(Courtesy Photo)

Last Week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) Governing Board adopted two Community Emissions Reduction Plans (CERPs) identifying actions to reduce emissions and exposure to toxic air pollution in two environmental justice communities.

The communities of Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV) and Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) were designated for the second year of the community air program established by Assembly Bill 617 (C. Garcia), which requires local air districts to reduce the disproportionate impacts of air pollution in environmental justice communities.

“We have worked tirelessly over the past two years to better understand the air quality concerns within these two communities,” said Ben Benoit, South Coast AQMD’s Vice-Chair. “Today’s Board action allows us to continue this process so that when finalized, these plans can provide both short and long-term emissions reductions that can have lasting impacts to the health of those who live and work within these communities.”

The CERPs include air quality priorities identified by the Community Steering Committees (CSCs), which consist of members of the public who live, work or go to school within each community, including active residents, community leaders, local business owners or workers, community organizations, local agencies, schools, universities, hospitals, tribal organizations and elected officials.

The plans include specific actions that go beyond existing efforts by South Coast AQMD, to reduce air pollution emissions and/or exposures, including efforts to conduct community air monitoring, focused enforcement and outreach in these communities.

Eastern Coachella Valley CERP: Aims to reduce air pollution from the Salton Sea, pesticides, fugitive road dust, the Greenleaf Desert View Power Plant, diesel mobile sources, open burning and illegal dumping. Specific actions include:

  • Reducing emissions by paving unpaved roads;
  • Establishing a notification system for permitted agricultural burning;
  • Working with scientists at public health agencies with expertise in pesticide toxicity to identify key pesticides of concern for air monitoring;
  • Expanding the monitoring network to address concerns about H2S and PM emissions from the Salton Sea, agricultural pesticide use, open burning and fugitive road dust through collaboration with various entities;
  • Installing air filtration systems in schools, homes and community centers near sources of air pollution; and
  • Incentivizing the replacement of older, higher polluting on-road and off-road equipment with cleaner technology.

Southeast Los Angeles CERP: Aims to reduce pollution from stationary and mobile sources; and make reducing community exposure to air pollution a top priority. Specific action targets include:

  • Reducing pollution from trucks such as prioritizing incentives for zero-emission replacements;
  • preventing truck idling via outreach and enforcement;
  • encouraging a clean truck lane on the 710 freeway;
  • identifying and reducing emissions from metal processing, rendering and other industrial facilities;
  • conducting air monitoring near railyards; and
  • increasing green spaces.

To develop the CERPs, South Coast AQMD held a total of 116 public and individual meetings with ECV and SELA CSC’s to identify and prioritize emission reduction actions and discuss community air monitoring plans.

(Courtesy Photo)

This year provided challenges of tight schedules due to AB 617 statutory requirements with time lost due to transitioning to a virtual format due to COVID-19. South Coast AQMD will continue to work with the ECV CSC to further develop the CERP and return to the Governing Board by mid-2021 for approval of the revised plan, which will then be submitted to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for final approval. Following CARB’s approval, implementation will take place over approximately five years.

Under the first year of the AB 617 program, South Coast AQMD led community steering committees in Wilmington/West Long Beach/Carson, San Bernardino/Muscoy and Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles/West Commerce. CERPs for these communities were approved by CARB in September 2020.

South Coast AQMD is the air pollution control agency for major portions of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, including the Coachella Valley. For news, air quality alerts, event updates and more, please visit us at www.aqmd.gov, download our award-winning app, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. c