Release 07-51
November 8, 2007

    Patricia Rey
(916) 322-2990

ARB credits local air district for stationary source program improvements

Regulators now must tackle land use, trucks, agricultural equipment and promote new technologies

SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board issued a report today that concluded the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has improved significantly over the past several years and now regulates all stationary sources of pollution that fall under its purview.

ARB staff conducted the analysis after being directed by the Board in June to work with stakeholders via the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Task Force to identify new measures that could be undertaken to clean up Valley smog sooner. ARB staff has since met with the task force five times throughout the Valley and held three community meetings to solicit additional input from residents.

“We have a typical good news/bad news story here: the good news is that the local air district is doing its part to regulate local pollution sources. The bad news is that the remaining areas still needing some work – trucks, agricultural equipment and suburban sprawl – will be thorny issues with no real easy answers,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “ARB can commit to reducing emissions from agricultural equipment and trucks but local officials need to take charge of their growth. We owe it to Central Valley residents to continue to search for solutions to clean up their air.”

Last month, ARB committed to actions that would take the Valley 90 percent of the way to attainment with federal ozone standards by 2018. The state improved earlier attainment plans by adopting a new regulation for off-road construction equipment that the local air district can tailor for its needs, as well as proposing other new measures for trucks and agricultural equipment that will help clean the Valley’s air. To close the final 10 percent gap, regulators will need to look into ways to reduce pollution from agricultural operations and via local land use planning efforts.

The Air Resources Board will consider a proposal to regulate farm equipment such as tractors and combines in 2009. In the meantime, the Board is requesting the local air district to work with the Valley’s Councils of Governments to devise a strategy that addresses pollution from sprawl that leads to increased miles travelled and overall sustainability.

Finally, ARB staff outlined recommendations for the San Joaquin Valley Air District, which included among others, to raise its cost-effectiveness thresholds for Best Available Control Technology for new sources to be in line with other air districts, to widen its search for cutting-edge technologies by looking beyond the Valley for innovative technology applications, and to continue its local task force with expanded purview to add industrial as well as mobile sources.

ARB and local air district staff are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to hold a technology forum at UC Merced next spring since emerging environmental innovations will also play a key role in reducing local pollution in the coming years.

The Air Resources Board will hear today’s staff report and recommendations at next week’s hearing in Sacramento.

To see the ARB’s staff report: “Accelerating San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Progress,” please click 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.