Category Archives: Air Quality

Air Quality General

This Year, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District Celebrates its Silver Anniversary

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By Ryan Orr, Community Relations & Education Supervisor, and Martial Haprov. Administrative Services, Community Relations

Over the last 25 years, MDAQMD has consistently strived to educate the com­munity on air-quality issues. For in­stance, in 2001 MDAQMD spawned the Mojave Environmental Educational Consortium, which has grown into one of the largest non-profits in the High Desert: and which provides environ­mental education to students and assis­tance to teachers.

MDAQMD employs a common sense, inclusive approach to the development of air quality management programs.

Led by Executive Director and Air Pol­lution Control Officer Brad Poiriez, the District boasts 40 full-time employees and encompasses more than 20,000 square miles. As the geographical sec­ond largest air district in the state, the state of Rhode Island could fit within the District’s boundaries 16 times without overlapping. District responsibilities include air monitoring, permitting, in­spections and community outreach, and education.

Despite its large coverage area, the district has fostered an atmosphere of healthy air quality throughout the Mo­jave Desert through its air quality educa­tion, pollution prevention and maintain­ing constant contact with stakeholders.

We aim to relate to regulated businesses in an approachable manner while per­forming our mandated responsibilities.

“We really focus on educating and in­forming our residents on air quality, protecting their health through air monitoring and support­ing lowering emissions,” said Poiriez. “We also fo­cus on building a coopera­tive relationship with lo­cal businesses, creating an atmosphere that promotes responsible and sustain­able economic growth in our communities.”

MDAQMD is committed to providing a welcoming environment to stakeholders currently residing in, or looking to re­locate into, the district, while protecting public health through pollution preven­tion initiatives. Our permit engineering department is the first stop for new busi­nesses. This is where business owners can apply for air quality permits and work closely with engineers to identify permit conditions and regulations appli­cable to their operations.

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 Golden State is divided into 35 local air districts that are responsible for implement­ing these regulations that apply to per­mit engineering of air pollution. Each district enforces rules and regulations based on air pollution laws and imple­ments air quality programs required by state and federal mandates. 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.

To attain and maintain a healthful environment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth.” — MDAQMD Mission Statement

Rather than focusing solely on punitive actions, the MDAQMD takes pride in recognizing businesses that set an example of environmental stewardship. During Pollution Prevention Week each September, the district confers its prestigious Exemplar Award on the best of our regulated community whose work in the area of air pollution prevention or control “raises the bar” for others. Year-round, our inspectors also seek out gas stations that exceed regulatory requirements, and these stations receive the Mojave Green Business Award.

Today, the agency holds 3,869 permits covering 588 companies with 1,203 fa­cilities, including 42 Title V facilities. Title V of the Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollutants, and cer­tain other sources, to obtain and operate in compliance with an operating permit. Title V facilities include industries such as power generation, mining and cement plants. Sources with these “Title V per­mits” are required by the Act to certify compliance with the applicable require­ments of their permits at least annually.

We want to say thank you to the community for a successful 25 years and make it known that we are here to answer questions and help residents and the business community for the next 25 years and beyond.

Air Quality General

Poiriez Carries on MDAQMD’s Business-Responsive Legacy

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Brad Poiriez

By Violette Roberts, Community Relations & Education Manager

Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

Brad Poiriez was appointed Execu­tive Director of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Manage­ment District by the Victorville-based agency’s Govern­ing Board on July 25, 2016. Poiriez is responsible for enforcing the MDAQMD’s rules and regulations, enforcing health and safety provisions and state programs, running the district’s day-to-day operations and supervising the MDAQMD’s 39 em­ployees.

While Poiriez may be new to the MDAQMD, he is no stranger to air qual­ity management, having served as Air Pollution Control Officer for the Imperi­al County Air Pollution Control District since 2008 and as an employee of the El Centro-based air district for over 22 years. Poiriez received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 and has worked in the environmental field for over 23 years. Prior to joining the ICAPCD, Poiriez was employed by the Peoria County Environmental Health Department in Peoria, Illinois.

Poiriez is the past U.S. co-chair of the Imperial Valley/Mexicali Region Air Quality Task Force for “Border 2012” and has worked extensively on the new­ly proposed “Border 2020” program. He was instrumental in getting indus­try representatives and the community involved and participating in develop­ing methods to improve air quality in Imperial County. “Brad’s extensive knowledge of regional air quality is­sues, combined with his years of experi­ence brokering common-sense, clean air solutions at the local and international level, make him an exceptional choice to lead the MDAQMD,” commented MDAQMD Governing Board Member/San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood.

As the local air pollution control agen­cy for San Bernardino County’s High Desert region and the Palo Verde Val­ley portion of Riverside County, the MDAQMD has primary responsibility for controlling emissions from station­ary sources of air pollution within its 20,000-plus-square-mile jurisdiction, which is home to over 550,000 resi­dents. Throughout its 24 year history, the MDAQMD has earned a reputation as one of the most business friendly air districts in California, whose coopera­tive working relationship with regulated industry has become a model for air dis­tricts across the state. Thus, it’s no co­incidence that between 2010 and 2016, the number of permitted facilities locat­ed within the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction increased by 16%, from 966 to 1,122,

While new leadership often brings with it growth and change, Poiriez states that the district’s mission statement–“To attain and maintain a healthful envi­ronment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth–will re­main intact, and keeping the lines of communication open with constituents will continue to be a priority. “When businesses understand what is expected of them and we provide them with the tools to help them comply–whether these tools are in the form of compli­ance assistance, grants or just a friendly ear–we all benefit through increased business retention, enhanced economic development and improved air quality,” said Poiriez.

While the MDAQMD cannot directly create jobs because the severity of the air quality problem in the High Desert is much less than that in the greater Los Angeles area, the MDAQMD’s regulatory structure is less restrictive. This tends to encour­age job relocation from more severely regulated areas (Los Angeles) to less se­verely regulated ar­eas (such as the High Desert). Hence, regulatory flexibility is key to economic and environmental sustainability in the High Desert and is the foundation of the MDAQMD’s ef­forts.

Although it’s impossible to predict the ultimate trickle down effects of Wash­ington’s new administration on local air districts, the MDAQMD plans to con­tinue offering regulated business some of the lowest permitting and applica­tion fees found anywhere in California, as well as providing some of the most expedient permit-processing times. The MDAQMD will also continue to proac­tively promote the creation and recog­nition of emission reductions credits, which allows new sources to site in the High Desert. Generous grants will continue to be offered for local projects which reduce mobile source and diesel emissions thorough the MDAQMD’s AB 2766 and Moyer Grant programs. Regulated businesses which exceed reg­ulatory requirements and reduce emis­sions for the benefit of local air quality will continue to be recognized through the District’s Mojave Green Gas Sta­tion Program and its annual Exemplar Awards. The MDAQMD will also con­tinue to works closely with each appli­cant to cut through the red tape instead of creating an additional layer.

The MDAQMD is proud to exemplify California’s “final frontier” for busi­nesses seeking to locate or remain in the Golden State. For more informa­tion, visit www.mdaqmd.ca.gov or call (760)245-1661 today.

Air Quality General

High Desert Businesses give MDAQMD High Marks for Customer Service

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By Christie Robinson, CRE Specialist, Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

In today’s economic climate, cus­tomer service can mean the differ­ence between success and failure for some businesses and organiza­tions. In January of this year, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Manage­ment District–the local air quality agency for San Bernardino County’s High Desert and Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley–initiated a Cus­tomer Service Satisfaction Survey in an effort to provide the MDAQMD Executive Board with insights on how well staff is meeting the needs of regulated business while issuing permits, inspecting facilities and re­sponding to questions about air qual­ity rules and regulations.

The MDAQMD’s last Customer Ser­vice survey– which was conducted in 1999–produced 26 responses. The 2016 survey produced a total of 60 responses from local industry. More than 650 postcards announcing the survey were distributed using direct mail and e-mails to permittees and other interested parties between Jan­uary 11, 2016 and March 1, 2016.

The MDAQMD’s Customer Service Satisfaction Survey was designed using Survey Monkey and posted to the district’s website. The ques­tionnaire was designed to elicit re­spondents’ opinions on a variety of district services, as well gauge how well the district is performing and how it can improve.

The survey consisted of 15 rating scale questions, ranging from ease of contacting the district, technical and rule support, and ease of apply­ing for a permit. Respondents were asked to provide a rating for each topic on a scale between “poor” and “excellent,” or N/A for not applica­ble. Below are some of the survey’s findings: • More than 65% of respondents rated the ease of reaching District staff by phone or e-mail as “excel­lent.”

  • Accuracy of service/information provided by permitting staff was rat­ed “excellent” by more than 64%.
  • Courtesy and professionalism of compliance staff in conducting facil­ity inspections was rated “excellent” by almost 72%.
  • Timeliness of permitting or com­pliance staff in conducting facility inspections was rated “excellent” by more than 60%.
  • Permitting and compliance staff knowledge of technical issues and applicable regulations was rated “ex­cellent” by almost 72%.
  • Almost 60% of participants rated the level of service provided by the MDAQMD compared to other Cali­fornia air districts as “excellent.”
  • Nearly 85% of the respondents rated their overall satisfaction with ease of applying for a permit or au­thority to construct between “excel­lent” and “good.”

Several questions on the survey asked for comments; a sampling is provided below:

  • “Inspectors have been approach­able, knowledgeable, and reach­able.”
  • “Work well with the staff. The staff is always willing to meet in person to discuss issues.”
  • “The smoothest permitting for any air district in California. Well done!”
  • “MDAQMD personnel have al­ways demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, knowledge, and in­terest in helping with issues regard­ing compliance.”

According to Eldon Heaston, MDAQMD Executive Director, “The survey’s results will help the District construct a road map for implementing improvements and to continue providing optimum servic­es to the regulated community in the near future.”

The MDAQMD is responsible for regulating stationary air pollution sources and implementing state and federal air quality rules and regu­lations within its 20,000 square mile jurisdiction, which is home to more than 550,000 residents. The MDAQMD has garnered a reputa­tion as one of the most responsive and business-friendly air districts in California.

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!

 

Air Quality General

MDAQMD’s Highest Honor Awarded to Companies

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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 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 MDAQMD employs a common-sense, inclusive approach to the development of its air quality management programs. The District’s mission is to attain and maintain a healthful environment while supporting strong and sustainable economic growth.

MDAQMD staff works in a pro-active manner with those impacted by regulatory mandates to find the most prudent and non-punitive course of action and to resolve conflicts to the maximum extent possible. As a result, local industry has more flexibility in meeting environmental mandates than their counterparts in neighboring air districts and even some nearby states.

One example of how the MDAQMD partners with local businesses to help them meet and exceed state and federal emission mandates is its annual presentation of the Exemplar Awards. The Exemplars recognize High Desert entities that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to clean air through the development of voluntary activities/projects that reduce or prevent air pollution within the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction.

In fall of 2014, a family-owned material recovery facility and the Victor Valley’s municipal wastewater treatment plant were recognized by the Governing Board of the MDAQMD, as the District presented its Exemplar Awards to Advance Disposal Company and the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority for implementing innovative, energy-saving projects which are revolutionizing the waste disposal process while significantly reducing air pollution emissions.

Advance Disposal was recognized for recently doubling the size of its Hesperia Material Recovery Facility and replacing higher-emitting loading and conveyor equipment with state-of-the art, fuel- efficient equipment, while working to meet the demands of the upcoming 75% state mandated landfill diversion rate set to commence in 2020. As a result, the newly retooled MRF is now able to process the same amount of material in half the time, with a 50% decrease in fuel emissions, since equipment such as loaders, excavators and skidsters previously required to transfer material during the additional processing time are no longer necessary. A tunnel system designed for trucks entering the MRF has helped further reduce fuel emissions and cut in half the time it takes to load landfill-bound idling transfer trucks by loading directly from the floor into the top of the haulers. Advance Disposal also recently added a CNG-fueled refuse truck to its fleet, along with a propane-operated forklift.

VVWRA was awarded the Exemplar for partnering with Anaergia Services LLC of Carlsbad to retrofit a decommissioned anaerobic digester for the purpose of tripling its sludge and waste co-digesting capacity, and using the resulting biogas as fuel to generate electricity and offset natural gas usage at its Victorville plant. As a result, two combined heat and power engines have been equipped with lean-burn technology and are now operating on digester biogas, supplemented by natural gas. The new engines have replaced two of four existing internal combustion engines, which have resulted in an overall reduction of the facility’s nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compound and greenhouse gas emissions. The two remaining combined heat and power engines will run on 100% biogas and be used for backup purposes only. VVWRA also modified its formerly high energy-use UV treatment system to run on a single channel, which has reduced emissions from this source by 60% and further decreased energy demand. The OmnivoreTM project – which was commissioned in January of 2014 – is a developing technology and is the first of its kind in North America. As a result of its introduction, VVWRA is currently producing 1.4 MW of electricity onsite and is expected to be 100% energy neutral by the start of 2015.

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!

Air Quality General

Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District-Not “Just Another Air District”

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By Christie Robinson
CRE Specialist
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!

Air Quality General

High Desert Air Quality Improves Significantly over Past 12 Years According to New Report

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By Violette Roberts
Community Relations & Education Manager
Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District

The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association has released its annual air quality report California’s Progress Toward Clean Air for all 35 local air districts in the state, docu­menting dramatic reductions in un­healthy levels of fine particulate pol­lution in every county reporting air quality data.

Fine particulate pollution – also known as PM2.5 – is associated with a wide range of health effects from increased hospitalizations to premature deaths. The report also shows a general trend of improving air quality for ground-level ozone – the primary component of smog – although some counties and their air district face unique challenges in reducing levels of that pollutant.

The report contains statistical infor­mation on ozone and PM2.5 air qual­ity for 2000 and 2012 for each coun­ty; statewide air quality trends and detailed descriptions of air pollution control programs at each air quality district.

The High Desert portion of San Bernar­dino County – which is under the regu­latory authority of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District – was one of only eleven county regions in the state where no exceedances of the federal 24-hour PM 2.5 standard (35 micrograms/cubic meter) occurred in either 2000 or 2012. PM2.5 is pri­marily formed in the atmosphere from gases, such as sulfur dioxides, nitro­gen oxides and volatile organic com­pounds, and is also directly emitted into the air from fuel combustion and as fugitive dust.

The report also highlights a 19% de­cline in exceedances of the federal 0.075 part per million ozone stan­dard which occurred throughout the MDAQMD’s 20,000 square mile ju­risdiction during the last twelve years. In 2000, 84 days were recorded dis­trict wide, while in 2012, only 68 days occurred. Meanwhile, “good” Air Quality Index days measured in the High Desert between 2000 and 2012 increased from 173 to 184, respective­ly. AQI levels are considered good when levels on the color-coded report­ing scale fall between 0 and 50, and air pollution poses little or no risk.

“Thanks to our collaborative partner­ships with the regulated community and local residents, High Desert air quality continues to improve and serve as a top reason for businesses to relo­cate to the region,” said Eldon Heaston, Executive Officer for the MDAQMD, adding that the MDAQMD’s business-friendly approach to regulation serves as another strong incentive for indus­tries to consider the High Desert.

California and its individual air dis­tricts have made remarkable progress in cleaning the air during the past three decades in spite of dramatic increases in population and driving. From 1980 to 2010, the state’s population in­creased by 65 percent and daily miles driven by all vehicles increased by 137 percent. But thanks to a compre­hensive air pollution control strategy, smog-forming pollutants were cut by 55 percent during the same period. California’s largest industrial plants also cut their greenhouse gas emis­sions by 17 percent between 2008 and 2011.

These improvements have occurred in spite of the fact that neither the state nor local air districts have the author­ity to regulate federally controlled sources of air pollution, including ships, locomotives, and aircraft.

For a copy of California’s Progress Toward Clean Air, or to learn more about the High Desert’s air quality, visit www.mdaqmd.ca.gov.

Air Quality General

Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District Offering Over $1.3 Million in Mobile Emission Reduction Grants

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By Violette Roberts
Community Relations & Education Manager

The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District is currently accepting proposals for projects that reduce smog forming-emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and equipment and other mobile sources operated within the District’s jurisdiction, which encompasses the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County and Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley.

Approximately $575,000 in AB2766 grant program funds are available to public or private entities for projects that reduce emissions from mobile sources, which account for more than 60% of air pollutant emissions gauged in the High Desert. Eligible projects include transit and parking management projects, demonstration projects in telecommuting, videoconferencing, and alternative fuel vehicles, electric/alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure development, and public education programs. The incremental cost of purchasing or leasing clean fuel/electric vehicles or repowering existing vehicles to operate on alternative fuel may also be eligible for funding in an amount not to exceed 25% of the total project cost.

In 2011, $138,000 in AB2766 grant funds was awarded to the City of Victorville for the La Mesa/Nisqually Interchange Traffic Signal Synchronization Project. In 2002, the City of Barstow received a $450,000 grant toward the construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas/Compressed Natural Gas station within city limits.

The AB2766 competitive grant programis funded through vehicle registrations fees, which the local regulatory air agency uses to support programs that reduce air pollution from motor vehicles, as required by law. Public and private entities are encouraged to submit proposals either as sole or joint applicants. Proposals will be accepted through December 3, 2012 at 5:00PM.

Approximately $775,000 is also available through the state-funded Carl Moyer Program, which provides grants for projects that reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and other mobile diesel equipment operated within the MDAQMD’s boundaries. Under the Moyer program, monies are disbursed to local entities via participating air districts to reimburse the partial cost of upgrading or replacing existing equipment with lower- emission technology. Small on-road fleets, small off-road compression ignited fleets, agricultural irrigation pumps and certain off-road large spark-ignited engines and locomotives are eligible for repower or retrofit through the program.

Applications for the Moyer program will be accepted continuously on a first-come, first-served basis until available funding is exhausted.

To download a Call for Projects packet for the AB2766 program or to find out more about Moyer grants, visit the MDAQMD website at www.mdaqmd.ca.gov. For additional information, call (760) 245-1661, ext. 1885

Air Quality General

MDAQMD Board Reaffirms Support of AB 32 Suspension

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By Violette Roberts, Community Relations & Education Manager

During its February 2012 meeting, the Governing Board of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District reaffirmed a resolution requesting a suspension or revision of AB 32 – the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – which it originally adopted and forwarded to then-Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010.

AB32 requires the California Air Resources Board to develop strict new regulations and market mechanisms to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, representing a 30% reduction statewide, with mandatory caps beginning in 2012 for significant emissions sources.

The resolution – which was brought to the local regulatory air agency’s Board by MDAQMD Board Member and City of Victorville Councilman Mike Rothschild – was accompanied by a letter from District Governing Board Chair and San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, which outlined the MDAQMD Board’s ongoing concerns with AB32’s continued implementation.

“To date, there continues to be a failure to consider potential regulatory conflicts between AB 32 provisions and federal and state mandates in the AB 32 implementation process,” said Mitzelfelt. “In addition, an analysis of the potential impacts of multiple requirements on the local economy and ultimately, on the environment, have been minimal, at best.” Rothschild added that while the MDAQMD Governing Board composition has changed since 2010, “the key factors which render AB 32 a threat to the High Desert’s economy have remained virtually unchanged.” These factors include an unemployment rate of just under 15%, a severe jobs/housing imbalance, substantial air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from over 50% of all area residents commuting at least 40 miles to work each way, and transported pollutants from the Los Angeles basin. Moreover, according to Rothschild, AB 32 threatens to engender indirect environmental consequences – such as longer, more polluting commutes – as a result of businesses and jobs leaving the area.

In addition to sending the adopted resolution and letter to Governor Brown, the documents were also forwarded to CARB, state legislators, and to directors of California’s 34 other air districts.

Air Quality General

Air District Offers Emission-Reduction Grants Up to $1,000,000 Available in the High Desert

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By Eldon Heaston
Executive Director, MDAQMD

The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District is now accepting proposals for projects that reduce smog forming emissions from motor vehicles and help improve air quality in the High Desert portion of San Bernardino County and in Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley.

Approximately $1,000,000 in grant monies is available to public or private entities for projects that reduce emissions from mobile sources, which account for more that 60% of air pollutant emissions gauged in the High Desert. Eligible projects include those that reduce vehicle trips or miles traveled, or encourage the use of alternative travel modes, such as public transit. Projects related to alternative fuel vehicles, parking management, telecommuting, and public education programs that do not duplicate the MDAQMD’s mobile source education efforts are additional examples of projects which may be eligible for funding. The incremental cost of purchasing or leasing clean fuel/ electric vehicles or repowering existing vehicles to operate on alternative fuel may also be eligible for funding in an amount not to exceed 25% of the total project cost.

The AB2766 grant program is funded through vehicle registration fees, which the local air agency uses to support programs that reduce air pollution from motor vehicles, as required by law. Past projects funded through the program include a Park and Ride lot in the City of Hesperia, LNG/CNG fueling station in the City of Barstow and two haul truck repowers for Hi Grade Materials of Hesperia.

Proposals will be competitively evaluated, and accepted through June 1, 2011 at 5:00PM. For more information on the competitive grant process, or to obtain a copy of the Call for projects, please call (760) 245-1661, ext. 1885, or visit the district’s website at www.mdaqmd.ca.gov

If you would like to receive the full edition of the Bradco High Desert Report, our quarterly newsletter, please click on the link: http://www.thebradcocompanies.com/register

Air Quality Politics

MDAQMD Urges Governor To Reconsider AB 32

Published by:

By Eldon Heaston
Executive Director, MDAQMD

The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District has always strived to lead by example and takes great pride in its role as a leader among local regulatory agencies. In 2003, the MDAQMD was the first public agency in the High Desert to install its own solar electric generating system to meet almost half of the energy needs of its Victorville headquarters. In 2006, the MDAQMD became the first air district in the state to join the Climate Action Reserve and voluntarily certify its own carbon emission reductions. On February 3, 2010, the MDAQMD became the first air district in the state to write a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and legislators, urging them to reconsider moving forward with regulations under AB32 until a careful review of the implementation impacts on California’s existing regulatory scheme and its struggling economy could be undertaken.

Although our governing board’s position on AB 32 has not exactly made us the darling of the state or other air districts, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received from local municipalities, businesses, and everyday citizens of the High Desert. These entities understand that the MDAQMD’s position is not based on the science of global warming – it’s based on the High Desert’s economic future and the possibility that our region may not survive the mounting regulatory gridlock which threatens to cripple our struggling economy and hinder our agency’s ability to adequately protect local air quality and the health of our residents.

While the MDAQMD believes the goals of many of the legislative and regulative enactments behind AB32 are laudable and necessary, we are also finding that in an area of unique economic and regulatory challenges – such as the High Desert – there are serious conflicts among existing and potential proposed regulatory programs.

To begin with, there is the unique issue of transported pollution which overwhelmingly impacts air quality readings measured within the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction. CARB studies have demonstrated that were it not for windblown pollution originating outside of the MDAQMD’s boundaries – primarily in the Los Angeles basin – our area would rarely, if ever, exceed state and federal ozone standards. Unfortunately, the Federal Clean Air Act does not consider the source of pollution, just where the exceedances of the standards happen to be measured. As a result, businesses in the MDAQMD are already subject to costly and stringent New Source Review requirements, which require them to obtain non-existent pollution offsets before they are allowed to locate or expand within our jurisdiction. This requirement – which is precipitated by out-of area smog over which the MDAQMD has no control – has historically forced many an industry to look elsewhere to site its business – often out of state – primarily because we have very few existing industries in the High Desert to provide such offsets through emission reductions.

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Having businesses and the jobs circumvent your region is never a good thing, particularly in an area such as the High Desert, where the average unemployment rate currently looms at 16.6%. The MDAQMD believes that any additional mandates which impose even more stringent requirements and higher fees on local industry will put us at a further competitive disadvantage with neighboring states, which are not regulating greenhouse gasses as stringently, if at all. For this reason, we also believe that the state should delay full implementation of AB32 and consider allowing GHG regulation to occur at the federal level, when the time is right, which insures uniformity between states as opposed to economic disparity and unfair competition. Basically, we support waiting until the playing field is leveled so that both the environment and the economy will benefit. In this vein, the MDAQMD also strongly supports NSR reform and a reopening of the Federal Clean Air Act to correct the plethora of existing problems with both permitting and PSD requirements.

The severe jobs/housing imbalance which exists within the MDAQMD represents a major economic and air quality challenge, in that this imbalance – and the inordinate commuter miles it requires – is also the major source of air emissions and GHGs within the MDAQMD. Surveys show that nearly 50% of High Desert residents commute at least 40 miles each way to work, with many more traveling over 100 miles one way daily. It is estimated that over 200,000 cars travel in and out of the MDAQMD’s jurisdiction each and every work day, often in heavy traffic. Thus, the MDAQMD cannot support any law which has the effect of discouraging business from establishing locally, forcing local residents to commute unnecessarily and consequently increasing air emissions in both our district and elsewhere. It is the MDAQMD’s belief that truly “green cities” will not be possible until we can site jobs in those cities.

In our letter to the Governor, the MDAQMD expressed concerns regarding the layers of conflicting land use mandates, CEQA and other regulatory air quality requirements and policy goals which may potentially come into direct conflict with current state laws and regulations, as well as proposed regulatory measures developed to implement AB32. These mandates include a proposed tightening of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and the USEPA’s recent “Endangerment Finding,” which states that “greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.” Even closer to home, recent proposals to amend California’s Desert Protection Act pose a threat to the area’s economic and air quality future by severely restricting construction of clean and essential energy generation facilities in the place where they make the most sense: the Mojave Desert, which ranks second only to the Sahara Desert in solar radiation. Clearly, this type of gridlock does not seem to make sense for the environment or the economy.

Over the past 30-plus year, California has made great strides in its efforts to reduce air pollution. Despite the impacts of transported smog, the High Desert’s air quality continues to improve, thanks in large part to emission reduction progress made in the South Coast Air Basin. Even as these improvements continue, conflicting and onerous regulatory requirements threaten to cripple economic growth.

In light of the current economic and regulatory situation, the MDAQMD believes that there will be a time and place for AB32 implementation, but we do not believe that now – during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression – is that time. We are troubled that if we do not proceed with caution at this delicate juncture and fail to clearly set forth our priorities and carefully examine potential conflicts between regulatory programs at both the state and federal Levels, we may make some apparent gains in one area while jeopardizing progress in another. What we are suggesting is not without precedent. The governor’s office and the legislature has waived CEQA and other requirements in order to site football stadiums, finding that there is something very dysfunctional about the California regulatory requirements for projects. We would hope that this region’s air quality and its economy are due the same deference.