Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SoCal Air Regulators Propose Minimum Standards for Port Pollution Reductions

Regulators from the South Coast Air Quality Management District have proposed "backstop" rules that would provide enforcement of ambitious environmental goals and deadlines set down by the Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in their omnibus Clean Air Action Plan.

The ports jointly developed and adopted the CAAP, a collection of new and old environmental plans targeting air, water, and land pollution sources, in 2006.

The five-year CAAP proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in investments by the ports, the local air district, the state, and port-related industry to cut particulate matter pollution from all port-related sources by at least 47 percent by 2012. The plan also called for a reduction in smog forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by more than 45 percent, and a reduction in sulfur oxides (SOx) by at least 52 percent.

The backstop rules would set minimum clean air standards and deadlines for attainment that the ports have to meet, such as a target date for particulate matter reductions by 2014 and an ozone deadline by 2023.

While the full backstop rules are not set to be determined until the end of the year following a public input process starting next month, most of the final SCAQMD attainment goals are likely to either match the ports' goals or be later than those set under the CAAP. This is because when the ports wrote the CAAP, many of the goals were set ahead of potential air regulations being discussed by state and local government regulators. In most cases this means that the ports' attainments, if successful, will be well ahead of any dates currently contemplated by SCAQMD and the California Air Resources Board.