General and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, jointly investigated the alleged violations against Sierra Pacific, and then filed a civil complaint in 2004. The complaint alleged failure to comply with air pollution control regulations at some Sierra Pacific sawmills and wood-fired boilers located in Lincoln, Quincy, Loyalton and Susanville (now closed).

"The cumulative effects of numerous small, scattered air violations can compromise air quality just as much as larger, more visible violations," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. "This settlement should send a clear message to companies throughout the state that the environmental cops are on the beat."

Among the alleged air quality violations in the civil complaint were:

Sierra Pacific has since taken steps to address the problems, including a $17 million investment in its Lincoln cogeneration plant to replace a turbine and boiler.

The settlement includes $8.5 million for public agency costs, fees and penalties, and $4.5 million for programs to benefit air quality, including facility improvements not otherwise required and extensive compliance auditing, monitoring and oversight. As part of the settlement, Sierra Pacific will ensure that all alleged conditions will not occur in the future.

Ninety percent of Californians breathe unhealthy air during some part of the year. Assuring compliance with emission regulations is critical to public health protection and is part of ARB's overall plan to meet state and federal air quality goals.

Information from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District can be found here:

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.