Choose a different state:
For assistance in CA, contact
Vineet Masuraha
Local Offices
California - Bakersfield
5500 Ming Ave
Suite 140

Bakersfield, CA 93309
Phone: 661-282-2200
California - Irvine
20 Corporate Park
Suite 200

Irvine, CA 92606
Phone: 949-567-9880
California - Sacramento
1801 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 916-444-6666
California - Oakland
1330 Broadway
Suite 1001

Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-285-6351

California Environmental News

Cap-and-Trade May 2015 Joint-Auction Results Released

Thursday, June 25, 2015

On May 28, 2015, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the results of its third joint auction for greenhouse gas (GHG) allowances between ARB and Québec's Ministère du Développement durable, de l'environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, MDDELCC). The auction was held on May 21, 2015. The results detail the total allowances available for sale, total allowances sold, the settlement price, and other market statistics in the auction for the 2013 (MDDELCC only), 2015 and 2018 vintage allowances. All 76,931,627 metric tons of "current" (2013 and 2015) allowances that were available for sale were sold. The settlement price was $12.29 per metric ton, an 8 cent increase from the Second Joint Auction which occurred in February 2015. 9,812,000 of the 10,431,500 vintage 2018 allowances that were available for sale were sold. The settlement price for 2018 allowances was $12.10 per metric ton, the same price as the February Auction. The next joint auction is planned for August 18, 2015. The auction notice is available on the CARB Cap-and-Trade website.

OEHHA's Revised Air Toxics Hot Spots Guidance Manual Leads to Rule Revisions and New ARB Guidance

Thursday, June 25, 2015

As previously reported, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted the revised Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Guidance Manual for Preparation of Health Risk Assessments in February 2015. Referred to as the OEHHA Manual, the final version can be found here. It was developed by OEHHA, in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) for use with local air district stationary source permitting and the Air Toxics Hot Spots programs (AB2588). ARB has also released an updated version of the Hot Spots Analysis and Reporting Program (HARP 2) in support of the OEHHA Manual. The HARP software update is available for download here. The OEHHA Manual and HARP 2 incorporate children's health concerns and risk assessment methodology, triggered by the Children's Health Protection Act of 1999 (SB 25, Stats. 1999). These updates also provide consistent health risk assessment (HRA) procedures.

The revised OEHHA Manual directly affects California air district health risk programs including stationary source permitting (Risk Management Review), CEQA, and AB2588. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the new guidance could result in 2 to 5 fold increases in predicted cancer risk for the same emission levels. According to ARB, there might be a 1.5 to 3 fold increase in predicted cancer risk with inhalation-only assessments, and additional increases in potential cancer risk estimates with multiple pathways of exposure. With either prediction level, air districts risk-related work load would increase. The BAAQMD estimated 150 new permit applications per year requiring HRAs and 750 existing facilities triggering further prioritization analysis. These BAAQMD findings suggest work load impacts on all California air districts from air permits, AB2588 facility compliance and CEQA projects that might not have previously triggered an HRA threshold.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) has recently revised its health risk thresholds for air permits and CEQA projects from 10 in a million to 20 in a million for cancer risk; its AB2588 thresholds remain at 10 in a million for cancer risk. The SJVAPCD also implemented a tiered approach to its risk assessments. More information about the recent SJVAPCD rule revision can be found here. Other air districts may also consider rule or policy revisions.

ARB just published new Risk Management Guidance for Stationary Sources of Air Toxics, a discussion draft (May 27, 2015), and can be found here. This guidance focuses on communication challenges from anticipated higher predicted cancer risk levels. Many existing facilities that are not proposing any changes in operations, are already using control technology and are actually maintaining or reducing their emissions. However, under the methodology provided in the revised OEHHA Manual, they will be reporting substantially higher cancer risk levels and may now require risk management plans. The challenge will be in ensuring the public's right to know while communicating that revised public health impacts do not necessarily correspond to increases in emissions or operational changes at facilities.

SMAQMD Proposed Revisions to Particulate Matter CEQA Thresholds of Significance

Monday, May 25, 2015

On March 19, 2015, the Sacramento Metro Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) proposed to revise its California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) thresholds of significance for fine and coarse particulate matter (i.e. PM2.5 and PM10). The proposed CEQA threshold revisions would align with existing SMAQMD new source review (NSR) thresholds and reduce deterioration of ambient air quality and significant environmental impacts.

CEQA Guidelines allow lead agencies to adopt "thresholds of significance" to assist in determining whether a project may have a significant effect on the environment. When environmental impacts are below thresholds of significance, and therefore "less-than-significant," then the Initial Study Checklist would become a Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration. CEQA Guidelines requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) when environmental impacts exceed established thresholds of significance. SMAQMD adopted the current CEQA thresholds in 2002 and is now in the process of reviewing the thresholds of significance for NO2, SO2, CO, PM10, and PM2.5. As previously stated, SMAQMD is proposing to revise only the PM2.5 and PM10 thresholds at this time. The current SMAQMD particulate matter CEQA thresholds, which are based on the California Ambient Air Quality Standard, are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Current SMAQMD Particulate Matter CEQA Thresholds
PollutantProject LevelCumulative
PM2.512 µg/m3 (Annual)None
PM1050 µg/m3 (24-hour)2.5 µg/m3 (24-hour)
20 µg/m3 (Annual)1.0 µg/m3 (Annual)

The proposed particulate matter thresholds will differ depending on whether a project has applied Best Available Control Technology (BACT) or best management practices. For projects that have not, the proposed particulate matter threshold is zero. For projects that have applied BACT or best management practices, the proposed significance thresholds are presented in Table 2. These thresholds have been developed based on the SMAQMD BACT and emission offsets thresholds for particulate matter as defined in SMAQMD Rule 202. Consistent with federal and state emission reduction strategies, thirteen other California air districts have also implemented this approach to significance thresholds.

Table 2. Proposed SMAQMD Particulate Matter CEQA Thresholds

The public comment period on the proposed revisions ends on May 27, 2015. A public hearing will be held to discuss adoption of the proposed particulate matter CEQA thresholds of significance on May 28, 2015. More information can be found here.

SDAPCD Proposed Amendments to Rule 11 and Rule 66.1

Monday, May 25, 2015

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) will be holding a public workshop on Friday, June 19, 2015 to discuss proposed amendments to Rule 11 and Rule 66.1. The updates will help to improve rule language clarity and maintain consistency across all SDAPCD rules.

Rule 11 details exemptions from SDAPCD Rule 10 permitting requirements. The proposed changes will add new exemptions to Rule 11 and revise several existing exemptions. Proposed new exemptions include welding equipment, coating operations used for student theatrical productions, and solvent wipe cleaning operations for quality control or quality assurance. The district will also hold a public workshop regarding proposed changes to Rule 66.1, Miscellaneous Surface Coating Operations and Other Processes Emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). This is a "catch all" rule to control VOC emissions from sources not covered by other rules. SDAPCD is proposing to increase the Rule 66.1 usage exemption for solvent cleaning from 20 gallons to 550 gallons per year. The amended rule will also include additional operational categories with specific corresponding VOC limits.

For more information regarding compliance with this rule, click here.

EKAPCD Requires Commercial Solar Facilities to Obtain Air Permits

Monday, May 25, 2015

Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District (EKAPCD) has determined that commercial solar power plants within the district are sources of fugitive dust emissions (PM10). According to EKAPCD, PM10 emissions can be caused by land clearing, scraping, grading, and on-site travel at solar plants, and emissions are made worse by frequent high-wind events in Eastern Kern County. As such, EKAPCD is requiring all commercial solar facilities encompassing ten (10) or more acres to apply for and obtain a district-issued Authority to Construct (ATC) and Permit to Operate (PTO), and submit a Fugitive Dust Emission Control Plan. The Fugitive Dust Emission Control Plan must include Reasonably Available Control Measures (RACM) to reduce fugitive dust. Examples of RACM are control of vehicular speed, application of dust suppressants, and use of water trucks to keep soil damp.

Additionally, all commercial solar facilities must submit an air monitoring plan to EKAPCD. The district recommends the use of PM10 air monitors, although alternative monitoring methods may be proposed. One benefit of installing PM10 air monitors is that owners/operators may petition to cancel their PTO by presenting five (5) years of "clean data" showing an upwind/downwind concentration difference of 50-µg/m3 or less, based on one-hour averages. More information can be found here.

AVAQMD Proposed Adoption of the 2015 8-Hour RACT SIP Analysis

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD) is proposing the adoption of an updated 2015 8-Hour Reasonably Available Control Technology – State Implementation Plan Analysis (RACT SIP Analysis). This update is in response to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) lowering of the primary ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) from 0.084 parts per million (ppm) to 0.075 ppm.

The shift to the lower NAAQS standard, which was effective May 27, 2008, prompted the USEPA to require all non-attainment areas submit an updated RACT SIP Analysis. The purpose of the updated RACT SIP Analysis is to ensure that the district evaluates the current rules to ensure that the most current RACT is incorporated. Therefore, the AVAQMD has assessed the district rules and all of its major sources of ozone precursors to ensure that the current rules satisfy RACT.

The RACT SIP Analysis draws upon the 2006 RACT SIP Analysis and the 2014 Supplement, which were previously submitted to the USEPA for review. The current RACT SIP Analysis provides a complete determination of the district's obligations. After review, the district has determined that there may be rules that will require further evaluation or amendments to comply with current RACT requirements. The district has identified the following rules that will likely be amended based on the RACT SIP Analysis: Rule 462, Rule 463, Rule 1102, Rule 1104, Rule 1107, Rule 1110.2, Rule 1141.1, Rule 1145, and Rule 1146.