Plans Are in the Air

At roughly three-year intervals, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) adopts a regional Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) to address public health standards for ozone and particulate matter, The AQMP coordinates the efforts of many agencies, including the CA Air Resources Board (CARB) and the US EPA. With the 2016 AQMP, the SCAQMD is considering drastic reductions in allowable levels of ozone. The goal is to achieve a 50% reduction in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions by 2023 and additional reduction of 15% beyond 2023 levels by 2031.

The SCAQMD will attempt to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for 8-Hour Ozone (75 parts per billion) by 2032, and for Particulate Matter (PM2.5) (12 micrograms per cubic meter) by 2021-2025. The 8-hour Ozone NAAQS is based on the number of days per year with a 8-hour average concentration of 75 ppb or greater. The NAAQS for PM2.5 defines the maximum amount of airborne particles up to 2.5 microns in size that can be present in outdoor air without threatening the public’s health. Most significantly, the AQMP will be considering an even stricter proposed federal 8-Hour Ozone Standard in the 65-70 parts per billion range, which would mandate much higher emission reductions than in the past.

In order to achieve such reductions, the plan introduces the following policy objectives:

- eliminate reliance on currently unknown “black box” future technologies by providing pathways to attain reduction with existing specific control measures

- calculate co-benefits from other planning efforts

- develop strategy with fair-share emission reductions at all levels of regulation, such as federal engine emission standards and state mobile source standards

- seek funding to incentivize early deployment of non-polluting technologies

- enhance socioeconomic analysis to select the most efficient cost-effective paths to meet pollutant reduction targets

- prioritize non-regulatory and innovative approaches for emissions reductions.

There will be extensive public input into the 2016 AQMP. The AQMP Advisory Group, consisting of business, academic and government groups, will be conducting open meetings through the first part of 2016. Public comments are welcome, and public workshops, hearings and outreach will be scheduled in the near future. The Plan is due to be considered by the SCAQMD Board in April 2016, and if approved, will be submitted to the US EPA for approval in July 2016.

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