Documenter: Eunice Choi

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The ‘Tune In Tune Up Program’ will continue to be implemented as it is a great resource for many disadvantaged communities. The District is also preparing to expand it to make it more accessible for more communities.

  • Many public commenters voiced concern on the Agricultural Burning situation. Many want the placement for long-term alternatives.

  • The District is preparing to educate the public on its new programs with public outreach and formal education.


Governing Board

  • Craig Pedersen, Chair 

    • Supervisor, Kings County 

  • Lloyd Pareira, Vice Chair 

    • Supervisor, Merced County 

  • Drew M. Bessinger 

    • Mayor, City of Clovis 

  • Vito Chiesa 

    • Supervisor, Stanislaus County 

  • David Couch 

    • Supervisor, Kern County 

  • Christina Fugazi 

    • Councilmember, City of Stockton

  • Deborah Lewis 

    • Mayor Pro Tem, City of Los Baños 

  • Buddy Mendes 

    • Supervisor, Fresno County 

  • Tania Pacheco-Werner, PhD

    • Appointed by Governor

  • Albaro Preciado

    • Mayor, City of Avenal

  • Monte Reyes   

    • Mayor, City of Porterville

  • Robert Rickman

    • Supervisor, San Joaquin County

  • Alexander C. Sheriffs, M.D.

    • Appointed by Governor

  • Amy Shuklian

    • Supervisor, Tulare County

  • Tom Wheeler

    • Supervisor, Madera County

  • Samir Sheik

    • Executive Director & Air Pollution Control Officer

The Scene

The meeting started at 9:00 AM.

One of the administrators took a roll call. Afterwards, all attendees said the pledge of allegiance and started a closed session.

Number of attendees (not including officials) was unable to be determined, as the meeting was held in virtual and in-person; it was held to the public with a Zoom Webinar style.

Before the meeting, there was small talk about the hot weather in Fresno. 

~10 supervisors were in the office in person.

David Couch, Robert Rickman, and Deborah Lewis had their videos off.

Mayor Preciado joined at 10:47 AM.

There was a short recess from 1:13 to 1:37 PM.

Closed Session

There was no public comment before going to the closed session.

In the closed session, according to the agenda, there was a conference with labor negotiator Chenecua Dixon. Furthermore, a conference with district representative Samir Sheik regarding management and confidential employee compensation was also held at this time. 

I did not get any other note otherwise.

Closed session started at 9:07 and ended at 9:28, lasting a total of 21 minutes.

Approval of Consent Calendar- Item Numbers (20-28)

According to the agenda, these items are routine in nature and are usually approved by a single vote. Prior to action by the Board, the public will be given the opportunity to comment on any consent item.

No public comment.

Public Comment

According to the agenda, this time is made available for comments from the public on matters within the Board’s jurisdiction that are not on the Agenda.

  • Janet Dietzka said that she was concerned about “rising temperatures and how the weather technology is having gaps in information.” Her point is that “we are having dryer air, hotter air, hotter temperatures.” Each year, our summer is hotter than the last and this year is following that pattern. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had pipelines taking that excess water from the east coast that is flooding people out and taking it to the west coast? Something to be considered is that our weather is no longer what someone could classify as normal.”

    • Sheik explains that “for clarification, our air monitoring site is up and running appropriately for any members of the public that may be concerned. There are no major data gap issues. From time to time, there may be some slight maintenance. 

  • Connie Young, a retired registered nurse and a volunteer at Citizens Climate Lobby, agrees with Janet D. She explains that the Board is paying no attention to carbon gas emissions and industry carbon. She recommends that “the Board should put an economy-wide price on carbon. If we don’t have a national price on carbon by 2023, our businesses will be subject to a carbon tariff that the EU plans on levying on imports from countries that don’t have a carbon price. Because of science, for our businesses, and for the sake of our quality and health, we need a national price on carbon pollution.”

    • Sheik explains that we have been experiencing some relatively low PM levels. Some of the temperatures may be challenged, though, in the upcoming weeks. He did not respond much to Young’s carbon price suggestion.

Adopt the District’s 2021-22 Recommended Budget

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: Approve and authorize Chair to sign Attached Resolution establishing the District’s 2021-22 Budget.

  • Sheik introduces that this budget was “met with much guidance and overview in multiple meetings and a public hearing with public comments.”

  • Approval of the attached Budget Resolution will establish the District’s 2021-22 Adopted Budget at $583,894,140.

  • Supervisor Pederson explained that the budget committee “worked really hard” and came up with a “thoughtful budget in an aggressive way.”

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner “is looking particularly forward to the increases to the public education budget. This will develop our long-term capacity for our region for economic and public health resilience and climate adaptation.” She thanks the budget committee for their work.

  • No public comment.

Report on District Citizens Advisory Committee Activities

Here is more information

  • Kevin Abernarthy, chairperson of CAC, shares a brief report from his car (with his dog in the background).

  • Abernathy notes that he did not have a form because there was no success even after the addition of “a new city individual”, so no voting was able to be done. But he wants to bring up the fact that the staff recommendation on the Agricultural Burning Rule. The CAC did get a consensus on supporting the full efforts of the Ag Burning Rule. 

Approve the Continued Implementation of the Tune in Tune Up Vehicle Repair Program

Here is more information

  • Recommendations: 

    • Authorize the Board Chair, with Executive Director/APCO recommendation, to execute an agreement with Valley Clean Air Now for the implementation of the District’s Tune In Tune Up vehicle repair program for the $7,000,000 allocated for this program in the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

    • Authorize the Executive Director/APCO to make administrative changes to the program as necessary to ensure successful program implementation.

  • Here is the presentation that contains the following.

    • Valley needs “mobile source reductions.”

  • Mobile source emissions account for over 80% of Valley NOx inventory.

  • Focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities.

  • Tune-in tune up vehicle repair program will provide residents with options for reducing emissions from their vehicles through financial assistance for smog-related repairs.

  • Vehicle repair program: responding to covid-19.

    • District and Valley CAN worked collaboratively to develop a new program model to continue the vehicle repair program.

  • Next steps: 

    • Resume weekend events with social distancing.

    • Continue direct participation model from July to December.

  • Supervisor Wheeler asked, “what is the state and local government doing to reduce the mobile source emissions? It is surprising that this level is “still at 85%. It is almost ridiculous. How can we beat that?”

    • Sheik intervened and answered that we are working on that but the issue is that we don’t have many years to help us with the Clean Air Act Mandate. We do try to work hard on the local level, but we will need mobile source reductions on federal standards.

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner added that mobile source reductions should “be more aggressive while taking note of the limitations in the Valley and the rural area as well.” 

  • Supervisor Wheeler noted that Congress needs to take on a universal role in decreasing these numbers as well. He continues on the notion that he loves this program.

  • Councilmember Bessinger said that this program will greatly “help people with stressful things in their life. This helps people get their cars fixed so that they can get to work, which also helps the economy. It removes and fixes highly polluting vehicles.” This is his favorite program.

  • Dr. Sheriffs stated that he has “concerns over long term funding.” We need to be more supportive of state and federal efforts as well as the cleaner fuels, cleaner cars, & better mileage standards. That’s how the issue is  going to be addressed. “Where does that seven million (dollars) come from? I know some of that comes from Electrify America.”

    • Sheik answers by explaining that “the funding for the program is the DMV, the fees that we collect here in the Valley. The $7 million recommended is a strategically created amount. We have also collaborated with Valley Clean Air Now (CAN). Repair is an option, replacement is an option as well. It is possible that we will be receiving very significant funding not too long from now. We can change the amount as needed depending on the demand.

  • Councilmember Fugazi agreed with Mr. Wheeler in terms of the numbers. She enjoys the program. She explains how 1500 cars were towed in Stockton and ⅔ of them were unregistered because disadvantaged people cannot afford the smog checks. This helps a lot of financially burdened people as well. We should keep putting out this program as there are many people who don’t know about its existence too.

  • Councilmember Bessinger recommends that police officers start telling those who are having trouble with smog and smoke in their cars that this program exists to avoid a ticket or take care of a vehicle more responsibly.

  • Fugazi adds that there are/should be more ways to get more local shops to participate in this program, as there are a lot of people who are patiently waiting.

  • Public comments

    • Manuel Cunha notes that he hears that this program helped a woman with two kids and helped her save $540 to tend to her children. However, “we need a small independent truck program.” There are more and more truck drivers who cannot drive because of expensive repairs. There are many people who are on the verge of “losing their trucks” in the next year. 

      • Sheik’s response is that there is a state-funded pilot program that strives to complete emission-related repairs in partnership with truck repair facilities called the Inspection and Maintenance Program. Nonetheless, we will certainly keep an eye out for reducing emissions for truck-related items.

    • Tom Knox, from Valley CAN, notes that he wants to make 2 points on where the success of this program comes from.

      • a). This couldn’t happen without the Valley Air District and the Board. That strong long-term support and management is incredibly supportive and efficient.

      • b). The customers also drive these numbers and success. It helps families feed themselves and helps people go to work. The smog check really helps people. It is the primary reason why the numbers are so strong, which is why it is so cost-effective. He thanked staff for all the strong support and looked forward to another great year.

    • Connie Young gives a suggestion. “If fossil fuels become more expensive due to an economy-wide, steadily rising price on carbon pollution with the revenue rebated to US households to help them cope with rising costs, it would incentivize and accelerate our state’s transition to electric vehicles, thereby decreasing the number of polluting vehicles on the road. This makes the expenditure of the Tune In Tune Up program less and less necessary.”

Review and Provide Comment on the Draft “2021-22 Annual Report to the Community”

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: Review the 2020-21 Annual Report to the Community and provide suggestions.

  • Samir Sheik shared a draft version of the Annual Report to the Community and quickly skimmed through it.

    • It will be available online as well as a hard copy in two languages.

    • It will be sharpened up by the time it is actually published.

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner asked a question on page 25 of the report. “The graphic is not that clear on what ‘the diminishing smoke’ means?”

    • She misinterpreted the graph and Sheikh said that they might make the graphic more clear to understand.

  • Dr. Pachco-Werner said that the report did not tell much about the public impact. “We want to continue to drive the message home about what ozone does to life expectancy. We need to quantify it a little bit more.”

  • Supervisor Amy Shuklian explained that it was an “easy-read” and a “great source of information.”

  • Dr. Sheriffs said that it is a “great balance to overview and detail.” It introduced the “past successes and challenges as well.” “Aspiration-wise, there is one thing missing: the place of climate change in our work.” We should “add climate change to the challenges ahead.” “During next year, I hope we can have a productive discussion and engagement on greenhouse gases, air quality, climate funding, and climate change.”

  • Public comment:

    • Janet Dietza asked if she could pick this report up as a hard copy to look at. She agrees with Dr. Sheriff in saying that climate change needs to be addressed.

      • Supervisor Wheeler says that he does not agree that this draft is ready for the public to look at right now because it has not been approved right now. 

      • Sheikh says that the draft is available in the agenda, but the official one will be available soon after revision.

    • Connie Young explained that the report is “attractive, informational, and well-done.” She agrees with Dr. Sheriff in saying that we need to take a step toward climate change. She looks forward to the day that the district acknowledges the impacts on global climate change explicitly in the annual report. 

Verbal Update on the 2021-22 State Budget

  • Tom Jordan, District Senior Policy Advisor, explains that one can’t really talk about this year’s budget without talking about last year’s budget. “One of the main sources that we rely on for a lot of our center programs is the GreenHouse Gas Reduction Fund.” Last year because of COVID-19, there was a lot of uncertainty regarding generating zero revenue. So the state decided to appropriate those GreenHouse Gas Reduction Funds for discretionary spending. So this summer, the team was engaged in making sure that we met our budget proposal and programs are continuing to be funded. We saw a lot of dividends done to the budget, back in January, when the governor proposed his budget. A lot of programs received a fair amount of funding, given what was supposed to be a “last year budget year.” Because a lot of programs were to be funded in the budget, revenues coming higher than projected, and federal funds/stimulus-type funds, the budget last year was one of California’s highest budget years in the state’s history.

  • The governor came out with a reposal in the May Revise, where a lot of the programs did quite well. The Farmer Program to replace agricultural equipment back in January, the governor proposed $170 million. This year, he proposed $213 million and $360 million over a 2-year period. That was much closer to what the program needed so that was a good sign.

  • Also, in AB 617, both of the funding in the district’s activities to implement that program and the incentive funds were programmed at previous year’s levels. As far as the incentives they were programmed at $265 million, which was a $20 million increase over the previous budget amount. So that was a good sign. 

  • There was also $2 billion dollars for eclectic vehicle type products or clean transportation. The Equity Program which includes the Clean Cars for All Program has a budget of $150 million. A significant portion will go to Clean Cars For All. That is good news as well.

  • Jordan noted that he missed one significant thing: “Between the governor’s proposal in January and the May Revise was one we went to ARB to talk about the Ag Burning. The general consensus on the only way that could happen in the timeline is if it was being looked at by carbon and other significant resources from the state to help with that happening. The governor proposed $150 million in the budget to fund projects related to the bays of Agricultural Burning.”

  • “The Senate went through a process and came up with their own plan and a number of our programs in the Senate’s early plan were highlighted. For the Ag Burning piece, they proposed $180 million over a three-year period. However, what ended up happening was that the assembly in particular did not come up with a plan because they felt that the May Revise was such a drastic change from what was proposed in January. But there is a requirement that the legislature adopt a budget by June 15, or they don’t get paid. What happened was that the Senate at the assembly adopted a budget at the high line level; the governor is going to respond to that by July 1. There is a continuing negotiation about funding programs that we are still interested in.”

  • Sheikh adds on to say that the governsors may revise the budget in the future depending on legislational level and below.

  • Councilmember Bessinger sent a letter to the governor about Agricultural Burning and asked him to use his influence to work with carbon and give the farmers a break on the extension. He continues by saying how we are all doing public service work and budget work. “When did we start a budget where we name the number but we don’t name the details?”

Approve Supplemental Report and Recommendations on Agricultural Burning

Here is more information

  • Recommendations: 

    • Approve Supplemental Report and Recommendations on Agricultural Burning (Supplement), in response to the California Air Resources Board’s February 2021 action on the District’s adopted 2020 Staff Report and Recommendations on Agricultural Burning; and direct the Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) to submit the Supplement and associated supporting information to CARB for their concurrence, and to CARB and U.S. EPA for inclusion in the State Implementation Plan, as required under Rule 4103 and California Health and Safety Code Sections 41855.5 and 41855.6. 

    • Authorize the Board Chair, with Executive Director/APCO recommendation, to execute agreements to fund early demonstration pilot projects for alternatives to agricultural burning, per proposed approval criteria, in an amount up to $500,000.

    • Given the time-sensitivity and importance of new state funding to successfully implement the proposed Supplement and recommendations, direct the Executive Director/APCO to expeditiously return to your Board for the appropriation of new state funds upon approval of said funds by the Legislature and Governor in the state’s 2021-22 budget; and to develop recommendations for enhancements to the Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program and associated staffing and other resources, as necessary for effective implementation. In the event that new state funding for alternatives to open burning is not approved in the state’s 2021-22 budget, the Executive Director/APCO will return to your Board with updated recommendations as appropriate. 

    • Authorize the Chair to sign the attached Resolution.

  • Sheik went through the Presentation by taking his time.

  • Councilmember Bessinger has a question on the clean biomass concept: “Is there actually some technology there? What is a non-combustible biomass energy scenario?”

    • Sheikh answers his question. “There are archetypes of projects of interest about this. They range from gasification to synthetic gas. All of them come up with a combustible gas form in some fashion. He listed some technology and other alternatives. 

    • Alternatives might include composting.

  • Councilmember Bessinger explains that he is concerned about the environmentalist strategy that says that it can make clean energy but does not tell people on how to get there, which would only place burden and fines on civilians and farmers.

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner explains that the alternatives are very “timely and important.” She has been an ongoing advocate in making sure that this plan is very feasible. She appreciates the willingness of the farmers to help solve this environmental problem. She hopes that she can have more updates on this in the upcoming year. “Is there a plan for increasing funding for enforcement to do this work as well?”

    • Sheik explains that “first, we will do a touch-base in December to see how things are going. Hopefully, by that time we will have funds available for that use. We do think we can make info available in the summertime for the public to know more about this matter in terms of open burning. On the enforcement side of things, we do allocate quite a bit of resources to the authorized burning section and the proactive surveillance and inspections. We will probably need to add some more resources later.”

  • Supervisor Rickman has a question: “According to the report there will be support for the development of alternatives, will funding be available for this project or a possible pilot program?”

    • Sheik answers that the funding on the state budget is directed at the costs of the plan or alternatives and the expanding of the equipment that actually performs the work. There is no state funding yet. There will be federal grants that could address the capital issues. 

  • Supervisor Rickman: “What about looking at the economical development funds from the state that could fund this program in alternatives because this program would create jobs?”

    • Sheikh explains that those funds align with state goals and other mechanisms. The board’s action today is to work collaboratively in this bioenergy project discussion. 

  • Supervisor Pederson: “Is there still room to deal with tumbleweeds during drought?”

    • Sheikh notes that there will be provisions to allow for exceptions similar to these.

  • Public Comments:

    • Elaine Trevino, president of Almond Alliance: “How do we do this with no additional resources? This is not feasible. Farmers are trying to figure out chipping and shredding services that are already stretched with no time in their schedule and equipment. I want to support the work of the district. We need increased funds to end AgBurn.”

    • Cynthia Pinto-Clalara: “Prioritize smaller, independent, and low-income farmers that have less capacity to utilize incentive programs. We need to provide more help to disadvantaged farmers to end agricultural burning.”

    • Steven Jimenez: “I urge the board to use more sustainable agricultural solutions as many disadvantaged communities are suffering from respiratory effects of the low air qualities in the San Joaquin Valley. I urge the board to use air monitors and filters so that many people have clean air in their homes. I urge the board to prioritize the health of the people first.”

    • Shayda Azamian: She thanks the District for their work and indicates that the report does not address health protective measures. She asks for more transparency with this report. 

    • Roger ISOM: He explains that we need the alternatives and the funding for this program. The alternatives need to include long-term solutions.

    • Janet Dietza: “How can one prevent black carbon and greenhouse gas from being released in the atmosphere?” There are technologies but there is nothing that actively prevents greenhouse gases and carbon from being released into the air.

    • Mark Rose: He wants to express his concern on the supplementary report with the overly broad definition of small farmers.

    • Gustavo Aguirre: “It’s very clear that wildfires are one of the most detrimental effects on people today. Notification systems are very necessary and overdue. I am requesting that the board is looking at this plan.”

    • Jesus Alonso from Clean Water Engine: “This plan of combustion is not feasible because it places the burden on low income communities and does not really get rid of pollution. We should work with schools and communities to use notification systems and apps to help people avoid pollution. Smaller farmers have a smaller advantage when it comes to getting the resources.”

    • Manuel Cunha: “None of you talked about the forced fires or the creek fires, campfires that burn people and homes. I am tired of people who do not even know what agriculture is. The funding and incentive funding is heavily crucial. We are going to do pilot programs and we will accomplish what we need to do by 2025. I encourage the board to move forward on this. We need to move forward please.”

  • Dr. Sheriffs: “Moving forward with this does not mean we are not going to think about other issues like farm size. On the notification issue, our point is that we want to go forward with this plan so that we don’t have to use notifications anymore in terms of pollution matters.”

  • Mayor Deborah Lewis: “We need to work together. Right now, I see an issue of the environmentalists vs. the farmers. I support the program and the farmers.”

Update on 2021 Wildfire Season

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: Receive an update on the upcoming 2021 wildfire season, potential impacts on the Valley’s air quality and outreach strategy to protect public health.

  • Here is the presentation.

  • Supervisor Pederson elaborates on “4.5 million acres burned in CA last year.” He wants to get the public on board in mitigating this issue. 

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner explains that “we need to explain the nuances of using certain air filters because they could contribute to increased ozone levels.” Furthermore, she wonders how we could leverage some of the facilities at cooling centers and schools to create safer air and as refuges. 

  • Mayor Reyes elaborated more on outreach at schools. “We need to educate the athletic directors because they often deal with these matters at schools and they can tell students about the conditions of the air in the near future.”

  • Public Comments

    • Janet Dietzka: “I have seen people out during this hazardous air. We need to educate more people on the importance of clean air and safety. It is important for people who cannot protect themselves. We need to find a way to protect those who cannot close their windows during the hot summers. I appreciate all you do.”

Update on EPA Review Status for 2018 PM2.5 Plan

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: Receive an update on the status of EPA’s review of the District’s 2018 Plan for the 1997, 2006, and 2012 PM2.5 Standards.

  • The presentation includes the following:

    • 2018 PM2.3 Plan: Update on CARB Regulatory Measures

    • Status of EPA Review of 2018 PM 2.5 Plan

    • Status of 1997 24 hr PM2.5 standard 

    • Status of 1997 annual PM2.5 standard

    • Status of 2012 annual PM2.5 standard

  • Public Comment:

    • Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera: “The largest sources of pollution must be held accountable. They take a serious toll on people’s health. Today we need to continue to increase transparency and reinforcement and accountability of these rules.”

    • Janet Dietzka: “I want to thank the board for the work that is helping the air.”

Approve Contract for Advertising and Marketing Agency Representation for Comprehensive Multilingual Public Education and Outreach

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: Approve and authorize the Board Chair, with Executive Officer/APCO recommendation, to execute the contract between the District and Archer and Hound Advertising to implement comprehensive multilingual public education and outreach for key District programs and initiatives.

  • Presentation was given that include the following:

    • Public Education and Outreach Strategy

    • Request for Proposal

      • Goals include sound science, best industry practices, expert consulting services through key staff, and ongoing analytical review of campaign reach and community feedback.

    • RFP Process

    • Finalists Interviews

    • Agency Selection

    • Scope of Work

    • Fiscal Details

  • Public Comments

    • Janet Dietzka: “This is exceedingly important and a step in the right direction.”

  • Mayor Lewis: “When will we start the process of working with the air quality team and workers?”

    • One of the presenters said: “They are already working with us, but it is a transition.”

  • Mayor Lewis: “There are generations who do not spend much time online. Will we be sending out information regarding this through all kinds of mediums?”

    • One of the presenters answered: “100%.”

Authorize Use of Service Providers as Necessary to Support AB 617 Community Engagement

Here is more information

  • Recommendation: To assist in ensuring an inclusive, balanced, and effective public engagement process under AB 617, authorize the Board Chair, with Executive Director/APCO recommendation, to enter into agreements with expert service providers in a total amount not to exceed $500,000.

  • Jessica Olsen presented a presentation that include the following:

    • AB 617 Public Engagement to Date

    • Ensuring a Successful and Inclusive Process

Verbal Report on California Air Resources Board (CARB) Activities

Here is more information

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner: “We have considered the Clean Miles Standard, which would provide Uber drivers of that sort to access more environmentally friendly vehicles. We have worked on Appointment of New Members to the Assembly Bill 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee as well as the Assembly Bill 617 Community Air Protection Program – Community Emissions Reduction Program for Southeast Los Angeles Community.”

Executive Director/APCO Comments

  • No comments.

Governing Board Member Comments

  • Supervisor Wheeler shares a story of how he had to change his AC filter and it was completely black from the recent environmental fires. His cough went for a couple days. 

  • Mayor Reyes commented on how everyone is doing everything they can to prepare. He wants to commend the Tulare River Tribe and Tulare County for working with the USDA to secure funding for the wildland and help with the fires.

  • Supervisor Pederson thanked staff for the presentations. He mentions how the meeting has gone beyond time and he thanks them again.

  • Mayor Lewis asked when the retreat would be. The answer would be September 15th-16th and the board will be sending more information in the future. 

The meeting adjourned at 2:23 PM and the meeting lasted a total of 5 hours and 23 minutes.

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