Release 07-38
September 24, 2007

    Patricia Rey
(916) 322-2990

San Joaquin Valley's clean air efforts paying off

ARB to propose comprehensive measures to deliver cleaner air sooner

FRESNO - Leading up to this week's hearing on the State Implementation Plan, the Air Resources Board today announced an expedited strategy to reduce ozone in the Central Valley 90 percent by 2018.

"Today's recommendations for an expedited process shows that we heard the Valley residents' call for cleaner air, faster," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "After four meetings with stakeholders from Arvin to Fresno since June, we feel we have an aggressive new approach to a longtime problem. We want communities in the San Joaquin Valley to know that we take their air quality seriously and have renewed our efforts to identifying as many new emission reductions as we can, as soon as we can."

At the hearing this past June in Fresno, the Board thoroughly discussed the air quality challenges of meeting the federal 8-hour ozone standard in the San Joaquin Valley. Since then, ARB staff has held two community meetings and two San Joaquin Valley Task Force meetings to solicit new ideas on further emissions reductions.

With the critical input from the stakeholder process, ARB staff is proposing several measures in the coming year, including regulations for diesel trucks and agricultural equipment, that will yield an additional reduction of 26 to 31 tons of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a major contributor to ozone. This ambitious goal will be accomplished by using a variety of state tools and relying on local and federal regulators to contribute as well. Specifically, ARB is proposing to:

The ARB will also allocate $1 billion in the next few years in Proposition 1B bond funding for statewide projects which San Joaquin Valley agencies can apply for and use to fund local projects aimed at reducing harmful emissions coming from goods movement-related, i.e., trucks and railroads. This year, the budget fund $250 million of the $1 billion set aside for emission reduction projects.

Additionally, ARB has recently instituted several regulations that will help clean Central Valley air, including the introduction of ultra low sulfur diesel and the passage of the country's first regulations addressing diesel emissions from off-road construction equipment such as tractors and backhoes. The new diesel blend is already reducing diesel pollution from cars, trucks and buses along Highways 5 and 99. The off-road rules will translate into cleaner air beginning in 2012.

At today's San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Task Force meeting, stakeholders will review ARB staff proposals of augmentations of mobile source reductions, concepts introduced by the International Sustainable Systems Research Center and new ideas from the community. The ARB Chairman has directed staff to report back to the full Board on the public discussions and input generated by the task force meetings at the Nov. 15, 2007 hearing.

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.