Release 07-37
September 19, 2007

    Patricia Rey
(916) 322-2990

ARB launches public process to implement $1 billion for clean air projects

First $250 million to be decided by next Spring

SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today released a draft concept paper to support the allocation of the first phase of the $1 billion generated by Proposition 1B funding, which will fund projects to reduce air pollution associated with the movement of goods by trucks, trains, ships and harbor craft.

After an extensive public process, ARB will convert the concept into guidelines that the Board must approve by the end of this year.

"The voters spoke loud and clear when they overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1B last November, and we aim to run an efficient and effective process that translates into public health benefits in communities sooner rather than later," said ARB Acting Executive Officer Mike Scheible. "These projects will achieve air quality improvements above and beyond anything required by current law or regulation."

Proposition 1B was the transportation bond put on the ballot by the Legislature and before the voters in November 2006. It was part of Gov. Schwarzenegger's Strategic Growth Plan and included $1 billion to accelerate badly-needed air quality improvements from the freight transport industry. Voters approved the near $20 billion bond which also made significant investments in highway improvements, congestion relief, expanded public transit, safer rail crossings, and improved anti-terrorism security at shipping ports.

The 2007-08 Budget, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger last month, funds the initial $250 million of the $1 billion set aside for air quality improvement projects in Proposition 1B. The funds will be invested in projects intended to improve air quality related to the movement of goods along four major transportation corridors: from the Los Angeles ports to the Inland Empire, State Route 99 in the Central Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego border region. The Board is focused on funding projects that reduce emissions and health risk, incorporate simplicity and efficiency, ensure cost-effectiveness, leverage other funding sources, and provide transparency and accountability.

ARB is conducting an extensive public process for developing the guidelines. Public meetings will start in early October to discuss program development, program guidelines and staff draft concepts:

The program guidelines will identify the criteria, procedures and specific requirements to be followed by local agencies and equipment owners to receive bond funding. The Air Board will consider approval of the program guidelines at a public hearing in December. Staff will then solicit applications from local agencies and the Board will select projects for the initial $250 million by June of 2008.

The program is likely capable of reducing combined emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and diesel particulate matter by over 250,000 tons during the life of the bond-funded equipment. Anticipated funding for widespread application of diesel particulate filters on trucks, the greatest reduction in health risk will be achieved in the first five years of the program to immediately reduce the existing health impacts.

Bond funds will flow via grants from ARB to local agencies, then to equipment owners. At both steps in the process, there is competition to ensure that the most beneficial projects are funded. The key elements of the competition will be the ability of the project to reduce emissions and the readiness of the local agencies and the equipment owners to expedite every step of the process to get cleaner equipment operating sooner. The program will also need to complement ARB regulatory programs by providing incentives to achieve faster or greater progress.

For more information, please visit ARB website 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.