Documenter: Paulina Rodriguez Ruiz

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Board unanimously approved a motion to accept $8.4 million in additional state revenue to fund the district’s drive clean in the San Joaquin vehicle replacement program and approved program enhancements.

  • The Board unanimously approved a voluntary emission reduction agreement with Fifth Standard Solar PV, LLC to receive funds in the amount up to $573,012 to mitigate air quality impacts from the Fifth Standard Solar Complex (Project) located in Fresno County.

  • Update on Valley’s efforts to attain federal PM2.5 and ozone standards. The San Joaquin Valley has successfully met the 1997 PM2.5 24-hour standard (65 µg/m3). The San Joaquin Valley also became the first and only region in the nation classified as ‘Extreme’ nonattainment to reach attainment (2013 Ozone plan 1-hour ozone standard). Valley is also on track to meet 84 ppb ozone standard.

  • In order to meet 2015 Ozone Standard, a new 2022 Ozone plan must be adopted with an attainment deadline of 2037. Over 85% of remaining NOx emissions in the Valley come from mobile sources under state and federal jurisdiction. New plan will focus on reducing emissions from passenger vehicles, heavy duty trucks, locomotives, and other mobile sources.

  • If standard is not met Valley could lose federal transportation funding (billions of dollars), loss of local control through federal implementation plan including potential imposition of drastic measures (no drive days) and negative impacts to public health.

San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District Board Members

Chair: Craig Pedersen, Kings County

Vice Chair:  Lloyd Pareira, Merced County 

Board Members: 

  • Drew M. Bessinger Councilmember, City of Clovis

  • Vito Chiesa Supervisor, Stanislaus County 

  • David Couch Supervisor, Kern County 

  • Christina Fugazi Councilmember, City of Stockton

  • Buddy Mendes Supervisor, Fresno County 

  • Alvaro Preciado Mayor Pro Tem, City of Avenal 

  • Monte Reyes Vice Mayor, City of Porterville 

  • Robert Rickman Supervisor, San Joaquin County

  • Alexander C. Sherriffs, M.D. Appointed by Governor

  • Amy Shuklian Supervisor, Tulare County

  • Tom Wheeler Supervisor, Madera County 

  • Deborah Lewis Councilmember, City of Los Banos 

Appointed by Governor: Tania Pacheco-Werner, PhD. 

Executive Director: Samir Sheikh Air Pollution Control Officer Northern Region Office 

Administrator: Michelle Franco

Purpose of Agency:The San Joaquin Valley Air District is a public health agency whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life for all Valley residents through efficient, effective and entrepreneurial air quality management strategies.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is made up of 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 SCENE

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District meetings are held in-person at the Central Region Office, Governing Board Room, with limited physical access for public attendance and through Zoom. The meetings are broadcasted through the District’s teleconference platform. 

Chair Craig Pedersen called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. via Zoom. Board members present included Craig Pedersen, Drew M. Bessinger Mayor, David Couch, Buddy Mendes, Tania Pacheco-Werner, Alvaro Preciado, Monte Reyes, Robert Rickman, Alexander C. Sheriffs, Amy Shuklian, Tom Wheeler and Deborah Lewis. District Office Staff and Administration were also present including Samir Sheikh (executive director) and Michelle Franco (administration).

The administrative staff wore masks at their designated seating and were six-feet apart. Board members and community members joined via Zoom. 

PUBLIC COMMENT

Janet Dietzkamei: Fresno resident. Dietzkamei expressed concern over extreme weather events such as flooding on the east coast, historic heat waves and fires on the west coast. Urged CA lawmakers to do everything they can to act on climate change today. According to Dietzkamei scientific models said these events would happen years down the line, but they’re happening now. 

Connie Young: Fresno Resident, Retired Registered Nurse, Volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). Expressed gratitude towards the Burn Cleaner program, she qualified for a heat pump. “Last week more than 200 journals issued an unprecedented statement,” Young said, “the greatest threat to public health is climate change.” Young wants to hold leaders accountable, educate others about health risks related to climate change and engage in bold actions to reduce carbon emissions.

UPDATE ON THE 2021-2022 BUDGET

During the verbal update on the 2021-2022 state budget, state and federal budget legislative efforts were presented to the Board. The presentation began with funding that will be coming directly to the district to improve air quality (San Joaquin Valley).

  • $180 million – SJV Alternatives Agricultural Burning

  • $213 million – FARMER (Historically SJV has receive 80%)

  • $45 million – Low NOx Truck Funding (Severe or Extreme Non-Attainment Area)

  • This money is being used to purchase low emission trucks for immediate reductions. Although the support for no emission trucks is there, the technology isn’t available yet, not on the scale the district needs it. 

  • AB 617

  •  $50 million for local implementation

  • $260 million for Community Air Protection Grants

  •  $10 million for technical assistance grants

  • $30 million – Small Off-road Engine Grants (including zero emissions landscaping)

  • Big focus on zero emission landscaping equipment for commercial landscaping. This program will provide incentives, encourage voluntary reductions. 

  • This is a competitive grant solicitation. Funds to support large-scale deployments of on-road, zero-emission Class 8 drayage and regional haul trucks as well as the necessary zero-emission vehicle fueling infrastructure needed for service operation.

  • Drayage trucks are defined as on-road heavy duty trucks that transport containers and bulk to and from the ports and intermodal rail yards as well as many other locations. Regional haul trucks, for the purpose of this solicitation, have daily ranges of 200 to 400 miles on a single charge or refueling event and are designed for day use and typically return to a home base each night.

  • $247 million – Carl Moyer Funding (includes $153 million correction from previous years)

  • Carl Moyer program expires in 2023. Received additional funding ($153 million) because of an accounting issue in the state in 2017, district did not receive funds. 

The presentation then continued with an overview of funding that will be coming to the state/will be going to state agencies.This money won’t be coming directly to the district:

  • $1.6 billion – Wildfires Prevention and Resiliency

  •  $536 million for wildfire prevention and forest resiliency (2020-21 early action)

  •  $988 million for wildfire prevention and forest health

  •  $2 million for air districts – This money will be used to pay administrative staff (funding). Money is to ensure staff doing forecasting/providing burn windows can continue to do their work.

  • $32 million – Dairy methane reduction

  • $75 million – CDFA Healthy Soils

  • $315 million – Drayage trucks, school bus, and transit bus ZEV incentives

  • $500 million – HVIP/CORE for medium and heavy duty trucks and buses

  • $525 million – Clean Vehicle Rebate Project with $10 million for e-bikes

  • $200 million – Medium and heavy duty ZEV fueling and charging infrastructure

  • $300 million – Light duty charging and fueling infrastructure

Board member comments:

  • Supervisor Buddy Mendes brought up the concern that although a lot of money is being allocated to improve air quality in the State of California, funding that is being overseen by state agencies can often not see the light of day. According to Mendes, the state never spent all the money that was provided through Prop 86 in 2006 (Prop 86 was connected to water). 

  • Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner wants to ensure that funding that is going to low emission NOx trucks is clearly communicated to the public. At this moment there isn’t an electric vehicle (0 emission) to replace long haul trucking. Board supports zero emission vehicles but the technology is still not here.

  • Supervisor Craig Pedersen (Chair) stated water issues need to be a bigger concern when air quality is being discussed. According to Pedersen, If the drought continues millions of agricultural land will be unused next year. When land is empty it contributes to dust, soil depletion. 

ACTION ITEMS

The Board unanimously passed the following action items:

1. Accept $8,400,000 in additional state revenue to fund the district’s drive clean in the San  Joaquin vehicle replacement program and approved program enhancements.

  • Expanding the eligibility criteria from the current requirement of 1999 and older vehicles, to 2006 and older vehicles. 

  • Eliminating the requirement to fail an emissions test in order to qualify for funding under the program.

Background:

The District’s Drive Clean in the San Joaquin Program provides a variety of monetary incentives to Valley residents aimed at reducing emissions from passenger vehicles. These incentives include options for vehicle emission related repairs, replacing older high emitting vehicles with newer cleaner models in low income and disadvantaged communities, and providing rebates for the purchase or lease of new clean air vehicles. 

The District has partnered with Valley Clean Air Now (Valley CAN) to administer this program in coordination with the District’s vehicle repair program. To date, the vehicle replacement program has resulted in nearly 3,700 vehicles replaced throughout the Valley. 

Board member comments:

  • Councilmember Drew M. Besinger asked if there was a list of disadvantaged communities. Wanted to know how Valley CAN has targeted populations/communities for the program. Samir Sheikh Executive Director Air Pollution Control Officer Northern Region Office, shared that the tool used to identify areas with highest needs is CalEnviroscreen

  • Deborah Lewis, Mayor Pro Tem of Los Baños is focused on outreach. How can she get staff to get word out into the community, especially more rural areas. Being aware of technological barriers (lack of access to social media, internet). Lewis wants to ensure this program is accessible to more people throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

  • Dr. Pachecho Warner says this program is one of the best in the state. This program is a great example of equity, reaching “disadvantaged” and rural communities. Targeted outreach is no small feat.

  • Supervisor Buddy Mendes said it’s easier to identify what communities are disadvantaged as opposed to those that are disadvantaged or severely disadvantaged. In order to target communities, it must be done through individual zip codes. Fresno itself is a disadvantaged city, containing some of the most disadvantaged zip codes in the state, yet some zip codes are extremely affluent. 

2. The Board unanimously approved a voluntary emission reduction agreement with Fifth Standard Solar PV, LLC to receive funds in the amount up to $573,012 to mitigate air quality impacts from the Fifth Standard Solar Complex (Project) located in Fresno County.

  • Estimated mitigation to be achieved. District will certify mitigation when emission reductions are achieved and VERA fulfilled. 

1.9 tons of ROG 

31.2 tons of NOx 

28.8 tons of PM10

Background:

VERA is an innovative California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) mitigation measure that has been utilized since 2005 to reduce air quality impacts from development projects. VERAs are designed to provide an enforceable mechanism for Lead Agencies to mitigate project emissions through their environmental review processes.

  • Developers implement onsite mitigation measures and project design elements. 

  • VERAs then serve as an additional mitigation measure to compliment project design elements and achieve additional emissions reductions.

  • A VERA can be implemented to address air quality impacts from both construction and operational phases of a project.

The Fifth Standard Solar Facility Project Complex (proposed project) would construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 150-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) generation facility, a 20-MW solar PV generation facility, and an up to 100-MW energy storage facility. The proposed project includes PV electricity-generating facilities, a battery storage facility, and associated infrastructure. The proposed project would be located on approximately 1,600 acres in unincorporated Fresno County. A new generation-tie line would be constructed to connect the solar and storage components of the proposed project to Pacific Gas & Electric’s adjacent Gates Substation (point of interconnect). The anticipated lifetime of the proposed project would be 35 years and would be decommissioned once operations of the facility cease. The final lease agreement is anticipated to occur by 2022 with a lease term of 35 years. The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) would tentatively have an end date of August 2057. 

Board Member Comments:

  • Dr Alexander Sheriffs had questions in terms of how funding will be spent. He mentioned the district tries to spend money as close to the area that it will impact. 

UPDATE ON THE 2021 WILDFIRE SEASON AND DISTRICT EFFORTS

Presentation focused on receiving updates on the current 2021 wildfire season and ongoing educational  outreach efforts. 

  • San Joaquin Valley is experiencing exceptional drought, with the majority of California undergoing an extreme drought. This is contributing to wildfires. Four of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history occurred during the 2021 wildfire season. 

  • Air pollution generated from increasingly intense wildfire seasons directly impacts the Valley’s air quality and health of Valley residents. 

  • In 2021 to date, wildfires have burned over 2 million acres across California, and have led to periods of unhealthy air quality impacts due to PM2.5 and ozone pollution across the Valley. This year’s burned acreage represents approximately 150,000 fewer acres than at this time last year, which experienced the most acreage burned by wildfires on record. 

  • The District provides timely information to the public on current conditions through health cautionary statements, air quality alerts with the National Weather Service, frequent social media alerts and information, responding to media and public requests, web resources including the District’s wildfire page, and air quality information through various tools such as the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) and EPA’s AirNow resources.

  1. Coordination with Land Managers

  • Works with land management agencies such as forest service, Tule River Reservation to provide technical support and enhance wildfire response coordination efforts and public outreach.

  • District assists in the deployment of temporary monitors to measure PM2.5 in communities that may be impacted by wildfires 

  1. Communicating with public during wildfire events

  • Utilizing press releases & social media to communicate to the public when air conditions are unsafe. 

  • Has partnered with schools, AB617 communities, public health officers and directors to get messages out.

  • Strong emphasis on social media platforms (Instagram, Nextdoor, Facebook, Twitter). Messaging is bilingual (Spanish/English).

  1. Educating residents on available air quality tools

  • Valley Air application downloaded over 41,000 times

  1. Working with Valley schools

  • Youth and school outreach top priority for District through Healthy Air Living Schools program adopted by your Board

  • Focuses on protecting students during episodes of poor air quality

  • Engages teachers and students through the bilingual K-6 activity kit, annual kids calendar and video contest

  • Urges action by students and parents to make clean air choices

  • Communicating directly with 1,000+ schools to ensure they have accurate information to make decisions for their students – RAAN/Real-time Outdoor Activity Recommendations (ROAR) first-of-its kind communication platform jointly developed with UCSF-Fresno, American Lung Association, and others

  • In light of newly available publicly available tools and health research, District initiating conversations with school districts, California Interscholastic Federation, researchers, and other stakeholders to discuss potential enhancements

  1. District’s wildfire webpage

  • Provides detailed information about current wildfires, hourly air quality data, health protective tips and a link to temporary air monitors in the mountain and foothill communities

  • Updated on a daily basis, including holidays and weekends during wildfire season

  • Includes real-time wildfire and air quality information from CAL FIRE

  • Provides tools to assist the public in their decision-making

  • Links to health protective information from EPA, Cal/OSHA, CDC, CDPH and others

  1. State funding for clean air centers (Assembly Bill 836)

  • Provides funding to upgrade ventilation systems and provide portable air cleaners to create a network of clean air centers at locations throughout the Valley, including:

  • Schools

  • Community centers

  • Senior centers

  • Sports centers

  • Libraries

  •  District allocated $750,000 in state funding to administer pilot program in San Joaquin Valley • Anticipated to return to your Board to accept state funding and approve a clean air centers pilot program for the San Joaquin Valley in Fall.

Board Member Comments:

  • Dr. Pacheco-Werner was supportive of bilingual outreach. Efforts to reach more populations/vulnerable communities.

  • Supervisor Shuklian mentioned Tulare county is not improving, there are ongoing fire evacuations and warnings. Tulare County needs more fire monitors.

Public Comment:

Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera: Wildfires have always been a part of California’s landscape, indigenous people used to do controlled burns. Fire has always had an important role in CA’s ecosystem, she urged the board to act on climate change. According to Cabrera wildfires are guaranteed to increase, worsening health impacts.

Janet Dietzkamei: Fresno resident. Dietzkamei says wildfires are the new normal and people need to start thinking about other sources of pollution in the air. She is grateful for the district’s efforts in communicating unhealthy air conditions.

RECEIVE UPDATE ON ATTAINMENT PLANNING EFFORTS FOR FEDERAL PM2.5 AND OZONE STANDARDS

Jonathan Klassen,Director of Air Quality Science and Planning at San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District provided an informational update regarding the status of EPA’s review of the District’s plans for attainment of the federal ambient air quality standards for PM2.5, as well as an update about the development of a new plan for attainment of the recently strengthened federal standards for ozone. 

  • 2018 PM2.5 Plan adopted in November 2018 to address latest PM2.5 health-based standards:

  • Exposure associated with premature mortality, increased hospital admissions for heart or lung causes, acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, respiratory symptoms, and restricted activity days.

  • Air Quality Progress – 24-hour PM2.5 Standards

  • Valley now able to show attainment of 1997 24-hour 65 standard (2018-2020). Huge milestone.

  • District Progress in Adopting Clean Air Measures:

  • Phasing out remaining ag burning by 2024 Significant incentives to assist growers with transition to new alternatives. 

  • New District Alternatives to Ag Open Burning Incentive Program key to supporting strategy

  • $40.6 million, 49,000 acres, 1,345,000 tons to date

  • $180 million in new state funding for alternatives

  • Reducing emissions from landscaping.

  • Since 2001, District’s Clean Green Yard Machines Residential Rebate Program has provided funding for Valley residents to replace gas-powered lawn mowers with zero-emissions mowers – your Board expanded program in 2019 to include other yard equipment (trimmers, edgers, etc.) 17

  • In 2019, the District launched a new program for replacement of equipment used by commercial Valley landscapers with zero-emissions equipment (first in state). 

  • Low-Dust nut harvester program

  • New program promotes deployment and evaluation of low-dust technology on broader scale to cost-effectively reduce localized community impacts 

  • $9 million in funding to date provided to deploy 101 new harvesters throughout Valley 

  • Residential wood burning regulation (Rule 4901). Strengthens wood burning requirements – most stringent rule in the nation.

  • Status of EPA Review Standard

  1. 1997 PM2.5 standard

  • 24-hour standard (65 µg/m3) – Valley now able to demonstrate attainment of 24-hr standard.

  • Annual standard (15 µg/m3) – July 2021: EPA proposes disapproval of plan for annual standard due to inability to demonstrate attainment at one Valley site (CARB’s Bakersfield-Planz) impacted by data collection issues and wildfires.

  1. 2006 24-hour PM2.5 Standard (35 µg/m3)

  • June 2020: EPA approves attainment plan –Includes approval of demonstration that “Most Stringent Measures” feasible for implementation are required in the Valley

  1. 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard (12 µg/m3)

  • EPA continuing to review portion of 2018 PM2.5 Plan related to 2012 annual average PM2.5 standard.

  • Valley Efforts to Improve Ozone Air Quality

  • San Joaquin Valley first and only region in nation classified as “Extreme” nonattainment to reach attainment (2013 Ozone plan 1-hour ozone standard)

  • 2007 Ozone Plan (included “black box” of unidentified measures, Valley on track to meeting 2023 deadline)

  • 2016 Ozone Plan (Valley on track to meeting 2031 deadline)

  • Over 90% reduction in population exposure to peak ozone values 

  •  In 2020 Valley experienced lowest federal 8-hour ozone “design value” on record (excluding 2020 wildfire impacts) – Demonstrates 91% progress towards meeting 84 ppb standard (2023 deadline)

  • In order to meet 2015 Ozone Standard, a new 2022 Ozone plan must be adopted with an attainment deadline of 2037. Over 85% of remaining NOx emissions in the Valley come from mobile sources under state and federal jurisdiction. New plan will focus on reducing emissions from passenger vehicles, heavy duty trucks, locomotives, and other mobile sources.

Background:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) periodically reviews and establishes health-based national ambient air quality standards for ozone, particulate matter, and other criteria air pollutants, guided by the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).

The District has adopted numerous air quality attainment plans that identify measures needed in the Valley to attain the increasingly stringent federal standards. Over the past decades, the District has implemented generations of emissions control measures for stationary and area sources under its jurisdiction. Similarly, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted

regulations for mobile sources. Together, these efforts represent the nation’s toughest air pollution emissions controls. In addition to having the toughest air regulations in the nation, the District also operates the most effective and efficient incentive grants program, investing over

$3.8 billion in public/private funding towards clean air projects to date that have achieved over 199,000 tons of emissions reductions.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/APCO COMMENTS 

  • Samir Sheikh, Executive Director was grateful to board members for participating in clean air vehicle events. He also mentioned the district annual report will be available in english and Spanish.

GOVERNING BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS

  • Alexander C. Sheriff is optimistic about federal attainment PM2.5 and ozone presentation. DIfficult goals that are contingent on continuous work.

CLOSED SESSION

There was no closed session. Adjourned meeting at 12:16 p.m.

Next Regular Meeting: October 21, 2021 at 9:00AM at the Central Region Office, Governing Board Room, 1990 E. Gettysburg Avenue, Fresno, CA. 

Due to COVID-19 protocols the District will be implementing recommended health precautions including social distancing measures in the Governing Board chambers which will limit the number of persons to no more than 15 public members in the Fresno office, 10 public members in the Modesto office, and 10 public members in the Bakersfield office. To ensure that social distancing mandates can be met, the District asks any member of the public wishing to attend the meeting in person to please contact the Clerk of the Boards at (559) 230-6000 at least 3 days prior to the meeting date. In person attendance will be allowed for on a first come, first served basis.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documenters-admin@thefresnoland.com with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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