By Christie Robinson
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District
In today’s economic climate, regulatory flexibility can mean the difference between success and failure for some businesses. Historically, California’s air quality regulations have garnered a reputation as being some of the most challenging in the nation. The State of California is divided into 35 local air districts that are responsible for implementing these regulations, which apply to stationary sources of air pollution. Each district implements air quality programs required by state and federal mandates and enforces rules and regulations based on air pollution laws.
Every air district in the state must show progress in reducing air pollution to meet state and federal air quality standards in order to preserve the environment and protect the health and safety of the general public.
What Makes The MDAQMD Different?
The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District, the local air district which regulates air quality in the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County & the Palo Verde Valley of Riverside County, is more than 20,000-plus square miles and is structured in a manner which allows policy on air quality issues to be developed and debated by those who are most affected by it: regulated industry and the High Desert community. Thus, the District employs a common-sense, inclusive approach to the development of air quality management programs. The District’s mission is to attain and maintain a healthful environment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth.
To the fullest extent possible, industry and the public are the MDAQMD’s partners in the development of air quality plans, rules, and policy. Through District-sponsored workshops and meetings, MDAQMD staff works in a pro-active manner with those impacted by regulatory mandates to find the most prudent course of action and to resolve conflicts to the maximum extent possible. The District believes that tapping ideas from all possible sources is the best way to find mutually beneficial solutions. As a result, local industry has more flexibility in meeting environmental mandates than their counterparts in neighboring air districts and even some nearby states. Between January and March 2014, the MDAQMD issued 4,010 Active Permits, had 1,510 Permitted Facilities, and received 126 “Authority to Construct/Permit To Operate” applications.
As an example of how the District works with local businesses to help them meet state and federal emission mandates, in 2013 alone, the MDAQMD Governing Board approved $549,146 in funding for four proposals through the District’s AB 2766 Grant Program. The MDAQMD Governing Board allocates 25% of all revenue received from AB 2766 (motor vehicle surcharge) for a recurring competitive grant program. Local municipalities receive 25% of the funds for local projects, while 50% of the funds remain with the District to fund operations. The projects are aimed at reducing emissions from mobile sources within the air district’s jurisdiction.
The MDAQMD also provides funding to assist local industry, agencies and residents in doing their part to protect local air quality. The Carl Moyer Program provides grants to reduce emissions through upgrades to heavy duty diesel equipment. The Voluntary Accelerated Retirement Program (VAVR) provides a $1,000 incentive for residents to get older, high-polluting vehicles off the road. The “Cash for Grass,” lawnmower scrapping incentive program is geared to induce residents to remove grass and install desert-adaptive landscapes and receive a gift card for replacing a water-wise landscape. The annual Electric Lawn Mower Exchange event invites residents to switch out their gas powered mowers for a zero-emission electric mower for as little as $99.00.
MDAQMD also partners with local industry to provide sponsorship and funding for the Mojave Environmental Education Consortium (MEEC), a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by the MDAQMD. MEEC provides STEM-based environmental education resources at no charge to teachers and schools throughout the High Desert. Flagship programs co-hosted by the MDAQMD and MEEC include the Youth Environmental Leadership and STEM Service-Learning Conference, student Solar Oven Cooker Challenge, and the Environmental BusBucks school field trip transportation grant program.
To find out how doing business within the MDAQMD could be good for your business, call 760.245.1661 or visit us online at www.mdaqmd.ca.gov today!