Here’s what you need to know:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman sought collaboration with the District on the PM 2.5 plan, especially on emissions inventory and the role of ammonia.
  • The Board accepted $168,425,600 In-State FARMER Program Funds for Use in the District’s Agricultural Equipment Replacement Program.
  • Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh reminded the Board of an incoming spot bill (AB 2550) that tackles oversight in respect to air quality.

The Scene

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 on Thursday, March. 17, 2022, at 9 am. 

Officials present:

  • Chair and Vice Mayor at City of Porterville Monte Reyes 
  • Vice-Chair and Supervisor at Stanislaus County Vito Chiesa
  • Supervisor at Kings County Craig Pedersen
  • Vice-Chair and Supervisor at Merced County Lloyd Pareira
  • City of Clovis Mayor Drew M. Bessinger
  • 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 
  • 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 

Others Present:

  • Connie Young
  • Anthony Molina
  • Thomas Metz
  • Manuel Cunha from the Citizen Advisory Committee
  • EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman
  • Air Quality Planning Director Jessica Fiero
  • Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAC) Coordinator Jasmine Martinez
  • Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAC) Policy Assistant Cynthia Pinto Cabrera 
  • Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAC) Deputy Director Pedro Hernandez
  • Grants Program Director Todd DeYoung
  • Americans Farmers in California President Will Scott Jr
  • Jimmy Perry From Fresno Equipment Company
  • Kevin Abernathy
  • Permit Services Director Brian Clements


Connie Young urges the Board to support a federal carbon tax in public comment. Anthony Molina called for e-bike incentives and information about the upcoming AB 117 project.

Thomas Metz sought the Board to extend the wood-burning curtailment and investigate the use of residential wood-burning devices in homes with access to natural gas. 

The Board approved the consent calendar as follows:

#14 Assembly Bill 361 And District Remote Teleconferencing Update 

#15 Appointments To The District’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group 

#16 Reappointments To The District’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group 

#17 Approve Action Summary Minutes For The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District Governing Board Meeting Of Thursday, February 17, 2022 

#18 Receive And File A List Of Scheduled Meetings For 2022 

#19 Receive And File Operations Statistics Summary For February 2022 

#20 Receive And File Budget Status Reports As Of February 28, 2022 

B. Welcome Martha Guzman, EPA Region 9 Administrator 

She sought collaboration with the district on the PM 2.5 plan, especially on emissions inventory and the role of ammonia. 

C. Receive Update On Attainment Planning Efforts For Federal Particulate And Ozone Standards 

Air Quality Planning Director Jessica Fiero stated ongoing implementation of standards.

The District has developed and implemented numerous attainment plans to improve Valley air quality significantly over the last few decades. 

She mentioned that ozone standards are becoming strict, yet earlier standards contribute to gaining closer to these standards. 

The district focuses on nitrogen oxide (NOx) and nitrogen reductions since they contribute to ozone and particulate matter improvement. 

The implementation of the plans is based on control measure development and adopting regulations. 

In the 2018 PM 2.5 Plan, the District has exceeded total emissions reduction commitments by adopting amendments, except the Rule 4550 about Conservation Management Practices. 

The EPA approved the District’s PM.2.5 plan regarding the 2006 and 2012 PM 2.5 standards, except contingency measures. 

The Clean Air Act requires an attainment plan to have a contingency measure. 

Implementation of contingency measures has been “tricky” since it requires a contingency trigger, which is not feasible for most control technologies, and scarcity of measures.

She stressed concerted effort by the District, California Air Resources Board (CARB), and EPA to identify additional measures and funding for transformational transitions to new technologies.

Over 80% of NOx emissions from mobile sources are under state/federal jurisdiction. 

Your Board has taken action to address initial federal requirements:

  • 2020 Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) Demonstration on June 2020
  • Emissions Statement Program Certification on June 2020
  • Clean Fuels for Boilers Certification on June 2021

Remaining elements of the 2022 Ozone Plan: 

  • Thorough emissions inventory
  • Air quality modeling and additional technical analysis to establish the Valley’s carrying capacity and emissions reductions targets
  • Thorough Control Measures Analysis
  • Additional technologically and economically feasible controls to expedite the attainment
  • Contingency measures
  • Other federal requirements

The District projects 2037 as the attainment deadline. She mentioned the improving ozone air quality in the valley. 

Initial modeling assessment indicates that Valley will attain 70 ppb 8-hour ozone standard by the 2037 deadline. District and CARB are refining this analysis over the coming months.

CARB posted the draft of the State Strategy on January 31, 2022, and presented it at the District Ozone plan workshop on March 7, 2022. 

The State Strategy focuses on the District and South Coast while also achieving state-wide emissions reductions. The strategy includes mobile source regulations. 

Primarily federally regulated source emissions surpassed CA source emissions in 2020 and will be double CA source emissions by 2030. 

The Board has advocated for federal agencies to do their fair share to reduce emissions from sources under their regulatory authority.

Rulemaking is critical for reducing emissions from interstate trucks.

EPA proposing two options for the Clean Truck Rule:

  • Option 1: Two-step phase in 2027-2030 model year (0.035 g NOx) AND 2031+ model year requirements (0.02 g NOx)
  • Option 2: 2027+ model years: 0.05 g NOx on current test cycles, 0.1 g NOx on Low-Load Cycle

CARB’s current state requirements are more stringent than both proposed options.

The District will hold a public workshop on the 2022 Ozone Plan in April and present the plan to the Governing Board for adoption during the summer. 

Maintenance plans support attainment designations for federal standards and demonstrate ongoing compliance upon reaching attainment. 

Upcoming maintenance plans include:

  • Updated PM10 standard maintenance plan
  • 1-hour ozone standard maintenance plan
  • 1997 PM2.5 standard maintenance plan
  • Additional procedures as Valley reaches attainment of 8-hr ozone and another standard

Supervisor Buddy Mendez asked whether the District has calculated total pollution by railroads.

Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh clarified that locomotive emissions increased. 

Thus, he emphasized the need for robust engagement between CARB, EPA, and rail companies in achieving reductions. 

Supervisor Peterson said that the Board must further discuss the issue of water supplies. 

Manuel Cunha from the Citizen Advisory Committee seeks a forest management plan to address wildfires and the building of reservoirs. 

Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAC) Coordinator Jasmine Martinez, Policy Assistant Cynthia Pinto Cabrera, and Deputy Director Pedro Hernandez asked the District to include a public health and social cost analysis in all rules and plans.

D. Accept $168,425,600 In-State FARMER Program Funds For Use In The District’s Agricultural Equipment Replacement Program 

Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung said that reducing emissions from agricultural sources is a crucial District strategy to meet federal health-based air quality standards.

As part of recent attainment planning efforts for federal PM2.5 standards, the State committed to reducing 11 tons per day of NOx and 0.58 tons per day of PM2.5 from agricultural equipment by 2024 in the Valley. 

These commitments included San Joaquin Valley Supplement to 2016 State Strategy for the SIP, adopted by CARB in 2018 and included in District’s 2018 PM2.5 Plan. 

In 2017, AB 134 and AB 109 authorized funding to reduce emissions from the agricultural industry.

Both included funding for cleaner ag harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, ag pump engines, tractors, and other equipment used in ag operations.

The district worked closely with CARB to develop the FARMER Program guidelines.

The District allocated $261,167,542 in FARMER Program funding during the first three funding cycles.

For the fiscal year 2021-22, the state legislature allocated $212,582,000 to CARB to fund grants with air districts under the fourth funding cycle of the FARMER Program.

  • $210,882,000 made available to air districts statewide ($1,700,000 held for CARB program administration).

District allocated $168,425,600 of this amount, representing 80% of total statewide funding for this vital program. 

During the first three years of the program, the District funded 6,000 units, with 3400 of the units being agricultural tractors. The program has a 38 percent incentive. 

The program’s success depends on providing adequate incentives to farmers to replace old equipment voluntarily. 

The state FARMER program guidelines allow for incentives of up to 80 percent of the new equipment costs.

The program has cost-effectiveness of approximately $9,000 per ton below the $33,000 cap. 

Due to the high demand for farm equipment and global supply chain issues, equipment costs have increased and resulted in a lower overall percentage of equipment costs recovered by the incentives.

While the District target is 50 to 60 percent of eligible equipment costs, current incentive levels result in 30 to 40 percent of equipment cost. 

New applications received down 50 percent over the past six months of 2021

Proposed revisions seek to bring incentive levels back to a Board-approved program funding targets of 50 to 60 percent across all categories.

The District collaborates with CARB, USDA-NRCS, and ag stakeholders, to propose new incentive levels based on extensive research conducted across various equipment manufacturers, models, options, and configurations.

All categories are subject to a cap of 60 percent of eligible project costs. Project Coordinator

DeYoung expects a significant increase in applications. 

The district proposes to increase the eligible incentive amount to 80% of eligible costs for equipment replacement for small ag operations of less than 100 acres in size.

The district will work with agricultural stakeholders to ensure continued assertive outreach and access to the program.

District working closely with CARB to develop a new pilot program for small growers to replace Tier 0 or Tier 1 equipment with Tier 3 or cleaner used equipment.

FARMER and other program funding are crucial to continuing to advance the lowest emitting technologies in the agricultural equipment sector. Program funds cleanest available certified and emerging zero-emissions technologies.

The District is working with CARB to include a more streamlined process for zero-emissions tractors in FARMER Program guidelines. 

Upon Board approval of proposed enhancements to the District’s Ag Equipment Replacement Program and CARB approval of FARMER Program enhancements, staff will immediately incorporate changes into District’s program.

The Board approved the following recommendations:

  • Accept $168,425,600 in state FARMER Program funds from the California Air Resources Board to fund agricultural equipment replacement in the San Joaquin Valley and authorize the District to administer this funding under current and future FARMER Program guidelines.
  • Accept Adjustments to the incentive levels in the District’s Agricultural Equipment Replacement Program to maintain Board-approved program funding targets.
  • It increased incentive levels in the District’s Agricultural Equipment Replacement Program for small agricultural operations of less than 100 acres.
  • Administrative changes to the program, including approving ongoing incentive level adjustments, as necessary to ensure successful program implementation

On public comment, Americans Farmers in California President Will Scott Jr. supports the program. 

E. Receive And File District’s Annual Air Toxics Report For 2021 

Permit Services Director Brian Clements mentioned that the federal government identified over 700 compounds as “Toxic Air Contaminants” or “Hazardous Air Pollutants.”

These compounds can cause acute health impacts, cancer, or other chronic health impacts.

Examples are diesel exhaust particulate, dioxins, perchloroethylene, hexavalent chrome, benzene, asbestos. 

The compounds are different from the criteria pollutants addressed by National Ambient Air Quality Standards (nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, etc.). 

District’s Integrated Air Toxics Program combines federal, state, and local requirements in one umbrella. 

Also, the District runs the Air Toxic “Hot Spots” Program (AB 2588) that addresses health risks from air toxins from existing operations in the Valley.

The District evaluates new or modified sources of air toxics and implements regulations.

Moreover, the district assists land-use agencies in mitigating potential air toxins from new development projects under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

With the reduced air toxins, there has been a significant reduction in cancer risk from breathing air in the Valley since 1990.

The benzene emissions have reduced to 90 percent, based on samples collected at monitoring stations. 

The Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Reporting and Assessment Act requires existing facilities to report toxic air emissions and are prioritized based on very conservative risk screening.

Low priority facilities are exempt from further assessment. Intermediate priority facilities must update information every four years.

High-priority facilities must assess and report risk levels, hold public neighborhood meetings, and reduce risk.

Intermediate and high-priority/risk facilities require ongoing reporting and assessment.

Ongoing risk reduction efforts resulted in no high-risk facilities identified in the Valley since 2007

District utilizing a phased approach to comprehensively reassess facilities under AB 2588 to address OEHHA’s latest guidance changes.

Since 2016, the District has reassessed over 5,300 facilities using CARB/ Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) guidelines.

  • 4,466 low priority/exempt facilities
  • 762 intermediate priority facilities 
  • 85 Health Risk Assessments (HRA) completed (resulting in 19 low risk and 66 intermediate-risk facilities)
  • 23 high priority facilities currently being evaluated via HRA

Risk Management Reviews (RMR) streamlines screening tools for minor and joint projects. 

The model assumptions are highly conservative, based on worst-case emissions, exposure, and meteorological conditions. 

Through its permitting and inspection processes, the District implements state and local regulations that aim at specific types of facilities and operations to further reduce air toxic emissions in the Valley. 

The state regulations are called Air Toxic Control Measures (ATCMs) and apply to various sources. 

The federal regulations are called Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), with 150 rules ranging from aerospace coatings to wood preservation.

District’s incentive-based programs prioritize public health benefits by achieving NOx and PM reductions with collateral reductions in toxic emissions. 

The District has administered $4.2 billion towards clean air projects, resulting in a reduction of 212,000 tons of emissions.

  • Reduced 16,000 tons of diesel particulate emissions
  • Removed or retrofitted over 29,000 diesel engines

These efforts have reduced Diesel PM emissions to 60 percent. 

AB 617 requires CARB to develop a uniform statewide annual reporting system of criteria and toxic emissions. 

In Nov. 2020, CARB finalized the Regulation for the Reporting of Criteria Air Pollutants and Toxic Air Contaminants (CTR), which require enhanced facility emissions inventory data reporting. 

Emissions inventory data is critical to understanding the sources of emissions that may contribute to adverse health risks or other impacts at the local, regional, and statewide levels. 

The board approved the following recommendations:

  • Receive and file the District’s Annual Air Toxics Report for the Year 2021 
  • Authorize District staff to distribute the report to county boards of supervisors, city councils, and local health officers, and make the information publically available on the District website

F. Verbal Report On California Air Resources Board (CARB) Activities 

A virtual workshop on dairy and livestock methane and renewable natural gas will be on March 29 from 9 am to 5 pm. 

G. Executive Director/APCO Comments 

Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh announced a summit on May 17 to 18 related to the alternative to the wood-burning phaseout process.

He reminded the Board of an incoming spot bill (AB 2550) that tackles oversight in respect to air quality. 

The meeting of the governing board approximately ended at noon. The next meeting will be through Zoom on Thursday, April 21, 2022. 

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