The SCAQMD (South Coast Air Quality Management District) has published its draft 2016 AQMP (Air Quality Management Plan), which, when finalized, will be the fifth such plan developed by SCAQMD since 1997. The AQMP is a regional blueprint for achieving compliance with US EPA NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) and healthful air. The 2016 AQMP takes a new approach to air pollution reduction strategies with a focus on incentives to encourage the reduction of air pollution, while seeking to achieve multiple goals in partnership with other entities promoting reductions in greenhouse gases and toxic risk, as well as efficiencies in energy use, transportation, and goods movement.
The main focus of the 2016 AQMP is reducing NOx emissions. A wide variety of stationary and mobile sources emit large quantities of NOx (nitrogen oxides), which contributes to the formation of ozone and smog. Its ubiquitous and harmful nature make it a formidable barrier to remediating air quality in the South Coast Air Basin (see figure 1 and Alta Environmental Newsletter, May 2016). Reduction goals also address SOx (sulfur oxides), VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns); aimed at achieving the 2008 8-hour zone standard, 2012 annual PM2.5 standard, and 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard all within 15 years or less. SCAQMD has outlined several objectives to strategically compliment the main goals of the 2016 AQMP and help keep the plan on track. The main objectives include: specifying feasible technologic pathways to reduction attainment, further implementing zero emission and near zero emission technologies, ensuring that a fair-share reduction strategy is integrated across federal, state, and local levels, and designing strategies to maximize multi-pollutant co-benefits. The proposed control strategy, supported by firm goals and objectives, combines regulatory and incentive measures forming a dynamic approach to air quality management through emission reductions.
Most of the control strategy elements of the 2016 AQMP focus on cost-effective NOx reductions that also reduce PM2.5 emissions. The mobile source component of the AQMP involves strategies for increasing vehicle retrofits and replacements, voluntary retirement programs, and the introduction of cleaner fuel in the short-term. The programs will specifically target off-road equipment, which contributes heavily to NOx and VOC emissions in the air basin. Although these programs rely heavily on incentive funding, their feasibility makes them an efficient and cost-effective solution for immediate emissions reduction. The long-term mobile source control strategy focuses on increasing the penetration and deployment of zero emission vehicles and clean fuels. With barriers in funding, technology, and infrastructure, the long-term mobile source strategies will be more difficult to implement. The combined mobile source control strategy that addresses both short-term and long-term goals can support the funding of “black box” technologies (technologies that have yet to be developed) while delivering emissions reductions in easily implementable incentive programs. This two-fold approach will ensure that the mobile source sector continues to pull its weight in meeting fair-share reduction goals.
With regard to stationary sources, the 2016 AQMP focuses on strategies for modernizing industrial facilities, which will ultimately reduce NOx emissions by 30%. The draft AQMP proposes multiple programs to incentivize the replacement of old industrial equipment with new, clean technology. The stationary source control measures target industrial operations such as flaring and blasting as well as commercial cooking operations that involve the use of large burners and charbroilers. In addition to incentive programs, the SCAQMD and CARB are tightening emission standards to further enforce regulated reductions. In the 2016 AQMP, ambitious emission reduction goals are supported by a multi-faceted control strategy that spans across multiple enforcement measures, sectors, timelines, and industries to ensure attainment.
Alta helps business and communities with both policy and compliance issues across multiple media and regulatory agencies. If you need help, would like strategies to ensure bottom-line focused solutions for your business, call us at 888-608-3010.
Authors: Kathryn Georgi, Intern and student at Notre Dame University and David Park, Director of Air Policy. For more information call us at 888-608-3010