USEPA has proposed to reclassify the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) Moderate nonattainment area to a Serious nonattainment area for both the 1997 and 2006 PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), based on USEPA’s determination that these standards will not be met by the applicable attainment dates. If finalized, reclassification would trigger additional nonattainment planning requirements. USEPA is currently accepting comments from the public on these proposals.

The proposal to reclassify SJV as a Serious nonattainment area for 1997 PM2.5 standards was issued January 12, 2015 (80 FR 1482), and the proposal regarding reclassification of 2006 PM2.5 standard to Serious nonattainment was issued January 13, 2015 (80 FR 1816). SJV is currently classified as a Moderate nonattainment area for the 1997 annual PM2.5 standard (15.0 µg/m3), the 1997 24-hour PM2.5 standard (65 µg/m3), and the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard (35 µg/m3). The applicable attainment date for SJV to meet the standards is currently April 5, 2015 for the 1997 standards, and December 31, 2015 for the 2006 standard. However, USEPA has determined that the area cannot attain the 1997 annual or 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standards by the applicable dates. Therefore, USEPA proposed to reclassify SJV as a Serious nonattainment area.

If these proposals are finalized, California will be required to submit State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions to demonstrate that the plan provides for attainment of the 1997 standards by December 31, 2015, and attainment of the 2006 standard by December 31, 2019. However, the state may apply for an extension of these dates by up to 5 years. The Serious nonattainment area SIP submittal will include several changes, including revision of SJVAPCD’s New Source Review (NSR) Rule to lower the applicable major stationary source threshold for PM2.5 from 100 tpy to 70 tpy. Additionally, the revised SIP will include provisions to assure that best available control measures (BACM) are implemented for PM2.5 and its precursors. Therefore, PM2.5 control requirements within the District may become more stringent.

Comments regarding the proposal to reclassify the 1997 standard must be received by February 11, 2015, and by February 27, 2015 for the 2006 standard. More information can be found here.