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- Upcoming Mobile Source classes
- Big Trucks Will Have to Get Cleaner - And Industry Is Fine With That
- Attention Contractors! Seeking feedback regarding a proposed change in the use and permitting of emergency generators
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The Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition (CIAQC) was founded in 1989 to help their members understand and navigate the ever-increasing web of government environmental regulation under which they operate their businesses and build our communities, our infrastructure and the environmental systems that will enhance California’s future.
Don't put AQMD under CARB's thumb
A 20-year study released last week by the USC Environmental Health Centers found “that millennial children in Southern California breathe easier than ones who came of age in the ’90s, for a reason as clear as the air in Los Angeles today,” in the school’s summary. It’s a major achievement for the Southern California Air Quality Management District, which was set up 70 years ago.
Yet there’s a movement in the state Legislature to increase centralized control over this success story of local government. Senate Bill 1387 is by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León; it was approved Wednesday by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Among other things, it would greatly increase the supervision of the AQMD by the California Air Resources Board.
And it would expand AQMD board membership by three, to 16. Currently, 10 board members are elected local government officials, while one each is appointed by the governor, Assembly speaker and the head of the Senate Rules Committee. Those three politicians, under SB1387, would appoint the three new members, who, in the bill’s language, must “be representatives of a bona fide nonprofit environmental justice organization that advocates for clean air and pollution reductions in one or more communities within the South Coast air basin.” That is, they likely would be environmental activists.
The bill analysis quotes Sen. de León as complaining about the AQMD board: “Within the last six months, with its recent changes in governance, it has voted to dismiss its longstanding executive officer and weaken clean air regulations over its expert staff’s recommendations.”
We would point out that those kinds of decisions are the job of a governing board.
“AQMD since it was created always has gone forward cleaning the air, never backward,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson told us; he is one of the elected local officials on the AQMD board. He said Sen. de León’s complaints are “just a bank shot for increasing CARB’s powers.”
In the bigger picture, SB1387 is part of Sen. de León’s lengthy campaign to reduce air pollution to unrealistically low levels. It should be rejected by the full Senate and by the Assembly.
Regulators must balance clean-air goals with job growth
Anyone who grew up in the Inland Empire in the 1970s and 1980s knows the story.
Going outside to play on a summer afternoon meant burning eyes and lungs. If you moved here in the summer, you didn’t know there was a mountain range a few miles from your home until October’s Santa Ana winds blew away the smog.
We have made remarkable progress cleaning the air in the past three decades, yet our region still has the nation’s dirtiest air. The federal government has imposed deadlines for meeting stricter air quality standards and threatened us with draconian regulatory measures and the loss of critical funding for transportation if we don’t meet their targets.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is in the process of drafting a plan to reach those targets, and deadlines are looming. The most difficult, if not impossible, target is the 2023 ozone standard, followed by an even stricter standard in 2032. And the feds keep moving the goalpost, recently reducing the acceptable level of ozone to just above natural background levels.
EPA adopts new smog standard that environmentalists say is weak
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has adopted a stricter smog limit that will force states to reduce emissions and improve respiratory health for millions over the next decade while bringing billions in pollution-control costs to industry.
The EPA on Thursday issued a new standard for ground-level ozone of 70 parts per billion, the weakest limit under consideration by the agency.
The decision, which has been delayed for several years, came as a disappointment to public health advocates and environmentalists, who had endorsed a more stringent 60-ppb standard. They said they were likely to challenge the new standard in court, calling it too weak to protect Americans from harmful levels of air pollution.
"President Obama has missed a major opportunity," said John Walke, senior attorney and director of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Industry groups have waged a fierce lobbying and advertising campaign in recent months aimed at weakening or preventing new smog standards, which they predict will stifle businesses and weaken economic growth.
The National Assn. of Manufacturers called the rule “a punch in the gut” to companies across the nation. The Obama administration had threatened to impose an even tighter ozone standard, the group said, but “the worst-case scenario was avoided.”
“However, make no mistake: The new ozone standard will inflict pain on companies that build things in America — and destroy job opportunities for American workers,” NAM President Jay Timmons said.
Anti-carbon crusade clouded with uncertainities
Declaring it a moral imperative, California’s leading figures have embarked on a crusade to “decarbonize” the state, sharply reducing emissions of gases they say threaten to wreak havoc, even extinction, on the globe’s human population.
“We don’t even know how far we’ve gone, or if we’ve gone over the edge,” Gov. Jerry Brown said last week at a Vatican conference on climate change, tied to an encyclical by Pope Francis. “We are talking about extinction. We are talking about climate regimes that have not been seen for tens of millions of years. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.”
A first-stage decarbonization program is underway. But Brown and other political figures, such as Kevin de León, the president pro tem of the state Senate, want California to set a global example over the next 15 years by reducing petroleum consumption in cars and trucks by 50 percent, making buildings more energy-efficient and increasing electrical production from renewable sources – solar, wind and geothermal – from 33 percent, the current goal, to 50 percent. De León is carrying Senate Bill 350 that would implement those goals.
Their crusade, however, raises multiple questions:
- How will those ambitious goals be met, and at what cost?
- Will decarbonization be the economic boon that Brown and others envision, or will it make California less attractive for job-creating investment?
- Will it have a trend-setting effect on global carbon policy, or be ignored by the rest of the world?
- Does it even go far enough?
The last question is, in some ways, the most intriguing.
EPA proposes tougher fuel-efficiency standards for trucks
By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration on Friday proposed tough new standards to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide pollution from trucks and vans, the latest move by President Barack Obama to address global warming.
The new rules are designed to slash heat-trapping carbon emissions by 24 percent by 2027 while reducing oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the rule.
Medium and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, polluting the air and contributing to climate change. The trucks and vans comprise only 5 percent of vehicles on the road.
The proposal comes amid a flurry of recent actions by Obama on the environment, including a new federal rule regulating small streams and wetlands and a separate rule to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes.
West Sacramento firm’s heavy-duty equipment goes on auction block
Shopping for a massive Caterpillar tractor? Or an articulated dump truck? Wednesday, those are among more than 2,000 pieces of heavy-duty construction equipment and other items going up for auction in Dunnigan, part of a routine Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers sale of used equipment.
But the auction is anything but routine for Craig Hobday, owner and president of Compaction Rentals in West Sacramento. For him, it’s the end of an era.
After more than 40 years of renting and leasing industrial equipment for construction projects all over Northern California, Hobday recently closed the company he and his late father, Ed, purchased in 1973. He’s put almost all of his inventory on the Ritchie Bros. auction block.
Ritchie Bros. is touting Hobday’s fleet of 70 heavy-duty Caterpillar tractors, motor scrapers, motor graders, dump trucks and excavators as a veritable treasure trove for contractors, equipment companies and others who are expected to post bids. Those pieces alone are estimated to bring in more than $9 million, with 15 more pieces of Hobday equipment also for sale.
Mike Brenner, Ritchie Bros. regional sales manager, characterized the midweek auction as “one of the nicest selections of late-model, well-maintained Caterpillar equipment we’ve ever seen at our site.”
Did The Most Expensive Regulation Ever Just Arrive At The White House?
Look out! Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just sent what could be the most expensive regulation ever to the Office of Management and Budget for final review. We don’t know what the ozone rule will look like, but an EPA advisory board is pushing for standards that would, under EPA’s own estimates, cost about $100 billion to comply with every year. Another study by the National Association of Manufacturers estimates the rule could cost $270 billion per year and would put millions of jobs at risk.
Also pointing towards a huge price tag, EPA was ready to issue the ozone rule in 2011 but President Obama delayed the rule fearing the regulation’s cost would hamper his reelection chances. No longer encumbered by the electorate, the ozone rule will likely come at a huge cost. With the EPA already promulgating 9 of the 10 most expensive regulations in history, this sort of activity has become par for the course.
In high enough concentrations, NOx – which is what the ozone rule is intended to regulate – can cause respiratory problems. As such, EPA has been ratcheting down ozone emissions levels since 1997. The real contention with the EPA rule is that we have reached the point of diminishing returns – the cost of squeezing more NOx out of the ozone is extraordinarily expensive now that the air is relatively clean.
The nonattainment death sentence
The United States is broken down into hundreds of areas that monitor air quality. Under the ozone rule, areas that do not meet EPA regulations are placed in “nonattainment” status, which triggers a whole bunch of government interference.
Once a region is branded as nonattainment, regulators scrutinize nearly all economic activity that occurs within the area. States with nonattainment areas are required to submit state implementation plans (SIP) to explain to EPA how they intend to get back to attainment. These plans can significantly drive up costs for existing power generators and businesses and deter future investment. Businesses already operating in nonattainment areas can be required to spend enormous amounts of capital to upgrade equipment. Drivers will probably have to trek to their local DMV to get their car emissions okayed.
Manufacturers and new businesses looking to build new or upgrade existing facilities avoid nonattainment areas like the plague. In addition to new permitting requirements, new emissions in nonattainment areas must be offset. Since it is pretty difficult to construct a plant that doesn’t release emissions, businesses are forced to purchase emission credits or forgo construction.
Currently, the number of areas in nonattainment status are manageable:
Under a possible version of the new ozone rule, the number of nonattainment areas would skyrocket.
That’s not good.
Ignoring the price tag
How could such a ridiculous result come to be? EPA bases its ozone regulation in large part on the recommendations of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). The CASAC, which sounds independent but is comprised of federal employees, has been ignoring its statutory obligation to advise EPA about the costs associated with its ozone regulation.
CASAC has a long history of burying its head in the sand. Former EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Jeff Holmstead noted that “until recently, most CASAC members were not aware that they have a statutory obligation to advise the head of EPA on certain issues. As far as I know, CASAC had never fulfilled this [109(d)] requirement as it relates to the ozone standard or any other.” On the eve of potentially the most expensive regulation ever, now might be a good time to start.
Holding the EPA accountable
A July 28 letter from Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Chairman of the House Science Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) outline “several types of adverse effects that are often excluded from the Agency’s cost analyses, including public health, welfare, social economic, or energy effects. Each of these criteria should be specifically addressed. This includes the public health and welfare losses from reduced income and employment that could result from a tighter standard that limits economic growth.” Seems reasonable, but EPA has yet to respond to the letter.
Even the inputs EPA does use are hardly bulletproof. As recently as April and May, while EPA was still working on its regulation, the agency issued two corrections memoranda that amended health estimates used to justify the rule. Only days after these errors were resolved, a witness identified new ones.
The consequences of EPA’s regulation are very real – job loss and economic stagnation. One would hope that the most expensive regulation ever would be based on the best data available.
Air quality monitor near I-5 in Anaheim finds higher pollution level
The first permanent air quality monitor near a Southern California freeway has detected elevated pollution levels, a finding that will increase pressure on state and local officials to address health risks facing nearly 1 million people in the region living near busy transportation corridors.
Readings from a new monitoring station 30 feet from Interstate 5 in Anaheim show concentrations of nitrogen dioxide air pollution that are 60% higher than the region as a whole, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said.
The measurements were collected under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules that require air quality monitoring along the nation's busiest roadways.
Monitoring instruments have typically been placed away from major roads and pollution sources because they are intended to gauge regional air quality. Now, the EPA is ordering local regulators to measure and factor in the dirtier air being breathed by tens of millions of people across the country who live within a few hundred feet of a major road.
The data will be valuable to local planning officials, who must consider the environmental impacts of siting developments near traffic, and give more leverage to clean air advocates.
DIESEL CRACKDOWN: State regulators cite offending trucks
Gary Broadwater, 47, didn’t appreciate the $300 citation he received Tuesday, Nov. 19, after the flatbed truck he drove was inspected by state air-pollution regulators just off Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore.
The truck owned by his employer, the Lancaster-based Frazier Corp., didn’t have a special exhaust filter that traps and burns diesel soot to reduce harmful emissions. Nor was the truck registered as part of a small fleet, which would have given the company until Jan. 1 to install such a device or get a new cleaner engine, state regulators said.
“It’s just one thing after another,” said Broadwater, standing in the makeshift truck inspection area on Collier Avenue near the Lake Elsinore Outlet Center. “I like clean air. I Iike clean water. But this is just frivolous,” he said.
Broadwater, a Lancaster resident, climbed back into the cab of the 2006 Peterbilt, holding the thin, yellow-paper ticket as well as educational literature about the California Air Resources Board diesel regulations.
“I got to roll,” he said as he shut the door and drove off with his load of construction equipment.
State air pollution regulators inspected 54 trucks at the location Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. They wrote 13 citations.
These inspectors enforce a complex set of rules approved in 2008 that requires California’s truckers to phase-in the use of cleaner, newer engines or retrofit old engines with the special exhaust filters that cost about $15,000 each.
This owners of about 50,000 trucks in the smallest fleets of three or less face a Jan. 1 deadline to bring their trucks into compliance.
REGION: More aggregate mines needed, report says
California and parts of the Inland area need more aggregate mines to meet future demand and prevent higher construction costs and air pollution, according to a new state report.
The findings of the California Geological Survey report mirror arguments made by mine developer Granite Construction during its failed bid to build Liberty Quarry outside Temecula.
But quarry opponents and Temecula officials said fears of an aggregate shortage are overblown.
Aggregate is sand, gravel and crushed stone used in concrete and blacktop.
"While aggregate isn’t as glamorous as gold, it’s literally one of the cornerstones of modern society and important to the state’s economy," said State Geologist Dr. John Parrish in a news release from the California Department of Conservation, which oversees the survey.
Truckers at Oakland's port undergo pollution inspections
OAKLAND -- Truckers at the Port of Oakland were met this week by inspectors from the state Air Resources Board conducting spot checks of diesel emissions on rigs traveling to and from the docks.
The inspections, which began Tuesday and will be conducted at the port through Thursday, are part of a monthlong statewide effort meant to ensure owners of trucks using state roadways are in compliance with air pollution regulations designed to reduce the amount of cancer-causing emissions that spew from big rigs.
Truckers driving on Maritime Street at the port's outer harbor terminals were randomly selected for a brief inspection during which air resources board personnel checked to ensure trucks had the proper emission filters in place and had registered their rigs with the state board that oversees air pollution standards.
Inspections at the port are part of the resources board's "Gear Up for Clean Truck Month," a multiagency enforcement action that has conducted more than 6,000 inspections of commercial diesel vehicles throughout the state and issued more than 700 violations.
Earth Log: Valley air pollution could halt road funds
The next air-quality crisis in the San Joaquin Valley is brewing around a precious $500 million in federal funds for building freeways and roads.
The money -- along with road-building jobs -- eventually could be frozen if the local air district cannot come up with a plan to clean up tiny bits of soot, diesel, moisture and chemicals called PM-2.5.
The Valley's PM-2.5 problem is one of the worst in the country. This wintertime pollution is more dangerous than warm-weather ozone. It triggers asthma and heart problems. Researchers have confirmed PM-2.5 causes early death.
Several years ago, federal leaders tightened the standard. By December, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District must produce a cleanup plan for this new standard.
District leaders worked many months on a plan that leaders thought would achieve the new standard. It was scheduled for an air district board vote in October.
But this summer leaders learned that traffic on new roads in the next few years will add more pollution than they anticipated.
The district is scrambling. Now the governing board is scheduled to vote in December -- the same month as the federal deadline for the plan.
In another case of environmental rules becoming election fodder, the Obama administration on Friday proposed tighter restrictions on soot, a pollutant caused mainly by smokestacks and diesel engines.
It had been called "the sleeping giant of clean-air issues" by Frank O'Donnell, head of the activist group Clean Air Watch. And while little was made of it until now, Republicans and industry were quick to pounce on it as more red tape in a weak economy.
The proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule would set the maximum allowable standard for soot in a range of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current annual standard, last revised in 1997, is 15 micrograms per cubic meter.
The EPA had delayed its required review of the Clean Air Act's soot provision, leading New York, California and nine other states to sue. Under a court order, the EPA agreed to unveil its proposal this week.
California joins suit against Inland Empire warehouse project
Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris cites concerns about the effect the diesel pollution from trucks using the facility will have on residents. The action highlights her aggressive environmental justice stance.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Thursday ventured into a community known as a "diesel death zone" for its heavy truck pollution and announced her intention to join a lawsuit challenging a massive warehouse project to be built nearby.
Harris' visit to smoggy Mira Loma, where thousands of trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach come to off-load cargo, underlines an aggressive stance on environmental justice issues by the state's highest law enforcement official.
On Wednesday, she proposed a $24.5-million settlement with Chevron to resolve allegations that the company failed to properly inspect and maintain underground storage tanks at 650 gas stations statewide. A month ago, Harris announced a settlement with cargo terminals at the ports requiring that they warn thousands of neighboring residents of the dangers posed by high levels of diesel emissions.
The Mira Loma project, in Riverside County, calls for 24 warehouse and industrial buildings totaling 1.4-million square feet near the 60 Freeway and Etiwanda Avenue in the city of Jurupa Valley. It would result in an estimated 1,500 additional daily diesel truck trips in the vicinity of 101 modest stucco homes where particulate pollutant levels are among the worst in the nation, according to environmental impact documents.
A USC study of 12 Central and Southern California communities found that Mira Loma children had the slowest lung growth and weakest lung capacity compared with similar areas — a handicap likely to affect them for life.
Join Discussion with Senator Bob Dutton on Legislative "Good Government" Reforms
Join Californians for Enforcement Reform and Transparency (CERT), the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition (CIAQC), and the Regulatory Oversight and Analysis Reform (ROAR) coalition for a panel discussion with Senate Republican Leader, Bob Dutton, on the prospects for needed reforms in California to help the business community.
This unique forum promises an open dialogue on bold regulatory reform initiatives that seek to bring California's administrative procedures in-line with generally accepted standards of transparent rulemaking.
2012 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy Public Outreach Workshops Scheduled - July 13 through August 23, 2011
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) develops a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) every four years. The RTP provides a vision for transportation investments throughout the region. Using growth forecasts and economic trends that project out over a 20-year period, the RTP considers the role of transportation in the broader context of economic, environmental and quality-of-life goals for the future, identifying regional transportation strategies to address our mobility needs.
With the passage of Senate Bill 375 (SB 375), which was enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks through integrated transportation, land use, housing and environmental planning, SCAG is tasked with developing a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). The SCS, by law, is a newly required element of the 2012 RTP and will provide a plan for meeting emissions reduction targets set forth by the California Air Resources Board (ARB).
What California Needs to Do to Fix the Transportation System
California’s transportation needs are so great that there has been little discernable progress in meeting them, either year-over-year or decade-over-decade. Rather than focusing on just a few critical priorities, the State spreads too few resources over too many programs with the result that new capacity is long-delayed if provided at all and the physical condition of California’s highways and bridges grows worse every year because of chronic underfunding of maintenance and repair. This untenable situation can and must be reversed.
The USC Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation invite you to join us as national and statewide experts discuss immediate actions the Brown Administration could take to leverage available revenues and support California’s Self Help counties to aggressively reverse the decline of California’s transportation system.
EPA delays tightening of U.S. ozone standards until year's end
The Environmental Protection Agency pushed back plans to tighten ozone standards for at least the second time this year, saying it needs until the end of December so there can be careful consideration of what is best for the U.S.
"Completing this rulemaking has taken longer than anticipated," the agency said in a filing in federal court in Washington. "EPA expects that this process will take an additional two months."
The EPA has proposed reducing the air quality limit for ozone, a main ingredient in smog, to 60 to 70 parts per billion, from the 75 parts per billion set under President George W. Bush in 2008.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said tighter standards are "long overdue" and will help lower health risks.
Frank O'Donnell, president of the Washington-based environmental advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said he is concerned that the EPA may be having second thoughts.
New Tactic in California for Paying Pollution Bill
STOCKTON, Calif. — Officials who have tried and failed to clean the air in California’s smog-filled San Joaquin Valley have seized on a new strategy: getting millions of drivers to shoulder more of the cost.
Faced with a fine of at least $29 million for exceeding federal ozone limits, the San Joaquin Valley’s air quality regulators are proposing an annual surcharge of $10 to $24 on registration fees for the region’s 2.7 million cars and trucks beginning next year. A decision is expected when the governing board meets on Thursday.
Although the surcharge is not expected to change how much people drive or what cars or trucks they buy, air pollution experts say it is a harbinger of the future. After decades of forcing industry to clean its smokestacks, retool car and truck engines and fine-tune gasoline, regulators are exploring what they can do to force consumers to face up to the pollution they cause.
Overestimate fueled state's landmark diesel law
California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state's clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation, The Chronicle has found.
The pollution estimate in question was too high - by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.
California takes new look at diesel rules
California’s air-quality enforcers dramatically overstated the impact of soot from diesel construction equipment, at least in part because the state’s abrupt economic decline idled thousands of vehicles.
Controlling the emissions from off-road diesel equipment – including the vehicles used in heavy construction – has been the subject of debate for years at the Air Resources Board. The construction industry, citing a number of studies, has long complained that ARB’s data was skewed.
The issue is more than a scientific discussion. The potential regulations could cost billions of dollars to put into effect, according to estimates from the government as well as private industry. By the ARB’s own estimate, based on federal data, diesel pollution results in some 9,000 premature deaths annually, most from respiratory-related illnesses.
The ARB’s earlier projections served as the basis of regulations to phase in soot-blocking equipment on diesel fleets beginning this year. The ARB has halted the rules while it reviews its research and findings, which had been sharply challenged by the construction industry and some scientific researchers.
ARB concedes error in off-road truck rule, plans to revise regulation
The California Air Resources Board acknowledged something Tuesday that critics have been saying for months: the state vastly over-estimated the amount of diesel pollution emitted by big off-road construction vehicles.
The error, contained in an ARB computer model and compounded by a recession that idled far more trucks than expected, means that the construction industry would come close to meeting state-mandated targets for reducing pollution through 2025 even if regulations designed to force firms to retire or retrofit their dirtiest trucks are repealed.
Disagreeing With CARB May Cost Your job
Katy Grimes: A 34-year environmental health sciences professor at UCLA appears to be on the chopping block and headed for the unemployment line for speaking out against diesel vehicle regulations, according to Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda. But that is not where it will end if Logue gets his way.
In a CalWatchdog exclusive, Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, shared a letter he authored, signed by 25 other state legislators, addressed to University of California chancellor Gene Block and Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh, stating that legislators believe Dr. James Enstrom is being terminated on August 30, for his outspoken opposition to AB 32, California’s global warming initiative.
Dan Walters: Storm blows again over diesel-soot rule
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger staged a set-piece media event in a Southern California railyard Monday and, among other things, echoed the assertions of his air quality regulator, Mary Nichols, that diesel truck and locomotive soot is a major health hazard.
But is it?
There's actually an intense argument in scientific and regulatory circles about diesel "particulates" – so intense that the leading academic critic of proposed diesel soot regulations has been ousted from his professorship at UCLA for, he says, not going with the academic and political flow.
LOIS HENRY: Independent thought not wanted at UCLA
I know you're going to wonder why you should care about some brainiac getting the boot at UCLA. So let me start by explaining why it matters, then we'll get to the nitty gritty of what happened.
It matters because it looks like UCLA is firing this guy because his work on air pollution doesn't fit with popular thinking and it wants to shut him up.
Editorial: Air board still scandalous
Contrary evidence on diesel rules seems to be ignored
In December 2008, this editorial page reported that Hien Tran – the lead California Air Resources Board scientist on a study used to justify sweeping, costly new rules on diesel emissions – had lied about his academic credentials. The scandal seemed to unfold in slow motion. Finally, 10 months later, two members of the air board – Fresno cardiologist John Telles and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts – denounced the regulatory agency for not disclosing Tran’s dishonesty before the vote to adopt diesel rules based on his work. This helped prompt the suspension of the rules.
Now, 10 more months have passed, and something extremely curious is unfolding.
Contrary to promises made by air board Chairwoman Mary Nichols, the accuracy of Tran’s central premise – that PM2.5 (tiny soot particles from exhaust, smoke and dust) causes thousands of premature deaths each year in California – has been found wanting. In February, a CARB-commissioned outside study was released that found no evidence for his claim. This corroborated independent scientists who said Tran’s theory was flawed because it was based on studies from Eastern states, where sulfates are common and may interact with PM2.5 to harmful effect.
Yet this finding doesn’t seem to have had any effect on regulators, who have informally made clear to industry groups that they still want to impose Tran’s rules even though they will bankrupt hundreds of small businesses that can’t afford expensive new engines or engine retrofits.
This isn’t right. Roberts’ spokesman said Friday that the supervisor plans to raise questions at a board meeting next week about the air board staff’s reaction to the contrary evidence. In disturbing ways, the reaction parallels the staff’s reaction to confirmation of Tran’s deceit and its decision to pursue a cover-up. It may be time for Telles and Roberts to give another lecture to Nichols on honesty and professionalism.
South Coast AQMD Permit Application Penalty "Holiday"
To help protect the region's business climate and clean air interests during current economic conditions, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has established a temporary permit application penalty holiday. This amnesty program is designed to provide most businesses an opportunity to obtain AQMD air quality permits without incurring late fees or violation penalties.
Some facilities, especially small businesses, may be unaware of the requirements for air pollution permits for their operations, and the potential penalties for failing to obtain those permits. If a business does not have all required air quality permits to construct or operate certain equipment, and it is being brought into compliance with applicable rules and regulations, AQMD will not seek penalties for violation of rules that require such permits. In addition, AQMD will waive the normal higher processing fee for failing to obtain a permit. Businesses that come into compliance at this time could see cost savings (depending on equipment type) ranging from $300 to over $5,000. The business, however, will be required to pay normal permit processing fees.
Caltech is base for $20 million air quality study - the state's most comprehensive ever
Minute particles in the air register on computers inside a row of trailers that will remain on an empty lot at Caltech until mid-June.
Inside one of them, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Bill Kuster points to a graph showing how carbon monoxide inches up in the morning.
"We see rush hours and stuff like that," Kuster said, pointing to a spot in the graph when a construction truck working on campus drives past.
Scientists from all over the country are flocking to California this month to conduct the largest study ever on the state's air quality.
To do it, they've launched a fleet of planes and a ship and have built two temporary measuring stations - one at Caltech and the other in the Central Valley. Caltech professor John Seinfeld called the project "the most comprehensive experiment aimed at understanding Los Angeles air quality ever conducted."
Calif. considers delaying diesel-emission rules
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California air regulators took steps Thursday to delay the nation's toughest rules to slash emissions from diesel-powered construction equipment, saying the poor economy has left many of the vehicles sitting idle.
Members of the California Air Resources Board said they want to give companies more time to comply because construction activity in the state is down about 50 percent since the regulations were adopted three years ago, and that has significantly reduced harmful emissions.
Next Round of Federal Regulations Has Suppliers Retooling Clean Diesel
EPA’s Tier 4 tailpipe rule hits next year as new carbon rules linger on the horizon.
The next phase of U.S. regulations aimed at cleaning up airborne emissions from off-road diesel engines will start taking effect in just nine months. The rule, called Tier 4, will all but eliminate the amount of diesel particulate matter (soot) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that new construction equipment will put into the atmosphere.
Split into two subrules, the Tier 4 standard begins phasing in with an interim rule in January 2011 for engines from 175 horsepower to 750 hp and, in 2012, for engines from 75 hp to 175 hp. The Tier 4 rule cuts down the soot an engine may emit by 90% compared to the current Tier 3 standard, and it cuts the amount of NOx an engine is allowed to put out by 45%. What will follow in 2014 is an even tougher Tier 4 Final standard, which will cut NOx output by another 45%. Then, new construction equipment will emit virtually no NOx or soot.
Defections Shake Up Climate Coalition
Three big companies quit an influential lobbying group that had focused on shaping climate-change legislation, in the latest sign that support for an ambitious bill is melting away.
Oil giants BP PLC and ConocoPhillips and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday they won't renew their membership in the three-year-old U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a broad business-environmental coalition that had been instrumental in building support in Washington for capping emissions of greenhouse gases.
The move comes as debate over climate change intensifies and concerns mount about the cost of capping greenhouse-gas emis sions.
Winds carry Asian smog component to Western U.S., study finds
Experts say that baseline ozone, the amount of gas not produced by local vehicles and industries, has increased in springtime months by 29% since 1984.
Ozone from Asia is wafting across the Pacific on springtime winds and boosting the amount of the smog-producing gas found in the skies above the Western United States, researchers said in a study released Wednesday.
Obama's EPA to ratchet down smog goals
New federal clean-air guidelines will continue to reduce smog in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas, but business owners struggling in the down economy feared any new rules would threaten their livelihoods, according to officials and business owners.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed stricter health standards for smog, replacing limits that reportedly ran counter to recommendations from scientists.
State air board must clean its own house
The California Air Resources Board recently threw out a tainted study about the health effects of diesel truck emissions after it was disclosed that the author of the report had lied about his academic credentials. CARB officials had known since December 2008 that the researcher had falsified his credentials, but did not tell board members.