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CARB Approves SCAQMD Air Quality Plan and Updated State Implementation Plan

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A chart from the AQMP: Basin Total NOx Emissions (2012-2031)

April 10, 2017

CARB has approved two critical plans that establish the “next generation” of emission controls needed to improve California’s air quality: the South Coast AQMD’s 2016 Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) and the updated 2016 State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan (SIP), which describes CARB’s plans to further reduce vehicle emissions over the next 15 years.

CARB’s approval “sets the stage for a range of actions into the next decade,” said board chair Mary D. Nichols in the agency’s press release. “We look forward to continuing California’s air quality leadership, working with our federal and local partners to provide the pathway to cleaner air, along with a vibrant economy.”

The plans, approved at the March 23 meeting, will be instrumental in getting older, dirtier vehicles off the roads.

AQMP Maps Actions for Meeting Federal Ozone, PM Standards

The final AQMP—the District’s comprehensive roadmap for meeting ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standards in the South Coast region and the Coachella Valley—contains stationary and mobile source strategies to meet federal air quality attainment standards. In addition to measures that will transition buildings to cleaner energy and reduce industrial emissions, the AQMP calls for identifying and securing significant funding for incentives to implement early deployment and commercialization of zero and near-zero NOx emissions engine technologies, including applications for transit buses, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and off-road vehicles.

“This is a strong plan, and it’s essential for getting dirty diesel trucks and buses off the roads in the communities that need clean air now,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson.

Total NOx emissions in the South Coast Basin must be reduced to 141 tons per day (tpd) by 2023 and 96 tpd by 2031 to attain the 8-hour ozone standards. According to the plan, these levels will represent an additional 45 percent NOx reduction in 2023 and an additional reduction of 55 percent after 2031. Because NOx emissions create particulate matter, these reductions are expected to help attain PM2.5 standards.

According to CARB’s press release, “Attaining federal air quality standards will provide significant public health protection for the [region’s] 17 million residents, estimated by the district to total $173 billion in cumulative health benefits between today and 2031.”

2016 SIP Supports Clean Transportation Deployment

The 2016 SIP maps out actions for deploying the next generation of clean vehicles, equipment, and fuels. The plan includes strategies for California to establish low-NOx engine standards and certification requirements for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2023. It also includes programs to fund engine-configuration and aftertreatment technologies that enable diesel and natural gas heavy-duty trucks to meet the proposed low-NOx standard of 0.02 gram per brake horsepower-hour. Starting in 2018, new natural gas buses should meet the optional heavy-duty low-NOx standard, which would provide a 90 percent overall NOx-emission reduction from current engine technologies. The SIP also calls for innovative funding programs to incentivize the purchase of near-zero- and zero-emission heavy-duty trucks.

The final plan includes four amendments to the draft proposal. One requires the submission of an annual report that tracks certain elements of the SIP, including the funding secured to incentivize the adoption of cleaner technologies. The others are aimed at cleaning up the ports and include directing CARB staff to consider “concepts” for an indirect source rule (ISR) to control pollution from large-freight facilities, including ports, over the next 12 months.

These plans may be affected by a provision in the new transportation infrastructure bill (SB 1), which allows diesel trucks to be on the road for a minimum of 13 years but not to exceed 800,000 miles or 18 years, whichever comes first. Click here for our story.

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Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission

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