Southern California air quality agency votes to lower emissions cap less than proposed

DIAMOND BAR, Calif. – Air quality regulators have voted to lower an emissions cap to try to clean up Southern California’s smog, but the cut will be smaller than initially proposed.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted to reduce the cap on emissions from facilities including refineries and factories from 26.5 tons of nitrogen oxides a day to 14.5 tons by 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday ( ).

Air district staff had proposed lowering the cap to 12.5 tons over the same period, and environmental groups wanted even steeper cuts.

“Those two tons of pollution may not mean much on paper, but out here it translates to more emergency room visits, more respiratory illnesses, and our community can’t take much more of that,” said Allen Hernandez, a Sierra Club organizer in the suburbs east of Los Angeles.

But industry officials had argued that bigger reductions would have required costly pollution control upgrades.

The vote on Friday followed hours of testimony at a public hearing related to the region’s cap-and-trade program, which allows facilities with cleaner emissions to sell pollution credits to those with emissions exceeding the limits. Under the program, regulators try to gradually reduce the number of credits to get facilities to cut pollution over time.

For years, oil refineries and other industries have bought credits instead of spending money on better controls, the Times reported.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, welcomed the decision and said in a statement that “we are pleased the South Coast Air Quality Management District board listened carefully to the concerns.”


Information from: Los Angeles Times,