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AQMD to Address Potential Air Quality Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing

Oct 12, 2012

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) will initiate rulemaking to ensure potential air quality impacts are minimized from oil and gas production activities using hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.”

“Fracking has become commonplace in oil and gas production,” said William A. Burke, Ed.D., AQMD’s Governing Board Chairman.  “We need to ensure that any potential air quality impacts are minimized.”

AQMD’s Board on Oct. 5 directed staff to initiate rulemaking to address potential air quality impacts from hydraulic fracturing.  Rulemaking may include requirements for reporting of chemicals used in the fracking process. In addition, staff will review existing AQMD rules to determine if they are adequate to minimize air quality impacts from fracking, and evaluate advanced technologies available to control emissions from fracking activities.

The increasing use of fracking has led to various environmental concerns.  Given these concerns, AQMD hosted a technology symposium on Sept. 18 to further understand the use of fracking in California and particularly in the South Coast Air Basin. 

Topics covered at the one-day symposium included air quality and greenhouse gas impacts, fugitive emissions, chemicals used and potential toxicity, water impacts, and seismic risk from hydraulic fracturing. View the online report “Hydraulic Fracturing in the South Coast Air Basin” Technology Symposium and Recommendations for Future Actions for a summary of the symposium

The new rulemaking will address comments and input received at the symposium. A report on the progress of rulemaking activities will be provided to AQMD’s Stationary Source Committee early next year. 

Also on Oct. 5, AQMD awarded millions to help clean up older diesel vehicles, and develop and demonstrate zero-emission truck technologies.

AQMD approved $21 million to help fund 67 projects to replace or retrofit 287 older diesel trucks, marine vessels, buses and construction equipment with new, cleaner technology.

The $21 million comes from the state’s Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program, which provides competitive grant funding to cover the cost difference between new heavy-duty diesel engines and alternative, clean fuel or lower-emission engines.  Since 1998, AQMD has awarded more than $298 million in Carl Moyer funding to help clean up 8,000 diesel engines in the region.

The 67 projects will reduce 209.5 tons per year of smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 6.9 tons per year of particulate matter (PM) emissions.

AQMD also awarded $4.1 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) to four local truck manufacturers to develop and demonstrate four zero-emission drayage truck technologies to help reduce diesel emissions from goods movement activities.  Drayage trucks haul cargo containers short distances, typically from the ports to nearby rail centers or warehouses.

The four projects will include three types of battery-electric truck projects to be demonstrated by Balqon in Harbor City, TransPower in Poway and U.S. Hybrid in Torrance, and one fuel cell hybrid truck project at Vision Industries in Gardena.  A total of 13 trucks will be developed.  The three-year project will include one year for development and two years of technology field demonstration. 

Collectively, heavy-duty diesel trucks operating in the Southland emit more than 181 tons of NOx and 5 tons of diesel PM per day.  According to AQMD’s third Multiple Air Toxics Emission Study (MATES III), diesel trucks account for a significant portion of the area’s cancer risk, particularly impacting those living in communities surrounding area ports.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

This page updated: October 12, 2012