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EPA Denies Petition to Extend Air Pollution Deadline in San Joaquin Valley, California

Posted on 10/7/2016 by Roger Marks

In the Federal Register this week, US EPA announced it has denied a petition from the California Air Resource Board (CARB) requesting an extension for the San Joaquin Valley region to come into attainment of the EPA’s 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for small particulate matter.

Particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, referred to as PM 2.5 in the Clean Air Act regulations, can be a major challenge in dusty desert regions like the US Southwest. The San Joaquin Valley Air Basin is one of the few non-attainment regions, in California or the nation, for particulate matter.

See EPA's denial in the Federal Register here.

California’s environmental authorities asked for an extension in their State Implementation Plan, or SIP, submitted for EPA’s review in 2015. State Implementation Plans lay out methods and industry requirements that State environmental authorities will pursue to bring air pollution into compliance with the NAAQS. Under the Clean Air Act, US EPA must regularly review and approve updates and changes to states’ plans for reducing air pollution levels.

California environmental laws

What Are NAAQS?

Found at 40 CFR Part 50, NAAQS are specific limits set by EPA with the goal of controlling the volume of six “criteria pollutants” in the ambient air. The six Clean Air Act criteria pollutants are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter (PM), and ozone. 

Because measuring air quality on a national scale is not practical in a country as big as the United States, US EPA breaks the country down into regions, known as air quality control regions, or AQCRs. Each AQCR is designated as being in either “attainment” or “non-attainment” with a specific NAAQS. In “non-attainment” regions, industry must comply with stricter, more extensive air regulations and pollution control requirements.

Environmental Training in California

Environmental managers in California deal with a complex web of State, Federal, and local requirements. This month, Lion’s Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop comes to San Jose and Los Angeles, where the training will cover EHS issues unique to California—California Air Resource Boards and ambient air quality standards, California water standards, Hazardous Materials Business Plans (HMPB), Prop 65, and key basics of California’s unique Title 22 hazardous waste management rules.

Sign up now! The workshop comes to San Jose on October 31–November 1 and Los Angeles on November 3-4.

Don't work in California? The Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop is presented nationwide and covers your responsibilities under major EPA programs like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPCRA, TSCA, FIFRA, CERCLA/Superfund, and more. Learn what you need to know to identify the rules that apply to your site, ask the right questions on the job, and keep your facility in compliance with EPA rules. See the full schedule for the rest of 2016 here.

Tags: California, Clean Air Act, EPA

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