Release 07-45
October 15, 2007

    Patricia Rey
(916) 322-2990

Governor Schwarzenegger signs legislation to add urban, rural perspective
to San Joaquin Valley Air Board

SB 719 (Machado) increases the size of the San Joaquin Valley Air Board to 15 members

SACRAMENTO - During a ceremony in Fresno today, ARB Chairman Mary Nichols announced that Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation over the weekend that will add public health and science expertise to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

SB 719, authored by Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden), calls for the governing board to increase its membership from 11 to 15 by adding two public members appointed by the Governor and two city representatives.

"With the Governor's signature, the people of the San Joaquin Valley can breathe a little easier knowing that their health and the pace of cleanup will be the sole focus of four new expert board members," said Mary Nichols, ARB Chairman. "Added to the hardworking board of locally elected officials that is already at work, the new board members will help to meet the Governor's goal of bringing clean air to the Valley as soon as possible."

"I want to thank the governor for signing SB 719 and for his commitment to cleaner air for the central valley. Cleaning the valley air is everyone's responsibility," said Senator Machado. "These additions to the San Joaquin Valley Air Board broaden its representation to include those that suffer most from bad air. Working together we can make the valley a healthier place. This would not of been possible without the persistence of all of the stakeholders. They are the ones who deserve the credit for this bill. I thank them for their hard work."

The new legislation guarantees that both urban and rural perspectives have a voice in the Valley's policy decisions. SB 719 adds a total of four new members to the local air district governing board: two medical experts appointed by the governor and two representatives of large valley cities with more than 100,000 residents (Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Visalia and Bakersfield). The greater impact comes from the added medical angle, specifically, one member will have to be a physician with expertise in the health impacts of air pollution; and the other will be required to have medical or scientific expertise in air pollution.

Along with SB 719, the Governor signed a second legislation that will directly affect the San Joaquin Valley. SB 23 (Cogdill) provides an opportunity for the local air district to remove old, high-emitting cars from the road and offer an alternative to consumers who cannot afford to purchase a newer vehicle. The program will be an incentive-based pilot effort, where local residents can donate a low-emission vehicle to the air district and in turn, claim the fair market value of the vehicle donated as an incentive to choose this program instead of another donation venue where only a portion of the vehicle value would be recovered.

Two more pieces of legislation affecting statewide air quality victoriously made it through the Governor's desk. AB 233 (Jones) will help reduce diesel particulate exposure by increasing fines and preventing registration of trucks with outstanding citations for pollution violations. Diesel particulate matter is responsible for 70 percent of the cancer risk associated with breathing toxic air pollutants in California. This bill also directs the ARB to develop a comprehensive plan for enforcing its diesel regulations for all vehicles and engines.

The Smog Check Program will be augmented by the addition of all 1998 and newer vehicles weighing less than 8,500 pounds beginning January 1, 2010. AB 1488 (Mendoza) will reduce 0.7 tons per day of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions in 2014 by authorizing light and medium duty diesel vehicles to be tested with on-board diagnostics. Emission reductions from diesel-powered vehicles are necessary to protect the health of Californians and to further the state's progress towards meeting air quality goals.

The ARB is also in the process of allocating the first $250 million out of the $1 billion from Proposition 1B bond funding for 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 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.

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.