ARB Rejects SJVAPCD PM2.5 Plan – Ag Better Pay Attention

The California Air Resources Board yesterday sent the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s PM2.5 Plan back to them for further work, stating it didn’t go far enough.  The PM2.5 plan contains measures on how the District will achieve attainment of the Federal PM2.5 standard.  While the CARB staff had initially proposed approval of the plan, Chairwoman Mary Nichols expressed concerns that this simply delayed the process and asked if this was all that could be done.  At that point CARB staff commented that they did not feel that enough had been done.  Specifically, they indicated that a more thorough review was necessary and that a deeper look into all combustion sources, including farm equipment should be looked at.  Also, CARB staff indicated that more could be done to look at sources of fugitive dust, including agriculture.

Environmental activist groups showed up in force, outnumbering industry groups by more than 4 to 1.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom was one of only 2 speakers to testify on behalf of agriculture.  Isom stated that everything that could be done, is being done.  Isom further commented that incentives are the one and only way to achieve the goals that CARB wants from this plan, and that more funds are needed.  The environmental activist groups criticized the plan and the District for lack of workshops, failure to include more measures on agricultural fugitive dust and a failure by CARB to adopt a farm equipment regulation.

The final vote by the board sent the plan back to the SJVAPCD for a rewrite and demanded that additional workshops be held on the proposed plan to review all possible measures.  For the agricultural community this means that the state will take another look at adopting a mandatory replacement farm equipment regulation and the District will have to look at strengthening the Conservation Management Practice (CMP) Rule.  The District will have approximately 90 days to review and revise the plan, along with ARB staff, and then bring it back to the board for consideration in February.