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Here’s what you need to know:
The Governing Board approved an incentive program to provide funding for the development of urban greening and vegetative barriers consistent with District Board and California Air Resources Board (CARB)-approved Community Emissions Reduction Programs (CERPs) for Shafter and South Central Fresno AB 617 communities and future AB 617 communities.
The Governing Board accepted $178.2 million in State funding for utilization in the District’s Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program.
The governing board adopted the proposed Attainment Plan Revision for the 1997 Annual PM2.5 Standard.
According to its website, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District comprises eight counties in California’s Central Valley: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin portion of Kern.
The Valley Air District includes a fifteen-member Governing Board consisting of representatives from the Board of Supervisors of all eight counties, one Health and Science member appointed by the Governor, one Physician appointed by the Governor, and five Valley city representatives.
The district held a meeting through Zoom on Thursday, August 19, 2021, at 9 am.
Chair and Supervisor at Kings County Craig Pedersen
Vice-Chair and Supervisor at Merced County Lloyd Pareira
City of Clovis Mayor Drew M. Bessinger
Supervisor at Stanislaus County Vito Chiesa
Supervisor at Kern County David Couch
Councilmember at City of Stockton Christina Fugazi
Supervisor at Fresno County Buddy Mendes
Tania Pacheco-Werner, Ph.D. Appointed by Governor
Mayor Pro Tem at City of Avenal Alvaro Preciado
Vice Mayor at City of Porterville Monte Reyes
Robert Rickman Supervisor, San Joaquin County
Alexander C. Sherriffs, M.D. Appointed by Governor
Supervisor at Tulare County Amy Shuklian
Supervisor at Madera County Tom Wheeler
Councilmember at City of Los Banos Deborah Lewis
Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh
Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung
Project Coordinator Jonathan Klassen
A Caller from the Northern Region
Policy Assistant at Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Cynthia Pinto Cabrera
Youth Coordinator of Central California Environmental Justice Network Jasmine Buenrostro
CEO of Tree Fresno Mona Cummings
City of Fresno Project Manager Andreina Aguilar
Shafter resident Christine Zimmerman
Fresno resident Elena Cotton
John Ara Yergat of JFS Enterprises
Policy Coordinator at Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability Julia Jordan
Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) President Roger A. Isom
President of the Almond Alliance of California (AAC) Elaine Travino
Environmental Affairs Officer at J. G. Boswell Company Dennis Tristao
Douglas Shaffer of California Resources Corporation
Mark Rose of National Parks Conservation Association
On public comment, Janet DietzKamei said, “Climate change is real,” and urged the shift to clean energy to address pollution. Likewise, Connie Young, a Fresno resident, and Thomas Menz echoed calls for a national carbon tax to mitigate the pollution.
The board unanimous approved items #18-26 as follows:
On Citizen Advisory Committee matters, Kevin Abernathy pointed out a “lack of quorum,” which they tried to resolve.
Director of Grants and Incentives Todd DeYoung stated that recognizing the vital role of incentives in lowering emissions, the District sent 3 proposals on March 16, 2020, to the EPA in response to the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program.
On May 5, 2021, EPA informed that the following proposals for funding:
Replace agricultural tractors that have Tier 0, Tier 1, or Tier 2 diesel engines with new agricultural tractors that have Tier 4 diesel engines.
Replace heavy-duty diesel trucks with 2016 or older model year engines with low- Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) natural gas trucks, which is 90% “cleaner.”
The governing board accepted $5,579,036 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the said 2 proposals.
The governing board approved the attached Budget Resolution to amend the 2021-22 District Budget to appropriate $5,579,036 in additional revenue.
Thomas Menz stated that the projects “do not improve air quality.”
Director DeYoung stated that vegetative barrier and urban greening projects use natural solutions to mitigate and reduce air quality impacts. The district sought consultations with the community.
The governing board approved an incentive program to provide funding for the development of urban greening and vegetative barriers consistent with District Board and California Air Resources Board (CARB)-approved Community Emissions Reduction Programs (CERPs) for Shafter and South Central Fresno AB 617 communities and future AB 617 communities, as applicable.
The governing board reallocated $1,000,000 in the South Central Fresno approved CERP from Locomotive Replacements Measure HD.1 to Urban Greening Measure UG.1.
The governing board authorized the Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) to make administrative changes to the program as necessary to ensure successful program implementation.
Director Bessinger asked if the $1,000,000 fund will affect rail and shift of locomotive projects. Director DeYoung clarified that there are adequate funds.
Director Pacheco-Werner emphasized the maintenance and need for “urban green” projects.
Supervisor Tom Wheeler and Buddy Mendes pointed out the need for a long-term plan in maintaining urban greening and vegetative barriers.
Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh answered that they seek commitment with partners, such as tree organizations.
Supervisor David Couch asked what can count in a matching component. DeYoung said that they are considering labor and other factors.
Dr. Alexander Sheriffs argued that “appropriate branding” is crucial to garnering community support for the project.
Director Pacheco-Werner reminded the board that drought resistance projects could lower emissions.
A caller from the North has criticized the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) as “the worst agency” regarding vegetation. He was concerned that vegetation could harbor homeless encampments, fires, and diseases.
Policy Assistant at Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Cynthia Pinto Cabrera, Janet DietzKamei, CEO of Tree Fresno Mona Cummings, expressed support for the incentive program.
Likewise, City of Fresno Project Manager Andreina Aguilar, Shafter residents Christine Zimmerman and Linda Martin, and Fresno resident Connie Young also support the program.
Through Youth Coordinator of Central California Environmental Justice Network Jasmine Buenrostro, Michael Estrada highlighted the benefits of trees and urged more funding of “urban green” projects in Southwest Fresno. Fresno resident Elena Cotton shared such a view.
Director DeYoung said that with stringent regulations on agricultural burning, the board has prioritized continued efforts to identify new alternatives and reduce open burning, including establishing a final phase-out strategy.
The governing board accepted $178.2 million in State funding for utilization in the District’s Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program.
Likewise, the governing board approved proposed enhancements to the District’s existing Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Incentive Program Guidelines and authorized Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) to make administrative changes to the Alternatives to Agricultural Open Burning Program as necessary for successful implementation.
The governing board authorized the Executive Director/APCO to execute any necessary agreements with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and any other parties.
The governing board recommended additional regular and temporary positions as needed to implement new state funds successfully. It amended the District’s Position Control List effective August 19, 2021, as necessary.
The governing board authorized and directed the Executive Director/APCO to commence hiring new staff and procurement of necessary support resources commensurate with the execution of an agreement with CARB and availability of funding and utilize temporary staffing to the extent feasible.
The governing board approved the attached Budget Resolution to amend the 2021-22 District Budget to appropriate $178,200,000 in new state funding, including $167,062,500 in NonOperating Appropriations, $1,277,017 for Salaries and Benefits, $49,090 for Services and Supplies, and $286,200 for Fixed Assets.
The governing board amended District Administrative Code to increase Executive Director/APCO signing authority for voluntary incentive grant contracts from $100,000 to $200,000 for effective and efficient implementation of District incentive programs.
Director Pacheco-Werner agrees with increasing staff capacity.
Director Bessinger asked if the “beneficial reuse” will provide a business opportunity for growers to resell their cedar to the public and landscaping supply companies. Director Sheikh replied that it is encouraged.
John Ara Yergat of JFS Enterprises hoped for the funding of the project.
Policy Coordinator at Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability Julia Jordan asked what is behind the “500-acre” definition of small-scale farmers, the percentage of farmers with “500 acres or less” in the Valley, and urged support for socially disadvantaged farmers.
Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) President Roger A. Isom conveyed support for the program yet urged additional funding. He “adamantly” opposed funding on forestry.
President of the Almond Alliance of California (AAC), Elaine Travino, urged the district’s funds to be released efficiently.
Janet DietzKamei emphasized reducing carbon-generated PM2.5 in “every way possible,” including agricultural burning while supporting the program. Environmental Affairs Officer at J. G. Boswell Company Dennis Tristao shared a similar sentiment of support.
Regarding the 2021 Wildfire Season, Director DeYoung said that due to worsening historical droughts and wildfires, the District works closely with land management agencies to provide technical support.
The district enhanced wildfire response coordination efforts and public outreach through social media, air quality tools, and the District’s Wildfire Resource page.
The board adopted proposed amendments to Rule 4702 regarding Internal Combustion Engines.
The proposed amendments address the commitment in the 2018 PM2.5 Plan to further reduce emissions from Internal Combustion (IC) engines and state AB 617 Best Available Retrofit Control Technology (BARCT) requirements.
Douglas Shaffer of California Resources Corporation expressed support for the amendments.
Policy Assistant at Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Cynthia Pinto Cabrera urged amendments to be “soonly implemented” while encouraging the district’s public engagement efforts, such as language options and email notification.
Roger Isom argued that the increasing electric rates would hurt the program.
Clean air milestone, especially the 1997 annual PM2.5 standard, is not possible without significant investment by Valley residents, businesses, and public agencies to reduce emissions over the past several decades.
In July 2021, the EPA proposed to disapprove portions of the 2018 PM2.5 Plan related to the 1997 annual PM2.5 standard due to failure by EPA to act timely on Plan and find Valley in attainment due to wildfire impacts and data incompleteness issues at CARB’s Bakersfield-Planz air monitoring site.
CARB and the District have prepared a proposed revision to the 2018 PM2.5 Plan to address the EPA’s proposed action, setting a target of December 31, 2023.
The revision proactively addresses the EPA’s proposed disapproval and timely action on the State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision to avoid potential Clean Air Act consequences such as sanctions clocks and transportation plans or funding.
Director Pacheco-Warner asked whether there is a “cushion” if the district will not achieve its PM2.5 standard by 2023.
Executive Director Sheikh replied that the district is closely looking at “further mitigation.”
Policy Assistant at Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Cynthia Pinto Cabrera pleaded for the district to “seriously” implement emissions reductions.
Mark Rose of the National Parks Conservation Association said that the district’s failures to attain successive PM2.5 standards must be a “wake-up call.”
He proposed a new plan stating new commitments such as electrifying residential developments, lowering burn thresholds, and freezing permitting new oil and gas developments.
He stated that “climate change-driven” wildfires are not an excuse for not meeting standards.
Janet DietzKamei opposed revisions to the PM2.5 standard.
Christine Zimmerman believed that the recent wildfires in 2018 to 2020 justify the revisions.
Thomas Menz asked when the district will contemplate further emission reduction in Fresno, Madera, and Kern.
Executive Director Samir Sheikh responded that the revisions do not rely on “ambitious” measures while understanding the “urgency” to implement revisions.
The governing board adopted the proposed Attainment Plan Revision for the 1997 Annual PM2.5 Standard.
Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh updated that the governing board study session will occur late this year.
In the closed session, the Governing Board discussed the items as follows:
Conference With Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation under Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4), one (1) potential case.
Pending Litigation under Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1), Comite Progreso de Lamont, et. cal. v. SJVUAPCD, Fresno Co. Superior Ct. Case No. 20CECG01008
The meeting of the governing board approximately ended at 1:00 pm. The next meeting will be on September 16, 2021, through Zoom.
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