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Earlier this year, SCAQMD proposed Rule 120 - Credible Evidence - which would allow the agency to establish violations by any "credible evidence," and not solely by an applicable test method. Several SCAQMD rules specify methods that shall be used to demonstrate compliance. PR 120 would state that any credible evidence could be used for compliance determination. PR 120 would allow compliance staff to issue a Notice of Violation to any person who has violated or is in violation of a plan, order, permit, rule, regulation, or law, based on credible evidence. It would allow a source to use credible evidence for contesting allegations of noncompliance.

The District held a public workshop to solicit comments from stakeholders. Due to the strong opposition by industry, the District has recently decided to set aside Rule 120 indefinitely.



At its May 2018 meeting, the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board adopted amendments to Rule 408—Circumvention. Under federal regulations, facilities cannot conceal an emission that would constitute noncompliance with a relevant standard. The federal regulations authorize states, and in turn, air districts, to adopt their own circumvention regulations. Rule 408 prohibits the construction, installation, or use of any equipment or technique designed to conceal emissions without a concurrent reduction in the release of air contaminants to the atmosphere.

The language was changed to indicate circumventing a "law, regulation, rule, permit, order, or plan required by a rule" constitutes a violation of Rule 408. The previous rule language stated that circumventing the Health and Safety Code or SCAQMD rules constituted a violation. The changes limit the existing exemption to cases in which the only violation is an odor nuisance. According to the staff report, field inspections found facilities attempting to use the exemption to violate SCAQMD rules. As a result, the exemption is being limited to only include mitigating nuisance odors. Alterations to normal business operations or equipment to suppress emissions for the purpose of evading detection or concealing emissions during monitoring or testing is now expressly prohibited. "This is to address facilities that might, for example, block emission stacks, reduce their throughput, redirect throughput to other locations, or block monitors during monitoring or testing," stated the staff report.


AB 617

California Assembly Bill 617 (Garcia) became law last year. It requires "community-focused" emissions reduction programs to reduce exposure to air pollution in disproportionately burdened communities throughout the state. The measure requires local air districts to take specific actions to reduce air pollution and toxic air contaminants from commercial and industrial sources. The legislation includes requirements for:

  • Accelerated installation of pollution controls on industrial sources,
  • Expanded air quality monitoring within communities,
  • Increased penalties for violations of emission control standards, and
  • Public access to air quality and emissions data through enhanced online web tools.

The law requires that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the air districts work with local residents to identify what information is already available and what additional data needs to be collected to understand air quality in their communities. This includes reviewing community-based air quality monitoring done by air districts and community members themselves. According to a recent report by CARB, lower cost sensors and other emerging monitoring technologies are being considered in lieu of "more expensive regulatory-grade monitoring systems in place today." Agencies plan to make air quality data from community-operated and agency-operated regulatory monitoring available to the public through online tools.

CARB must set the overall requirements for the program in a statewide strategy and monitoring plan by October 1, 2018. CARB has established the Community Air Protection Program (CAPP) to implement the requirements of the law. The first step is to identify communities for "focused action." CARB expects to select up to 10 communities in the first year of the program, with the majority selected for community emissions reduction programs, many of which may also include an associated monitoring component.

Once the selection by CARB is complete, local air districts must develop local community emissions reduction programs in partnership with community members, CARB and other stakeholders. The community emissions reduction programs will reflect the benefits of existing measures to reduce air pollution and must include new actions (e.g., regulations, enforcement, incentives) to further reduce air pollution disparities within these communities. The air districts' deadline to adopt the community emissions reduction programs is October 1, 2019.

Air districts will establish local community steering committees composed primarily of individuals who live, work, or own businesses within communities designated for focused action through community emissions reduction programs and community air monitoring. Additional members will include air district staff and participants from schools, land use planning agencies, transportation agencies, local health departments and academic researchers. CARB staff will participate as observers and provide technical support and other input as appropriate. The program envisions incentives for small businesses that are part of the community to support efforts to reduce emissions and outreach efforts to connect small business owners to available resources and funding opportunities.

Under AB 617, local air district must adopt an expedited Best Available Retrofit Control Technology (BARCT) implementation schedule for certain source categories by January 1, 2019. BARCT is an air emission limit that applies to existing source categories and is the maximum degree of emissions reduction achievable, taking into account environmental, energy and economic impacts for each class or category of sources. BARCT is to be fully implemented on all affected sources by no later than December 31, 2023.
Local air districts are to work with communities to develop and implement the community emissions reduction programs and conduct community air monitoring, to adopt and enforce local regulations and other programs to reduce emissions in these communities, and to annually report on progress. The South Coast Air Quality Management District recently held a public workshop where they announced they have identified approximately 17 priority communities. They expect two to four of those communities will be selected for the first year of the program and the remaining will be incorporated in phases after the first year. The focus will be on reducing levels of fine particles and minimizing exposure to air toxics such as diesel exhaust, benzene, and toxic metals.



Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a guidance memorandum withdrawing the "once in always in" policy for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants. Major sources are those that emit or have the potential to emit 10 tons per year or more of any single hazardous air pollutant, or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of hazardous air pollutants. In a 1995 memo, EPA established a "once in always in" policy which determined that any facility subject to major source standards would always remain subject to those standards, even if production processes changed or controls were implemented that eliminated or permanently reduced that facility's potential to emit hazardous air pollutants.

The Trump Administration has reversed the decades old policy and issued new guidance that allows sources of hazardous air pollutants previously classified as "major sources" to be reclassified as "area" sources when the facility limits its potential to emit below major source thresholds.

"This guidance is based on a plain language reading of the statute that is in line with EPA's guidance for other provisions of the Clean Air Act," said Bill Wehrum, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "It will reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states, while continuing to ensure stringent and effective controls on hazardous air pollutants." According to an EPA statement, the "once in always in" policy has been a longstanding disincentive for sources to implement voluntary pollution abatement and prevention efforts, or to pursue technological innovations that would reduce hazardous air pollution emissions.

California has filed a lawsuit against EPA, arguing that it is illegal for EPA to repeal a longstanding policy that requires major sources of hazardous air pollutants to permanently take action to reduce their emissions.



The South Coast Air Quality Management District regulations require applicants to use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for new sources, relocated sources, and modifications to existing sources that may result in an emission increase of any nonattainment air contaminants, any ozone depleting compounds (ODC), or ammonia. The agency is required to periodically publish BACT Guidelines that establish the procedures and the BACT requirements for commonly permitted equipment.

At a recent meeting of the BACT Scientific Advisory Committee, staff announced the following changes to the Guidelines:

  • Proposed updates to Parts A and C, Policy and Procedures for Major and Non-Major Polluting Facilities:
    • Incorporate SCAQMD Energy Policy by reference
  • Proposed updates to Part B, Major Polluting Facilities:
  • Equipment

    Proposed Requirement

    External Floating Roof Storage Tank

    Dome installation

    Gas Turbine (combined cycle/simple cycle) natural gas/Landfill/Digester Gas

    2ppm NOx CC/2.5ppm NOx SC/12.5ppm NOx LFG/18.8ppm NOx DG

    Gas Turbine (Combined Cycle) natural gas (Virginia State APCB)

    1ppm CO 3 hr. avg. w/o duct burner / 1.6ppm CO with duct burner

  • Proposed New/Updates to Part D, Non-Major Polluting Facilities:
  • Equipment

    Proposed Requirement

    Thermal Oxidizer

    30 ppm NOx - Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer/Catalytic Oxidizer/Direct Fired Afterburner

    Fryer - Deep Fat

    Integrated 30ppm NOx and Non-Integrated 60ppm NOx Afterburner oil heater

    Composting Green Waste Operations

    Compliance with Rule 1133.3

    Dryer or Oven - Tenter Frame Fabric Dryer

    Compliance with Rule 1147; 30ppm NOx

    Soil Vapor Extraction

    Compliance with Rule 1147; 60ppm NOx

    Boiler ≥20MM Btu/hr and <75

    Compliance with Rule 1146; 5ppm NOx

    Printing (Graphic Arts) - Lithographic or Offset, Heatset

    Correction-  include venting to afterburner in PM10 column and “Same As Above” for Non-Heatset should refer to Low VOC Fountain Solution not Venting to afterburner

    Spray Booth

    Correction of 660 lbs/month VOC limit to 667 lbs/month to be consistent with permit condition for exemption from offsets

    Staff plans to bring the proposed changes to the Board for adoption in the next few months.



Dozens of business representatives associated with the metal finishing industry showed up to testify before SCAQMD's Board to express strong opposition to Proposed Amended Rule (PAR) 1469 - Hexavalent Chromium Emissions from Chromium Electroplating and Chromic Acid Anodizing Operations. There were so many speakers that the public testimony time was shortened from the usual three minutes to 30 seconds per speaker.

Rule 1469 currently establishes requirements to control hexavalent chromium from electroplating and chromic acid anodizing operations. PAR 1469 proposes new requirements to control hexavalent chromium-containing tanks that are currently not regulated. In addition, PAR 1469 establishes requirements for building enclosures, housekeeping and best management practices, periodic source testing and parameter monitoring of pollution control equipment. The rule includes a revised chemical fume suppressant certification process. It contains provisions to encourage the elimination of hexavalent chromium and adds language to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Chromium Electroplating.

The environmental community is also opposed to the proposal citing the need for ambient air monitoring and Permanent Total Enclosures (PTE). They asked for a phase-out of hexavalent chromium for decorative plating whenever an alternative is available and for consideration of incentives for facilities to switch to alternatives. Environmentalists argued that the currently certified chemical fume suppressants (used to reduce hexavalent chromium emissions) are more toxic than hexavalent chromium and are therefore not a viable solution. Staff responded that consideration of any ban is better addressed at State level and that alternatives may have limitations.

Industry representatives commented that the rule was not based on science and purported emission reductions would come at a heavy price. SCAQMD staff agreed that local businesses forced to use alternatives could lose ability to compete statewide and nationally with facilities plating with hexavalent chromium. Various business representatives stated that the industry has reduced hexavalent chromium significantly and has even received "Clean Air Awards" from the District and thus should not be subjected to further regulation. They commented that the industry is important to aerospace and is required to use hexavalent chromium based on customer requirements. They also pointed out that existing air pollution control systems are testing below the emission limits and costly proposed emission testing is not warranted. They asked for additional staff analysis of source controls and economics.

Staff recommends conducting a pilot study and technology assessment for alternatives to hexavalent chromium for all applications, support statewide efforts to phase-out hexavalent chromium where appropriate and work with stakeholders to seek funding sources to help move facilities towards non-toxic alternatives to hexavalent chromium plating and anodizing processes.

Some District Board members echoed industry concerns for businesses and jobs in the metal finishing and aerospace industries and noted that many businesses have already moved out of state due to increased regulations. They cautioned against adopting additional regulations that might impact jobs in these industries. The Board has postponed the rulemaking until September 2018.



In March of this year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District approved amendments to Rule 1111 - Reduction of NOx Emissions from Natural- Gas-Fired, Fan-Type Central Furnaces. The rule contains provisions for "Mitigation Fees" and for "Consumer Rebates." Mitigation fees are an alternative compliance option for manufacturers that are in the process of developing compliant units. Mitigation fees range from $150 to $450, depending on the size of the furnace. The fees are increased in phases. Consumer rebates are intended to provide incentives to consumers to purchase compliant units and encourage manufacturers to commercialize them. Natural gas furnaces distributed with a propane conversion kit to be installed for propane firing only, are exempt.

The rule extended and increased the mitigation fee option for units not certified to meet the current 14 nanogram per Joule (ng/J) NOx emission limit. The mitigation fees were extended to October 2019 for Condensing (High Efficiency) Furnaces and for Non-Condensing (Standard) Furnaces. At the May hearing, the Board directed staff to return with a proposal for additional labeling requirements to better inform consumers when a unit is subject to a mitigation fee. In June, the Board adopted labeling requirements for any furnace that is utilizing the mitigation fee alternative compliance option due to inability to meet the 14 ng/J limit. Manufacturers are also required to include disclosures on the consumer brochures, technical specification sheets and their websites regarding units that cannot meet the 14 ng/J limit and are subject to a mitigation fee and that compliant units are eligible for a consumer rebate.



The South Coast Air Quality Management Plan included the identification of potential voluntary, and if needed, regulatory emission reduction strategies for sources covered by Facility-Based Mobile Source Measures. Facility-Based Mobile Source Measures (FBMSMs) would reduce emissions from indirect sources such as mobile sources "generated by or attracted to facilities."

District staff proposed five FBMSMs:

  • New Development and Redevelopment Projects,
  • Marine Ports,
  • Rail Yards,
  • Warehouses and Distribution Centers, and
  • Commercial Airports.

The staff asked the Board direction for next steps in the development of Facility-Based Mobile Source Measures. The Governing Board rejected moving forward with direct regulations on marine ports, airports, and future major development projects. The Board approved staff's recommendations to begin rulemaking for Rail Yards and Warehouses/Distribution Centers.

Rail Yards:
Staff will initiate rulemaking for an Indirect Source Rule (ISR) for rail yards that would include multiple compliance options. "While locomotives are the most significant source of NOx emissions that could be affected by a facility-based rail yard measure, a plan-based approach would allow the railroads to craft the emission reduction strategies considering all emissions sources in a way that makes the most sense for each rail yard's unique operations."—stated the staff report.

Warehouses and Distribution Centers:
Voluntary Emission Reduction Strategies Staff are proposed. New measures could include development of a SCAQMD-administered California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) air quality mitigation fund for warehouse projects to opt into, development of updated guidance for warehouse siting and operations, and continued work with utilities and regulatory agencies on developing the necessary fueling/charging infrastructure. The warehouse ISR would focus on reducing trucking emissions, which according to SCAQMD, make up a majority of emissions from this sector. Examples of other options include a mitigation fee, crediting options for other activities like installation of charging/fueling infrastructure for cleaner trucks and transportation refrigeration units, and conversion of cargo handling equipment to "Zero Emission" technology.
A schedule for rulemaking has not been released yet.


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