3rd QUARTER 2014
|SCAQMD - PERMIT PROCESSING OVERHAUL
After complaints from industry about how the backlog is impacting business, the SCAQMD decided to convene a working group to try to streamline the permitting process. In a recent presentation to the agency's Stationary Source Committee, staff reported they exceeded the 2013-2014 permit processing goal by completing 2,899 "Permit to Construct" applications. Staff processed 7,736 applications in total which represents only 88% of their goal.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson (a member of the committee) suggested that there should be an automatic approval of a permit if staff does not act within a specific time period after submittal of a complete application. He emphasized that there is a need to reduce the permit application backlog and encouraged staff to use creative approaches to balance the workload better. Other members agreed and suggested hiring additional staff. It was reported that temporary engineering staff has been used in the past, but that takes resources for training. Hiring new engineers has been approved and is under way in the hopes it will alleviate the permit backlog.
Industry suggestions included expanding small business assistance and exempting low emitting equipment from permit requirements.
|CALIFORNIA DROUGHT AND AIR QUALITY
The SCAQMD reports an "upswing in bad air days" resulting from dryness and low winds this past winter. Year 2013 was recorded as the driest year in California since 1877, prompting the Governor to declare a drought emergency for the state.
Southern California's weather and geography contribute to smog formation. The period from May through October is considered "Smog season." The winter rains often clear out the pollution but with only a trace of rain in January, this was not the case. Due to weather conditions, fine particulate levels (harmful to health) have increased. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District also reports more particle pollution due to the drought, which creates more stagnant air that settles pollution closer to the ground.
Agency officials believe the drought could erode air quality gains made in California. The SCAQMD is calling more frequent "no-burn" alerts and encouraging water conservation.
|LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL MAY USURP LANDLORD RIGHTS
At their July meeting, the SCAQMD board voted to remain neutral in legislation which would allow tenants to install electric vehicle charging stations, despite objections from property owners. The vote went against the staff recommendation of a "Support" position.
AB 2565 (Muratsuchi) is currently making its way through the California Legislative process. The bill would allow a commercial or residential tenant to install an electric vehicle charging station in a leased parking space if the tenant is willing to pay for all the costs associated with installation and operation of the charging station.
SCAQMD staff had recommended that the agency weigh in and support the bill. But, citing concerns ranging from violation of property rights to liability in the event of a fire, the board decided not to follow staff's recommendation. Staff commented that at this point, the bill has no opposition and thus, SCAQMD support will not be a factor in the final outcome of the legislative process.
| VOC TEST METHODOLOGY
As its rules get more stringent, the SCAQMD's difficulty in enforcing them has increased. The agency reports that Method 24--the traditional test method approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—is inadequate for low VOC materials.
In collaboration with California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo the agency is attempting to develop a method that would involve extracting semi-volatiles from dried paint films. The district reports to have been already using a gas chromatograph approach in its Method 313 (roughly 40 pages long). However, according to EPA staff, the federal agency has limited resources and is not planning to allocate staff to new test methodologies. This presents a dilemma to the regulated community as the local air district test method is not consistent with the federal agency method.
|OEHHA ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO RISK ASSESSMENTS
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a draft guidance manual to estimate potential lifetime health risks from toxic air contaminants. According to the agency, new scientific findings indicate there is an increase in childhood exposure to and sensitivity to air toxics. Early-life exposures to air toxics contribute to an increased lifetime risk of developing cancer and other adverse health effects, compared to exposures that occur in adulthood.
The agency points to a 1999 state law (SB25 by Sen. Martha Escutia), which requires that the special susceptibility of infants and children be considered in assessing the health risks associated with air toxics. The manual is intended to assist in estimating health risks from air pollution sources as called for under the Air Toxics Hot Spots Information and Assessment Act. The draft guidance manual summarizes three Technical Support Documents focused on non-cancer risk, cancer risk and exposure assessment, respectively. The new methodologies would result in higher estimated risks for many situations than would have been calculated by the existing risk methodology. Agency communications indicate that in some cases, estimated cancer risk would be only slightly higher than the current estimate while in other cases, the new estimated cancer risk could be up to three times higher.
After OEHHA reviews the public comments and makes appropriate changes, the draft Guidance Manual will be reviewed by a Scientific Review Panel (SRP). After approval by the SRP and the Director of OEHHA, the Guidance Manual will be adopted for use by the Air Resources Board and local air districts in the Air Toxics Hot Spots program. The South Coast Air Quality Management Air District (SCAQMD) listed the assessment of OEHHAs revised guidelines for implementation as a future activity in a July 2014 report to their Governing Board.
The complete manual can be found at the following link:
|RULE 1168 -- ADHESIVE AND SEALANT APPLICATIONS
The SCAQMD is in the process of holding public consultation meetings regarding proposed changes to their Adhesives rule (Rule 1168). The proposal has generated a robust discussion between the agency who proposes to lower limits down to 20 grams per liter for some categories, and industry representatives who argue it will cost millions to reformulate products—an unwelcome event during tough economic times.
Other sources of controversy are: 1) the SCAQMD's proposal to regulate consumer products, currently not addressed by the California Air Resources Board (the agency which typically regulates said products) under the rule and 2) the proposed exemption of tertiary butyl acetate and dimethyl carbonate from roofing regulated products.
The rule currently controls Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from the use of adhesives and sealants used by stationary and industrial area sources. Both commercial and consumer uses are regulated. Operations subject to the rule include: assembly of corrugated boxes, motor vehicle parts and accessories, motor homes, metal and wood office furniture, pen and mechanical pencil parts, tire retreading and repairs, hardwood veneers, plastic foam products, wood office furniture and shelving, wood kitchen cabinets, fabricated metal parts and products, household furniture, electronic components and accessories, industrial machinery and fabricated textile products. According to SCAQMD staff reports, the commercial sector of the adhesives market is largely architecturally based such as: indoor and outdoor carpeting, carpet pad, wood flooring, ceramic tile, dry wall, paneling, subfloor, rubber floor, cove base, vinyl composition tile (VCT) and asphalt tile, single-ply roof membrane adhesives and most of the plastic pipe welding and priming applications.
Under the new proposal, VOC limits would go down to 20 grams per liter effective January 1, 2016, for the following categories:
- Carpet Pad Adhesive
- Ceramic Tile Adhesive
- Cove Base Adhesive
- Indoor Flooring Adhesive
- Outdoor Floor Covering Adhesive
- Rubber Floor Adhesive
- VCT and Asphalt Tile Adhesive
Limits for Dry Wall and Panel Adhesive, Multi-Purpose Construction Adhesive and Structural Glazing Adhesive would go down to 40 grams per liter effective 1/1/16 and to 50 grams per liter for Structural Wood Member Adhesives. There is another reduction to 20 grams/liter for Multi-Purpose Construction Adhesives by 1/1/2018.
|RULE 1113 - ARCHITECTURAL COATINGS
The Architectural Coatings rule (Rule 1113) was first adopted by the SCAQMD in 1977. There have been over two dozen amendments since the date of adoption. The 2011 amendments included additional restrictions and lower VOC limits for colorants (which became effective on 1/1/14) added at the point of sale.
The agency now proposes to:
- Lower VOC limits for "high volume categories" namely flat, non-flat and Primers/ Sealers/ Undercoaters (PSUs).
- Eliminate or limit the Small Container Exemption.
- Impose new transfer efficiency requirements.
- Limit the types of faux finishes or glazes that are available on the market.
According to industry representatives, the air district will likely attempt to lower the current flat, nonflat, and primer VOC limits to 25 g/l from 50g/l, 50 g/l and 100 g/l, respectively. While many current interior flat and nonflat coatings would likely meet the 25 g/l limit, exterior flat and nonflat coatings may not, according to the coatings manufacturers' industry group. While drywall primers may be able to meet the 25 g/l, other primers for metal and wood may not.
Industry groups are also concerned with the potential elimination of the exemption for small containers, claiming it provides the only "safety valve" or "last-resort option" that allows for the use of traditional products for challenging applications.
The proposal contemplates a two-phase approach to achieve greater transfer efficiency from the application of architectural coatings. The first phase will be to incorporate laser paint targeting or other available technology into spray guns to increase transfer efficiency. The second phase would include transfer efficiency provisions requiring that architectural coatings be applied by hand applications such as brush, roller, sponge, or trowel; or by high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) spray or other technology capable of achieving a transfer efficiency equivalent (65%) or better than HVLP spray. This move is being perceived by some in the regulated community as an attempt by the district to regulate contractors.
The current definition of "Faux Finish Glazes" in Rule 1113 states that glazes are "coatings designed for wet-in-wet techniques used to create artistic effects, including… dirt, old age, smoke damage, simulated marble and wood grain finishes…." According to industry representatives, many glaze products on the market are labeled for application involving a glaze mixture over a dry, properly prepared painted surface and faux techniques are then used to create the desired appearance. Impacted businesses have expressed concern over the lack of definition for the term "wet-in-wet" and the implication that most faux finish products would fall under the "Faux Finish Glaze" category.
The rule changes would likely be adopted in 2015 and take effect in 2018.
|NATURAL GAS FIRED FURNACES NOX REGULATIONS
Proposed amendment to Rule 1111- NOx Emissions from Natural-Gas-Fired Fan-Type Central Furnaces would provide a six month delay in the compliance date for condensing furnaces and would add a mitigation option to allow the sale of non-compliant furnaces for up to three years.
The six month compliance delay was proposed in response to industry comments that implementation during the peak season would be problematic. Manufacturers have raised concerns that the additional cost of manufacturing compliant furnaces might delay consumer purchases and that the mitigation fee was too high. According to SCAQMD, the mitigation fee is designed to provide compliance flexibility, but not to penalize those with compliant products. Manufacturers would have ten months of sell-through beyond the implementation date.
The changes would also create an "incentive" program with rebates offered for early compliance.
|REASONABLE AVAILABLE CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
The SCAQMD is required to submit a Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) demonstration to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and from CARB to U.S. EPA by July 20, 2012. The RACT demonstration examines existing SCAQMD rules and compares them to U.S. EPA guidance documents and existing rules elsewhere in California and the rest of the country to determine whether the most current control techniques are being implemented to maximize emissions reductions.
The staff's analysis concluded that SCAQMD rules meet RACT criteria. The RACT analysis commits to further evaluate SCAQMD rules for sources in six emissions categories relative to rules adopted by other California agencies to provide clarity in rule interpretation and implementation practices. Submission of the analysis would not be an impediment to development of new rules to be incorporated in the 2016 Air Quality Management Plan assessment. The district has identified Rule 1113 (Architectural Coatings) and Rule 1130 (Graphic Arts) as areas to be explored for further analysis.
|CALIFORNIA CLIMATE CHANGE SCOPING PLAN UPDATE
The Air Resources Board recently released an update to the Climate Change Scoping Plan. The document defines ARB's priorities for the next five years, sets the groundwork to reach long-term goals and evaluates how to align the State's "longer-term" Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction strategies with other State policy priorities for water, waste, natural resources, clean energy, transportation and land use.
The update identifies the next steps in California's climate change policy making. According to ARB, "While California continues on its path to meet the near-term 2020 greenhouse gas limit, it must also set a clear path toward long-term, deep GHG emission reductions. This report highlights California's success to date in reducing its GHG emissions and lays the foundation for establishing a broad framework for continued emission reductions beyond 2020, on the path to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."
Specifically, topics include:
- An update of the latest scientific findings related to climate change and its impacts, including short-lived climate pollutants.
- A review of progress-to-date, including an update of Scoping Plan measures and other state, federal and local efforts to reduce GHG emissions in California.
- Potential technologically feasible and cost-effective actions to further reduce GHG emissions by 2020.
- Recommendations for establishing a mid-term emissions limit that aligns with the State's long-term goal of an emission limit 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
- Sector-specific discussions covering issues, technologies, needs and ongoing State activities to significantly reduce emissions throughout California's economy through 2050.
- Priorities and recommendations for investment to support market and technology development and necessary infrastructure in key areas.
- A discussion of the ongoing work and continuing need for improved methods and tools to assess economic, public health and environmental justice impacts.
- New emphasis on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (black carbon, methane and hydrofluorocarbons).
ARB identified six key focus areas comprising major components of the State's economy to evaluate and describe actions that will be needed to meet the State's more expansive emission reduction by 2050.
The focus areas include:
- Energy (including the industrial sector)
- Transportation (Vehicles/Equipment, Sustainable Communities, Housing, Fuels and Infrastructure)
- Waste Management
- Natural and Working Lands
In the initial Scoping Plan, the industry sector (including cement plants, refineries, power plants, glass manufacturers and oil and gas production facilities) was discussed in a separate sector. However, in this update it has been included within the energy-sector discussion because the ARB believes the GHG emissions from the industrial sector, about 20 percent of the state's total GHG emissions, are primarily due to energy use.
Some of the proposed requirements for the State's electric and energy utilities to achieve near-zero GHG emissions by 2050 include: disclosure of energy use, accounting for the carbon intensity and air quality impacts of various energy resources, generation technologies, and associated fuels, reducing emissions of smog-forming pollutants by about 90 percent below 2010 levels by 2032, recordkeeping and reporting mechanisms to monitor and enforce the GHG emission reduction requirements and including mandatory provisions that reduce GHG emissions in the Green Building Standards Code.