This is a big one! For the first time in many years, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) will be considering revisions to their permitting process (due to modifications required by the federal EPA). Unfortunately, the Air District has removed all previous commitments to strengthening the permitting process to meet 2017 Clean Air Program goals for GHG emission reductions. The Air District’s past permitting record indicates a very bad habit of rubber stamping projects that endanger community health and destabilize the climate. Can that behavior be reformed?
The Air District is once again using AB 398—the recently passed cap and trade extension bill—to argue that it is prohibited from any direct regulation of CO2 emissions. Although the bill specifically restricts Air Districts from taking actions that produce CO2 reductions, BAAQMD legal staff insists that this also prohibits them from preventing future emission increases. The purpose of New Source Review under Rule 2-2 is to utilize Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to prevent future emission increases from new or modified sources, not to reduce existing emissions.
As a result, staff’s proposed improvements to current permitting rules, Rules 2-X, intentionally do nothing to control future CO2 emissions. The result is that dangerous projects—like the proposed expansion of crude-by-ship into the Phillips 66 marina at the Rodeo refinery—will continue to be rubber stamped. The “improvements” fail to prevent the increased emissions that inevitably follow from changes to dirtier, more GHG- and toxics- emitting crude sources.
Staff is using the same interpretation of AB 398 to argue that Rule 12-16, the proposed refinery emissions cap, can no longer be considered.
BAAQMD’s own data clearly show our region is failing to control emission of both GHGs and particulate matter. There is no way we can meet either the climate goals of the 2017 Climate Action Plan, or the health risk reduction goals of the recently adopted Rule 11-18, without incorporating regulation of GHG’s and particulate matter into permitting rules for new or modified sources.
Please join us on Wednesday, December 6th, to demand permitting rules and refinery emission caps that truly prevent increased future emission of carbon dioxide and toxic co-pollutants. We must have Rule 12-16 back on the BAAQMD agenda where it belongs. Permitting rules can and must end emission trading for particulate matter (PM 2.5), the major source of deadly public health impacts in front-line communities.
Talking points are provided here.
Wednesday, December 6, 9:30 AM
First Floor Hearing Room
375 Beale Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Thanks to 350Bay Area and Jed Holtzman for this excellent analysis of the Proposed Changes to the Permits Regulations.