Thursday, June 30, 2011

EPA Approves Some California PM2.5 Plans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to approve California's air quality plans for fine particles (PM2.5) in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley. These plans will reduce particulate emissions to the level required by the health based 1997 PM2.5 standard by 2015.

Over the past 10 years, PM2.5 has improved by 14% in the San Joaquin Valley and by 43% in the South Coast. Diesel mobile sources such as trucks, construction equipment and marine vessels are the largest source of PM2.5 in California. Trucks and buses account for about 40 percent of diesel emissions from all mobile sources.

In November 2010, EPA proposed to disapprove the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley PM2.5 air quality plans because the agency believed they relied heavily on emissions reductions from several State diesel and marine vessel rules that had not been finalized or submitted to the EPA for review.

Since then, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is finalizing these rules. They include the In-Use Diesel Truck and Bus rules, the Drayage Truck Rules and the Ocean Going Vessels Clean Fuels rule. In addition, CARB has revised the plans that were originally submitted to EPA to account for the original overestimation of activity and emissions from trucks and construction equipment as well as the economic recession. As a result, future emissions are forecasted to be lower and fewer emissions reductions are needed to meet the standard. For the San Joaquin Valley, the effect is that about 5% fewer reductions are needed due to the recession and about 18% fewer reductions are needed because of better emissions estimates. For the South Coast, about 5% fewer reductions are needed due to the recession and about 5% fewer reductions are needed due to better emissions estimates.

However, EPA is proposing to disapprove the plans’ contingency measures because the agency believes they do not provide sufficient emissions reductions. EPA is continuing to work with the State to demonstrate and deploy near zero emitting technologies.

The proposed actions will be published in the Federal Register and will include a 30-day public comment period from the date of publication.

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