Summary of AQMD Governing Board Actions
December 10, 1999

In Other Action:

 

BOARD AMENDS CLEAN AIR BLUEPRINT, SETTLES LAWSUIT

The region’s smog-control agency today adopted an addendum to its air quality management plan and afterward announced the settlement of a lawsuit by environmental groups related to past revisions to the plan.

The environmental groups previously settled related litigation against the California Air Resources Board and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

In the addendum to the 1997 air quality management plan, the South Coast Air Quality Management added some pollution control measures and accelerated the effective dates of others. The accelerated cleanup was made possible by new technologies that were unavailable when the 1997 plan was adopted.

The addendum calls for an accelerated reduction of 48 tons per day of volatile organic compounds, or fumes from petroleum-based products that combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, a key smog ingredient.

Adoption of the plan addendum paved the way for a settlement of a lawsuit by environmental groups. The AQMD also hopes the addendum will make the 1997 plan acceptable to the EPA.

A federal court in Los Angeles had proposed to rule in favor of the environmental groups and was preparing a court order requiring implementation of measures from the older, outdated 1994 plan, the last plan approved by the EPA. The AQMD had dropped these measures from its 1997 plan as infeasible, not cost-effective or overly burdensome, such as requiring car-pooling at shopping malls and schools.

"This is a fair and equitable settlement for all involved," said AQMD Executive Officer Barry R. Wallerstein.

"The AQMD has worked with all stakeholders in developing the current plan addendum. More importantly, the addendum will provide the public with cleaner air earlier than anticipated under previous plans."

Wallerstein pointed out that one of the biggest pollution reduction measures called for under the plan addendum has already been adopted, a pioneering rule reducing emissions from solvents. Another, requiring sale of cleaner water heaters, was adopted by the Board today.

The agreement settling the lawsuit with environmental groups is based on the addendum to the 1997 plan that contains several creative elements to assure expeditious progress toward clean air.

But it also includes features to provide assurances to businesses, Wallerstein said, such as including flexibility to substitute alternative measures if proposed controls are found technically infeasible or not cost-effective.

For example, the addendum sets a cost-effectiveness threshold. Rules that cost businesses $13,500 or more per ton of pollution reduction will now require special hearings and analyses before they can be adopted.

The settlement also dissolves if the EPA fails to approve the 1997 plan and its new addendum within six months.

"We believe the settlement," Wallerstein said, "promises to renew the critically important partnership between public agencies, environmental groups and businesses that is needed to make continued progress toward healthful air."


NEW STANDARDS SET FOR GAS WATER HEATERS

Amendments to an AQMD rule will help cut smog by requiring gas water heaters sold in the future to burn cleaner.

The Board’s approval of the amendments to AQMD’s Rule 1121 will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions – a key building block of smog – by up to 8 tons a day by 2015. The reduction in pollution will occur as older water heaters wear out and are gradually replaced by cleaner models.

AQMD has had standards for gas water heaters since 1982, which are updated periodically as cleaner burning water heaters are developed. The new standard, which will be phased in by 2005, will cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% from the level allowed under the current standard.

To meet the 2005 standard, AQMD expects the price for water heaters will increase between $15 and $50.


BOARD APPROVES CONTINUATION OF SMOG PAGER PROGRAM

The Board approved a Regionwide Smog Alert Program to provide real-time air quality information through personal pagers and other telecommunication devices.

The program follows a successful smog pager pilot project conducted earlier this year.

Two paging firms have indicated an interest in providing real-time air quality information to pager subscribers on an ongoing basis.

A survey of the 75 participants in this year’s pilot program showed:

90% of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the program;
97% said the information was useful;
86% recommended continuing the pager program.
56% altered their daily activities as a result of the information provided; and
45% said they would be willing to pay for the service.
During the pilot program, from February through September, AQMD and participating pager companies loaned alphanumeric pagers to volunteers at no cost. Once each day, the pagers notified users of the next day’s air quality forecast. In addition, the pager immediately alerted users whenever air quality reached unhealthy levels.

The pilot paging program implemented a recommendation of the Board’s Ad Hoc Inland Empire Committee.

BOARD TO MEET ON THIRD FRIDAY OF MONTH AT 9 A.M.

The Board voted to switch its regular monthly meeting to the third Friday of the month instead of the second Friday. The next Board meeting will be at 9:30 a.m., Jan. 21.



In Other Action, the Board: 

  • Set a public hearing on proposed Rule 1189 – Emissions from Hydrogen Plant Process Vents, which would reduce emissions of methanol from equipment used to make hydrogen for production of gasoline and chemicals at refineries and chemical plants;
  • Reduced the credit that will be given under Rule 2506 – Area Source Credits for Nitrogen Oxides and Sulfur Oxides for replacement of stationary diesel engines based upon new emissions test data.
The Board approved all other items on the agenda.