May 18, 2023 — Valley Air Board
Documented by Josef Sibala
Here’s what you need to know:
- At its meeting on May 18, the Valley Air Governing Board appropriated $18.5 million in additional revenue from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to fund the replacement of low-dust nut harvesters and wood-burning devices.
- Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Morgan Lambert states the proposed budget includes $650 million to implement operations and voluntary incentive grant programs. The budget will be further discussed and decided on at the June 15 meeting.
- The board adopted the proposed PM 2.5 Contingency Measure State Implementation Plan revision and amendments to Rule 4901, especially on wood-burning fireplaces and heaters.
- Executive Director Samir Sheikh announced that the District would launch two revamped programs: the Zero-Emissions Landscaping Equipment Program and the Air Purifier Program.
- How will residents and growers benefit from incentive grant programs?
- When will the District implement the PM 2.5 Plan?
- Will the air monitoring committees under AB 617 be empowered?
According to its website, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) 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 Board includes a fifteen-member governing board 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 met on Thursday, May. 18, 2023, at 9 am at 1990 E Gettysburg Ave, Fresno, CA 93726.
- Chair and Supervisor at Stanislaus County Vito Chiesa
- Vice Chair and Councilmember at the City Of Los Banos Deborah Lewis
- Supervisor at Fresno County Buddy Mendes
- Supervisor at Merced County Lloyd Pareira
- Supervisor at Madera County Brian Macaulay
- Executive Director And Air Pollution Control Officer Samir Sheikh
- Supervisor at Kern County David Couch
- Robert Rickman, Supervisor, San Joaquin County
- Alexander C. Sherriffs, M.D., appointed by Governor
- Mayor of Avenal Alvaro Preciado
- Supervisor at Kings County Rusty Robinson
- Councilmember City of Wasco Gilberto Reyna
- Councilmember City of Modesto Rosa Escutia-Braaton
- Supervisor at Tulare County Amy Shuklian
- Tania Pacheco-Werner, Ph.D. appointed by Governor
Officials not present:
- City of Clovis Mayor Drew M. Bessinger
- Connie Young
- Janet Dietzkamei
- Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung
- Project Coordinator Jonathan Klassen
- Program Manager Emily Kneeland
- Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Morgan Lambert
- Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Ryan Hayashi
- Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Sheraz Gill
- Director of Administrative Services Ryan Buchanan
- Controller Ryan Kincaid
- President of Nisei Farmers League Manuel Cunha
- Kevin Hamilton
The board conducted a public hearing for review and comment on District’s 2023-2024
Executive Director Samir Sheikh said the budget also includes reviewing priorities and fostering accountability.
He said the District exceeded federal and state mandates on NOx, engaged residents, and supported advocacy efforts.
He added that last year saw the effective implementation of attainment plans on the Clean Air Act, such as the 2022 Ozone Plan.
He stated that contingency plans will be reviewed with the Environmental Protection Agency.
AB 617 involves a major program that includes air monitoring committees within 19 local communities throughout the state.
The District implements Community Emission Reduction Programs monthly to ensure community feedback.
Private-public partnerships in clean air programs were matched by $600 million last year.
The next budget seeks to provide resources for the District’s operations and programs and employs zero-based budgeting.
For the next fiscal year, Sheikh eyes that the stationary source operating revenues are stable and proposed no increase in permit fees.
State and federal operating revenues also are stable, he added. The District anticipates significant funding and workload.
He mentioned that seeking the California Air Resources Board and Environmental Protection Agency approval of air quality plans is crucial. Turnover of fleets of mobile sources would be a priority.
Public education and outreach on wildfire impacts for the summer are in the pipeline.
The total operating budget will increase by 1%, reflecting the labor agreements.
Sheikh mentioned that state revenues fund full-year funding of recent position enhancements. The budget will produce a 6% salary savings through position control.
The budget includes $650 million in funding for administration and use of emission reduction incentive funds in a wide range of applications.
Lambert states that the District would face a significant workload and funding.
He states the proposed budget includes $650 million to implement operations and voluntary incentive grant programs.
The District explored opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and other strategies in the Building a Better America initiative.
He added that the District would focus on developing the 2023 Plan for the 2012 PM2.5 Standard, which may include additional analyses for the 2006 PM2.5 standard.
The District will hone contingency measures, along with maintenance plans.
The EPA has approved the portions of the 2018 plan for the 2016 PM 2.5 Standard, and the District is awaiting full approval.
In the next fiscal year, Lambert said the District plans to complete the findings for ozone and PM2.5 standards with federal deadlines.
He maintained that new state and federal mandates would require expanding federal regulatory and community-level monitoring networks.
The District would face a significant workload in implementing AB 617 mandates. When a new community is selected under AB 617, it represents a multi-year commitment to work with the community on monitoring air emissions programs.
The District will operate AB 617 Community Air Monitoring networks in Arvin/Lamont, Stockton, Shafter, and South Central Fresno communities.
AB 617 requires adopting a schedule to implement the Best Available Retrofit Control Technology.
The state has adopted the new annual emissions reporting rule, which would dramatically increase the facilities required to report annual emissions inventory data.
He states that the District must report and compile emissions control findings to the new statewide Technology Clearinghouse for toxic BACT for stationary sources.
The District anticipates a significant increase in criteria pollutant and toxic emissions reporting of facilities from 2023 to 2024, with 3000 facilities expected to come online.
Several areawide inventories are also scheduled for an update in the next fiscal year.
The District is currently in a multi-year phased-in approach to comprehensively reassess air toxic risks for all Valley facilities under the AB 2588 Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Program.
Lambert announced that the evaluation of approximately 1,000 facilities is planned for the next fiscal year.
In 2022, CARB adopted amendments to Emission Inventory Criteria and Guidelines Regulation, which would increase reportable substances from 700 to 1,700. Lambert added that the amendments will impact inventory and AB 2588 workload.
The District is facing several rules recently adopted by the board with upcoming compliance deadlines.
He mentioned the District would explore opportunities to phase out agricultural open burning in the Valley.
He added that the District would continue public outreach in communities and schools, harnessing a robust IT infrastructure.
The District plans to host an air quality symposium to focus on current issues and challenges in the Valley and craft a strategic plan.
The symposium will focus on current and remaining sources of PM 2.5 and its impact on public health.
Hayashi said that the staff has streamlined processes and transitioned to the electronic processing of documents online.
Community engagement tools have allowed for interactive meetings with stakeholders and the District.
The District has pursued translating public documents and added trained translators in public meetings.
Hayashi mentioned that program evaluation is ongoing, such as improvements to the grant management system, internal control, and payments.
The District has transitioned filter-based PM monitors to real-time units requiring fewer operating resources.
The District has developed a new automated air quality data/monitoring management system that has significantly reduced the time required to perform quality control of air quality data.
Lastly, Hayashi mentioned that the District recommends a new air quality specialist in the air quality analysis division to assist with Clean Air Act mandates.
Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Sheraz Gill said the District Incentive Grant Program sought efficient funding and reductions to emissions.
He said that $65 million is included in the community incentive program, which includes the following:
- $16.7 million for Fireplace/Woodstove Change-Out: Drive Clean in San Joaquin
- $17.7 million for funding for vehicle replacements
- $17.2 million for funding for clean vehicle rebates:
- $12 million for funding for Tune In Tune Up vehicle repairs
- $500,000 for a clean green yard machine (residential)
- $5.7 million for clean green yard machine (commercial)
- $1,000,000 for Vehicle Miles Traveled reduction
The District has allocated $320 million to the Heavy Duty Equipment Program, which includes the following:
- $179.5 million for Agricultural Equipment Replacement
- $25.9 million for Truck Replacement Program
- $41 million for alternative fuel infrastructure
- $3.1 million for an electric agricultural irrigation pump.
- $15 million for low-dust nut harvester equipment replacement
- $15 million for locomotives (railcar movers and switchers).
- $1 million for emergency vehicle replacement
- $5.3 million for electric yard trucks
- $10 million for electric agricultural utility vehicles
- $5 million for dairy feed mixer electrification
- $3 million for off-road engine repower
- $20.6 million for school bus replacement
Under the advanced vehicles, the District has allocated the following:
- $65.9 million for statewide electric transit bus, school bus, and shuttle bus replacement
- $10 million for public benefit grants
- $5 million for Electric Vehicles Charging Infrastructure Program
- $22.9 million for Advanced Technology Truck Demonstration Project.
The District also allocated for the following programs:
- $33.1 million for alternatives to agricultural open burning
- $475,000 for Technology Advancement Program
- $367,800 for Wildfire Smoke Clean Air Centers Program.
The spending plan includes Board-approved Community Emissions Reduction Programs (CERPs) allocations for South Central Fresno, Shafter, Stockton, and Arvin/Lamont, which is $116 million in total funding allocations.
Buchanan states that the California Health and Safety Code Section 40131 requires the following:
- Budget information is available 30 days before the May 18 hearing
- Notification of fee payers of availability of budget information
- 1st hearing May 18 to receive public comment
- 2nd hearing on June 15 to adopt
The District Administrative Code requires the following:
- Air pollution control officer to present the recommended budget to the board by June 30
- The board adopts budget resolution at the object level (except for fixed assets at the sub-object level)
- The board approves transfers between object levels and fixed assets
- The executive director can transfer between accounts within objects (sub-objects for fixed assets)
Buchanan added that the operating appropriations totaled $72.8 million, while the non-operating appropriations are $650.2 million.
Operating appropriations are dedicated to internal costs such as staffing, services, and supplies. Non-operating appropriations are for grants and incentives.
Estimated revenues for the next fiscal year are as follows:
- $20.7 million of permit fee revenues
- $300,000 of Section 185 federal non-attainment penalties
- $2.6 million of Advance Emission Reduction Option (AERO) fees
- $2 million of operating interest
- $200,000 of residential furnaces
- $2.9 million of EPA 105/103 and state subvention grants
- $12.7 million of State AB 617 implementation grant
- $13.6 million of the operating portion of DMV fees
- $10 million of Grant administrative funds earned
- $5 million of transfer to non-operating (Clean Air grants)
- $11.1 million of the fund balance used
- $1.8 million increase in reserves
Kincaid announced the following for the next fiscal year 2023-2024:
- $1.1 million for salaries and benefits
- $164,452 for services and supplies
Lewis asked how contractors can apply for the $5.7 million under the clean green yard machine (commercial).
Sheikh said that the District is relaunching the program due to state funding.
Preciado asked whether the legal services increased by 53 percent. Kincaid said yes.
Dr. Sherriffs said that despite the efforts, the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Cunha urged the ag burn program to continue.
Dietzkamei urged the District to focus on improving air quality in the Valley.
Young sought the District to promote education on climate change and urged elected officials to protect Clean Air Act initiatives.
The budget will be further discussed on June 15, 2023.
The board (15-0) approved items #12-15 of the consent calendar.
12. The board approved action summary minutes for the San Joaquin Valley Unified Governing Board meeting of April 20, 2023
13. The board received and filed a list of scheduled meetings for 2023
14. The board received and filed an operations statistics summary for April 2023
15. The board received and filed budget status reports as of April 30, 2023
5. The board received a report on District Citizens Advisory Committee activities (reported by Manuel Cunha from the Citizen Advisory Committee)
Gill presented the results of the CARB program review of the District administration of state emission reduction incentive programs.
This review was the largest incentive program review ever conducted by CARB and covered eleven fiscal years, nine distinct incentive programs, approximately 13,500 individual projects, and more than $623 million in funding.
The review concluded that the District incentive programs achieved their emissions reduction and program objectives.
6. The board (15-0) accepted and appropriated $18.5 million in additional revenue from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to fund the replacement of low-dust nut harvesters and wood-burning devices (reported by Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung)
On December 8, 2022, the District submitted three proposals to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the highly competitive 2022 Targeted Air Shed Grant Program.
The three applications included the following project proposals:
- Replace nut-harvesting equipment with low-dust nut-harvesting equipment.
- Replace open hearth fireplaces and old wood or pellet burning devices with new, cleaner-emitting burning devices to help reduce PM2.5 emissions in communities within the District’s boundaries.
- Trucks-as-a-service is a concept that facilitates the rapid deployment of heavy-duty battery-electric vehicles in the District’s territory by providing small businesses and carriers with lower upfront costs to access battery-electric heavy-duty vehicles.
On April 5, 2023, EPA informed the District that two proposals were selected for funding.
The District’s low-dust nut harvesting equipment replacement proposal was selected for $10 million, and the wood-burning device change-out program proposal was selected for $8.5 million.
7. The board (15-0) adopted the proposed PM 2.5 Contingency Measure State Implementation Plan revision and amendments to Rule 4901, especially on wood-burning fireplaces and wood-burning heaters (reported by Project Coordinator Jonathan Klassen and Program Manager Emily Kneeland)
On March 17, 2023, at the urging of the District, CARB, and other agencies, EPA published draft guidance on contingency. EPA recently approved rule 4901 as a most stringent measure.
Klassen added that contingency measures would establish progressively more stringent curtailment level(s) within Rule 4901 upon issuance of final EPA approval of contingency state implementation plan revision meeting Clean Air Act requirements for PM2.5 and final determination by EPA that Valley failed to:
- Meet any request for proposal requirement
- Meet any quantitative milestone in the attainment plan
- Submit a quantitative milestone report
- Attain applicable national ambient air quality standards by the applicable attainment date
South Coast rule contains a contingency provision similar to District’s proposed Rule 4901 contingency provision (approved by EPA in April 2022 as PM2.5 contingency).
District Rule 8051 regulates dust from open areas:
- Open Area: vacant portions of residential or commercial lots and contiguous parcels that are immediately adjacent to and owned and operated by the same individual or entity (not applicable to agricultural sources, subject to conservation management practices)
- Current Requirement: For open urban areas greater than 0.5 acres and rural open areas greater than 3.0 acres, if disturbing 1,000 sq. ft. or greater, must ensure soil stability and visible dust emissions no greater than 20% opacity
EPA suggested a potential contingency measure to increase the stringency of Rule 8051 for rural open areas, despite minimal emission reductions.
The proposed contingency SIP revision includes a commitment to consider amendments to lower the rural acreage threshold (e.g., 2 acres) to ensure contingency requirements.
Given stringent District regulations, Klassen added that the federal government is critical in providing necessary actions and resources to reduce emissions under federal control.
Proposed contingency measures conform with draft EPA guidance:
- Significant reductions from District measures fully satisfy fair-share reductions from sources under District jurisdiction
- Lack of additional feasible local/state measures that meet contingency requirement
Contingency Measure SIP Revision and amendments to Rule 4901 prepared through an involved public process with multiple opportunities for public and interested stakeholders to offer comments/suggestions.
8. The board received the verbal report on California Air Resources Board activities (reported by Dr. Pacheco-Werner)
Dr. Pacheco-Werner hoped for further dialogue between the ag industry, the District, and state agencies on the heavy-duty transition to zero emissions and other issues.
9. Executive director comments
Sheikh announced that the District would launch two revamped programs, the Zero-Emissions Landscaping Equipment Program, and the Air Purifier Program.
Closed session consists of:
- Conference with legal counsel – anticipated litigation: significant exposure to litigation (1 potential case)
The meeting ended at 1:00 p.m. The next meeting will be available through Zoom on Thursday, June. 15, 2023.
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