Documented by Josef Sibala

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • At its meeting on Oct. 19, the Valley Air Governing Board approved the Zero-Emission Heavy-Duty Truck Demonstration Project with OK Produce. The project will deploy 50 zero-emission battery electric Volvo trucks fast-charging infrastructure to OK Produce South-Central Fresno facility.
  • The board authorized an incentive program for noncombustion alternatives to open burning of raisin trays. The program would help raisin growers to transition to no-burning alternatives such as recycling or waste disposal.
  • The board adopted emissions inventory, precursor demonstration and BACM analysis for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard. Executive Director Sheikh said federal funding and technology are necessary to implement the PM2.5 Standard.
  • During public comment, Manuel Cunha said he hopes the board and Executive Director Samir Sheikh will discuss with CARB how to help existing farmworkers and truckers affected by the transition to electric. 
  • Perry Elerts asked the district to update its emissions inventory to account for recent studies clarifying that soil NOx emission is greater than the inventory states. He added that the district cannot cite scientific uncertainties to evade a statutory duty to update regulations. 

Follow-up questions:

  • How will the district reduce emissions through the PM2.5 Standard?
  • When will the district include health impacts in their studies?
  • How can the district address conditions in the AB 617 communities?

The Scene

According to its website, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) is comprised 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 Valley Air District Board includes a 15-member governing board of representatives from the boards 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 Oct. 19, 2023, at 9 a.m. at 1990 E Gettysburg Ave. in Fresno.

Officials present:

  • Chair and Supervisor for Stanislaus County: Vito Chiesa
  • Vice Chair and Council member for Los Banos: Deborah Lewis 
  • Supervisor for Fresno County: Buddy Mendes 
  • Supervisor for Merced County: Lloyd Pareira  
  • Supervisor for Madera County: Brian Macaulay
  • Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer: Samir Sheikh 
  • Supervisor for Kern County: David Couch 
  • Supervisor for San Joaquin County: Robert Rickman 
  • Alexander C. Sherriffs, M.D., appointed by governor
  • Mayor for Avenal: Alvaro Preciado 
  • Supervisor for Kings County: Rusty Robinson
  • Council member for Wasco: Gilberto Reyna
  • Council member for Modesto: Rosa Escutia-Braaton
  • Supervisor for Tulare County: Amy Shuklian
  • Tania Pacheco-Werner, Ph.D. appointed by governor 

Officials not present:

  • Mayor for Clovis Drew M. Bessinger 

Others present:

  • Connie Young
  • Janet Dietzkamei
  • Ed Ward
  • Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung
  • Project Coordinator Jonathan Klassen
  • President of Nisei Farmers League Manuel Cunha 
  • Program Manager Aaron Tarango
  • Brandon Crayget 
  • Samuel Delk 
  • Dr. James Instram
  • Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera
  • Permit Services Mark Montelongo
  • Perry Elerts


The board (12-0) approved items 16-26 of the consent calendar. 

16) The board approved action summary minutes for the San Joaquin Valley Unified Governing Board meeting of Thursday, Sept. 21.

17) The board received and filed a list of scheduled meetings for 2023. 

18) The board received and filed a summary of rules and plans. 

19) The board received and filed an operations statistics summary for September. 

20) The board received and filed budget status reports as of Sept. 30.

21) The board adopted the proposed District Rule 3171, a federally mandated ozone nonattainment fee.

22) The board amended the 2023-24 Non-Operating Budget to adjust estimated amounts to actual amounts as of June 30.

23) The board received and filed a listing of refunds for fiscal year 2022-23.

24) The board received and filed quarterly updates to the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) Clearinghouse. 

25) The board received appointments to the district’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group. 

26) The board appointed Regional Hearing Board members as recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee.

In public comments, a Modesto resident, Ed Ward, asked for a single point of contact on the issuance of trucks. 

Connie Young informed the board about the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act and the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. She said that most residents in Fresno are concerned about rising temperatures, unpredictable weather, water scarcity and air pollution.

Janet DietzKamei added that agricultural practices to adapt to changing climate are necessary to address climate vulnerabilities. 

7) The board received the report on district citizen’s advisory committee activities. 

President of Nisei Farmers League Manuel Cunha added that the district citizen’s advisory committee positions have been filled. He said the number of trucks in the Valley will not affect Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego. However, the CARB 2024 ruling will affect Orosco, Porterville, Orange Cove and rural communities, which cover pre-2010 trucks with three-tier engines. 

He added that no plans to help existing farmworkers and truckers affected were mentioned during the California Air Resources Board meeting, while the transition to electric was on the agenda.

During the meeting, he shared that CARB is asking farmworkers and truckers to convert to electric or buy a diesel truck made after 2012. He said he  hopes the board and Sheikh will discuss how to help existing farmworkers and truckers affected by the transition to electric with CARB. He said that it is a great concern for agriculture. 

He mentioned that the environmental justice community is dictating the process rather than rural communities.

8) The board (12-0) authorized an incentive program for noncombustion alternatives to open burning of raisin trays.

Program Manager Aaron Tarango added that by implementing state law under SB 705, the district (with CARB concurrence) has adopted prohibitions that have significantly reduced open burning.The final phase-out strategy adopted in 2021 establishes deadlines for remaining ag-burning categories by the end of 2024

Since adopting the district’s final phase-out strategy, the Valley has seen a tremendous reduction in open burning by adopting new practices. 

The district is on track to achieving a 90% reduction in burning from historical levels by the end of 2023

The practice of burning raisin trays decreased over the last decade as growers transitioned newer planted acreage to more sustainable harvesting alternatives. 

Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 acres of harvested acres burned on average in recent years, with less than 2,000 acres in 2022

To assist raisin growers facing an impending phase-out deadline, the board approved a pilot program in 2022 to support the transition to nonburning alternatives such as recycling or waste disposal.

The proposed program to be available to growers for the 2023 harvest season, ahead of the raisin tray burning phase-out deadline of Jan. 1, 2024, includes:

  • A minimum of 50% of program funds reserved for small growers (up to 100 acres

farmed throughout the Valley)

  • Institute $2,000 per-entity cap for all farming operations with over 100 total acres farmed throughout the Valley
  • The funding level of $35 per acre (not to exceed the total cost of a nonburning alternative)
  • Administer on a first-come-first-served basis through an easy-to-access rebate process.
  • Authorize total program allocation of $75,000 for fiscal year 2023-24 (includes fiscal year 2022-23 allocation of $40,000)

Macaulay asked whether the rollover of $40,000 had been expended. Tarango said that a small amount of $40,000 was spent. 

Sheikh added that the program allows larger raisin grower participation while maintaining the 50% minimum for small growers. 

Preciado asked about the challenges of recycling the raisin trays. Tarango said that the logistics remain the issue. 

Sheikh said the issue is when chemicals such as polymers and other substances are in the tray.

Lewis asked about the more approved process by CARB and other agencies. Sheikh said that mechanical harvesting is an option.

Manuel Cunha said that the acreage of raisin grapes is decreasing due to costs and regulations. 

9) The board (12-0) approved the Zero-Emission Heavy-Duty Truck Demonstration Project with OK Produce.

Project Coordinator Todd DeYoung said that the program is paid for with CARB Low CarbonTransportation (Cap and Trade) Funding and CEC Clean Transportation Program funds.

The program supports large-scale deployments of on-road, zero-emission Class 8 drayage and regional haul trucks and the necessary zero-emission vehicle charging infrastructure for service operation.

The projects are intended to reduce criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in and around freight facilities and ports and provide economic, environmental, and public health benefits to disadvantaged and low-income communities.

In February 2021, the district submitted two proposals to CARB/CEC Zero-Emission Drayage Truck and Infrastructure Pilot Project solicitation. The district deployed 50 zero-emission battery-electric Class 8 Tesla semi trucks and installed supporting fast-charging infrastructure and energy storage at the Pepsi Beverages Company facility.

The district deployed 50 zero-emission, battery electric Class 8 Volvo electric trucks and installed supporting fast-charging infrastructure at a large distribution center operated by Albertsons in Tracy.

In January 2022, the district was informed that both proposals were selected for full funding for a total award of $36.5 million. In February 2022, the board approved staff recommendations to accept and appropriate funding from CARB/CEC and administer projects.

The district has executed agreements for Pepsi Beverages Co. zero-emission demonstration project – project is underway.

In late 2022, the district was notified that Albertsons declined to move forward with the project due to a change in direction within the organization.

Technology providers have worked with district and funding agencies over the past several months to secure new partners to participate in the project.

OK Produce was identified as a potential partner for several reasons:

  • Commitment to retire 50 diesel trucks and deploy 50 zero-emission electric trucks
  • Existing electric truck demonstration activities
  • Location in the South Central Fresno AB 617 community
  • Routes that serve San Joaquin Valley and beyond
  • Existing availability of necessary electric power at their facility to support associated vehicle charging infrastructure

The project will deploy 50 zero-emission battery electric Volvo trucks, fast charging infrastructure at OK Produce South-Central Fresno facility (AB 617 Community).

Goals include the following:

  • Reducing criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants and GHGs in and around freight facilities and truck routes, 
  • Better understanding of fleet dynamics when deploying a large number of zero-emission trucks and infrastructure,
  • Supporting zero-emission heavy-duty truck manufacturers in realizing economies of scale  

Full project deployment is expected to be completed by 2025. Upon full deployment, more than 50% of the OK Produce truck fleet will be zero-emission

OK Produce committing:

  • Total of more than $15.4 million
  • $8.5 million in cash
  • $6.9 million in in-kind contributions

Remaining match from grant funding available through the Truck Replacement Program and Clean Vehicle Fueling Infrastructure Program

Project Partners include OK Produce, Volvo Technology of America, Burns and McDonnell, Momentum, CALSTART, Affinity, Inc., Valley Vision and ChargerHelp, Inc.

The board approved a zero-emission heavy-duty truck demonstration project with OK.

Produce under funding appropriation previously approved by the Governing Board for this project.

The board authorized the executive director/air pollution control officer (APCO), on behalf of the board, to negotiate and enter into agreements with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC) to accept and administer this funding.

With the executive director’s recommendation, the board authorized the board chair to negotiate and execute any agreements with project proponents and subcontractors, as necessary, to administer this funding.

Robinson asked about the charging. DeYoung said that the truck ranges from 300 miles, has a fast charge at 80% per hour and the torque exceeds that of a conventional diesel truck.

In response to Pacheco-Werner, Sheikh said integrating solar, battery and the infrastructure through microgrids has potential despite the cost. 

Escutia-Braaton asked whether the timeline for the program is doable. DeYoung said that the time is sufficient.

In response to Escutia-Braaton, DeYoung said that the OK Produce location in Fresno means trucks will run with a large mileage. 

Cunha suggested collaboration with CARB to provide diesel trucks to rural communities. 

Young suggested converting existing trucks to electric.

10) The board (12-0) adopted emissions inventory, precursor demonstration and BACM analysis for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard 

Project Coordinator Jonathan Klassen said that in May 2023, the district and CARB submitted contingency SIP revision to EPA to address recent EPA disapprovals associated with adverse court decisions against EPA, including amendments to District Rule 4901 (Wood Burning Fireplaces and Wood Burning Heaters) to incorporate contingency measures.

In August 2023,  District Rule 8051 (open areas) was amended to include contingency measures. The EPA published a proposed Contingency Measure Federal Implementation Plan in August 2023, consistent with District/CARB submissions.

Timely EPA approval of submissions will be critical to avoid the imposition of highway sanctions and the final Federal Implementation Plan in December 2023. CARB also plans to adopt a smog check contingency measure in October 2023 to contribute towards PM2.5 contingency requirements. 

In July 2023, the EPA proposed approval of plan elements for this standard. The district is working with the EPA to secure final approval of SIP revisions submitted by CARB and the district in 2021.

Sanctions clocks associated with EPA’s previous disapproval in November 2021 would be addressed by EPA approval of the district and CARB’s 2021 plan revision

In parallel, the district compiled and sent to EPA exceptional events and data collection documentation to demonstrate attainment of the 1997 annual PM2.5 Standard and will continue this analysis over the coming year based on the most recent data.

The district attained the PM10 Standard and 1997 24-hour PM2.5 Standard and is working to develop plans to demonstrate ongoing maintenance of these standards to be officially redesignated to attainment status.

The district continues to track EPA’s proposed revision of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM2.5 to even more stringent levels, announced in January 2023.

Once promulgated, the revised standard would trigger a timeline for new planning actions, including requirements for the district to prepare an attainment plan for the new standard, building upon previous PM2.5 planning efforts.

Attainment of federal standards is only viable with significant reductions in emissions from mobile sources, primarily under state and federal jurisdiction.

Emissions must be reduced from mobile sources that fall exclusively under federal jurisdiction (interstate heavy-duty trucks, locomotives and other mobile sources). 

The district continues to advocate for state and federal action and pursue additional funding opportunities to achieve emission reductions from mobile sources.

1. The board adopted the proposed Initial SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard

2. The board authorized the chair to sign the attached resolution adopting the proposed Initial SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard

3. The board directed staff to forward the adopted Initial SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard and attached Resolution to CARB for approval and submittal to EPA

Sheikh said the federal funding and technology necessary to implement the PM2.5 Standard.

In response to Pacheco-Werner, Klassen said that feedback focused on building electrification during the workshop. 

Pacheco-Warner suggested discussions between the district, CARB and the EPA.

Robinson asked whether EPA and CARB are measuring the Pacific and the Bay Area pollution. Sheikh said that they measure to a certain extent.

In response to Lewis, Sheikh said that the district has the most stringent measures, yet neighboring regions have regulations with various emission sources. 

Brandon Crayget said that the locomotive regulation from CARB is not feasible and added that China should be accountable for its coal emissions.

Samuel Delk said that constantly new policies and stringent regulations would impact the agricultural and transportation industry. 

Young added that the health impact of PM2.5 should be included in the report. She suggested a tax and tariff on carbon.

Perry Elerts asked the district to update its emissions inventory to account for recent studies clarifying that soil NOx emission is greater than the inventory states. He added that the district must find a way to cite scientific uncertainties to evade a statutory duty to update regulations. 

Dr. James Instram said there were no adverse effects of PM2.5 in California and requested that the board delay approval of the standard. 

Janet Dietzkamei added that she has suffered from air pollution. She said that PM2.5 is causing her to have infections. Thomas Menz urged the district to ban unnecessary residential wood burning. 

Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera said that the district must address soil NOx and regulate ammonia. 

Sherriffs said that science on PM2.5 has been changing and is advanced. 

11) The board received and filed the 2023 annual report on the district’s Indirect Source Review Program. 

Mark Montelongo of Permit Services said that for the Indirect Source Review Rule (ISR), the district was the first in the nation to adopt “indirect source” requirements to help mitigate emissions from new development projects.

“Indirect sources” are development projects that attract new mobile source emissions, such as commuting, truck fleets and off-road construction equipment. The requirements aim to reduce project-related construction and operational NO and PM emissions.

ISR promotes the incorporation of clean-air features in project design

– If required reductions are not achieved through on-site measures, the developer pays an off-site fee for the remaining required reductions.

On-site measures are preferred over off-site fees. All off-site fees collected by the district fund emissions reduction projects in the Valley.

Development projects must receive discretionary land use approval from a public agency: Large development projects require land use approval from a public lead agency such as cities and counties.

Under the IS Emission Reduction Requirements, developers subject to the rule must submit an air impact analysis and reduce emissions on the following.

  • Construction equipment fleet emissions
  • NOx: 20% emissions reductions (beyond California fleet average)
  • PM10: 45% emissions reductions (beyond California fleet average)
  • Operational emissions (area and mobile sources)

Funds are invested in cost-effective clean-air projects in the Valley through the district’s incentive programs:

According to the 2023 Annual IS Report, the District received 360 project applications. Moreover, reductions from on-site project design elements numbered 2,705 tons

Meanwhile, reductions from off-site mitigation fees total 2,536 tons. $12.2 million was collected in 2022-23. 

The district continues to conduct outreach to land use agencies to assist project developers in complying with IS requirements.Project design improvements and building practices have shown that over 20,000 tons of emissions have been eliminated from on-site project design elements.

Off-site mitigation through IS and VERA has resulted in $162 million in off-site mitigation fees invested in clean-air projects, 15,800 emission-reduction incentive projects and 18,600 tons of total emissions reductions.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) recently adopted a warehouse IS rule to target operational mobile source emissions. The rule applies to new and existing warehouses greater than 100,000 f2. In contrast, the district’s ISR rule applies to new construction and operational emissions from various development types (i.e., residential, warehouses and other non-residential).

The approach is similar to the district’s IS rule in that it requires clean-air project design elements to reduce NOx and particulate emissions and payment of a mitigation fee, if necessary, to achieve the remaining rule requirements.

The rule is currently under litigation by the CA Trucking Association and Airlines for America. EPA recently proposed approval of the SCAQMD rule but said a decision in the pending litigation may shape their final action on the rule

The district continues to monitor the lawsuit and will evaluate the outcome as potential future IS enhancements are considered to the extent allowed under state and federal regulations and case law.

The district implemented reductions through the aforementioned offsite mitigation fees.

Staff evaluation of fees is critical in ensuring future ISR funds are sufficient to achieve the required emission reductions under ISR.

The mitigation fee since 2008 is $9,350 per ton of NOx and $9,011/ton of PM10. The cost of IS reductions through funding clean-air projects has increased as more clean alternative technologies become available. As such, the cost-effectiveness is expected to continue to increase.

The average over the last two years has been $26,285 per ton. As a point of reference, the minimum cost effectiveness for the Carl Moyer program is $34,000/ton.

The administrative fee since 2006 is 4%, which is lower than all other grant programs that the district and other air districts administer, as other administrative fees range from 6.25% to 15%.

In response to Chiesa, Sheikh said that the court case on the Southwest ISR has been ongoing for six months. 

Elerts urged staff to include information compliance and implementation of the ISR rule in their future report, along with air impact assessment. He asked that the district comment letters on CEQA projects be released.

Pinto-Cabrera stressed the need for the district to be transparent, and expressed concerns about warehouses, particularly an increase in truck traffic. 

12) The board (12-0) appointed an ad hoc governing board subcommittee to nominate the 2024 governing board chair and vice chair. 

The subcommittee members appointed are as follows:

  • David Couch
  • Buddy Mendes
  • Pacheco Werner
  • Deborah Lewis
  • Tania Pacheco-Werner
  • Vito Chiesa

The meeting ended at 1 p.m. The next meeting will be available through Zoom on Dec. 21. The board will be holding a study session Nov. 29 and 30.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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