To address stakeholder requests, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff announced on Tuesday, August 3, 2010, that it is postponing consideration of regulatory amendments until November, 2010.  It also announced that itwill be scheduling additional workshops in August/September to discuss the emissions inventory and proposed amendments.

When CARB Staff held workshops in June and July regarding proposed amendments to the Truck and Bus, Off-Road, Tractor-Trailer GHG, and Drayage Truck regulations many stakeholders requested additional time to review and comment on the regulations, including the following:

  • Details of planned emissions inventory updates for trucks and off-road vehicles,
  • Specific draft regulatory language,
  • ARB’s revised report on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) mortality estimates, a draft of which will be released later this summer, and
  • Proposed changes to the Drayage Truck Regulation.

To address those requests, CARB decided to move the Board Hearing to consider the proposed amendments, currently slated for September 2010, to November.  In the interim, CARB staff will hold workshops in August and September to discuss the revised emission inventory and the proposed amendments.  CARB says it believe that this delay in the hearing date will provide sufficient time to hold the workshops and to make any necessary adjustments after the workshops.

Background on the Regulations to Be Considered

The Truck and Bus, Off-Road, and Drayage Truck Regulations are intended to reduce toxic and smog-forming emissions from trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles. Reducing such emissions is necessary to meet federally imposed clean air standards and to reduce the adverse health effects from air pollution throughout the state. The Tractor-Trailer GHG regulation is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tractor-trailers traveling California’s roadways.

While staff is proposing to amend several elements of the truck and bus and off-road regulations, many provisions are in effect and not being considered for amendment.  These include:

  • Off-road reporting and labeling requirements;
  • Off-road idling limits and sales disclosure requirements; and
  • Requirements to report vehicles utilizing the agricultural vehicle provisions and some two engine street sweepers under the truck and bus regulation.

However, due to the pending amendments to the truck and bus and off-road regulations, several requirements have been postponed:

  • On February 11, 2010, CARB issued a delay of the off-road regulation’s retrofit and turnover requirements pending further notice.
  • The truck and bus regulation reporting originally required by March 31, 2010, has been delayed until early 2011.
  • The truck and bus retrofit and turnover requirements (scheduled to begin January 1, 2011) will also be extended.
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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released the Preliminary Draft Cap-And-Trade Regulation and announced a December 14, 2009 Public meeting to discuss the Preliminary Draft Regulation.

In December 2008, CARB adopted the AB 32 Scoping Plan. The Plan incorporates a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California, including the creation of a cap-and-trade program. As proposed, the California cap-and-trade program would include a stringent declining emissions cap. Emissions trading and the limited use of offsets would provide flexibility for covered entities to comply. If adopted, the cap-and-trade program would allow trading to ensure cost-effective emissions reductions and cover 85 percent of California’s GHG emissions.

CARB has issued the PDR in the hope to garner public comment and support.  To further its effort, CARB has scheduled a public meeting on Monday, December 14, 2009, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd Floor, at Cal/EPA Headquarters Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95814.  In addition, CARB has inserted narrative into the PDR to highlight certain issues on which it is  specifically seeking comment.  For example, Section 95820 discusses “Covered Entities” the PDR “provides background on why the proposed covered entities were selected.” Along with the PDR, CARB issued an Excel spreadsheet entitled “Example Base Allowance Budgets for the California Cap-and-Trade Program” to provide example cap numbers.

There are five fundamental parts to the PDR:

  1. The Cap. The cap on emissions is set for each compliance period, first of which will begin January 1, 2012.  CARB is proposing to have three year compliance periods, with the possibility of staggering the phase-in of the program.
  2. Allowances.  Permits to emit GHG are “allowances.”  Every year the cap would decline and thus, the number od allwances issued would decline. At the end of a compliance period each covered entity would surrender allowances and any needed offsets that would equal its total GHG emissions during the compliance period.  Entities may do the following with their allowances: (1) surrender to to comply; (2) bank them for for future use; (3) trade them; (4) ask CARB to retire them.
  3. Banking. Refers to the ability to carry-over unused allowances or offsets from one compliance period to another.  Provides incentive for covered entities to make early reductions.
  4. Offsets.  Covered entities could buy offset credits in lieu of buying allowances or reducing their emissions on-site.  Offsets are tradeable credits that represent GHG emissions reductions that are made in areas or sectors not covered by the cap-and-trade program.
  5. Linkage to Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading and Offset Crediting Systems.  The PDR proposes to link its cap-and-trade program to other trading systems.

At least initially, the program will be limited to large sources that emit 25,00 metric tons or more of GHG a year.  The list of covered entities proposed by CARB contains the usual suspects:  Electricity deliverers, transportation fuel deliverers, and facilities with the following operations or processes.

  • Stationary combustion;
  • Cement manufacturing;
  • Cogeneration;
  • Petroleum refining;
  • Hydrogen production;
  • Aluminum production;
  • Facility operators calcining carbonates;
  • CO2 supplier or transfer recipient;
  • Electricity generation;
  • Glass production;
  • Iron and steel production;
  • Lime production;
  • Natural gas transmission and distribution;
  • Nitric acid production;
  • Oil extraction field operation;
  • Gas extraction field operation;
  • Production of industrial gases;
  • Pulp and paper production; and
  • Soda ash production.

CARB states in its Notice that “while staff has specifically highlighted a number of areas for public comment, we welcome and will consider comments on all portions of the draft for the Spring 2010
proposed draft regulation.”  Comments are due no later than January 11, 2010 and can be submitted at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/lispub/comm2/bcsubform.php?listname=dec-14-pdrws&comm_period=1.

The California Air Resources Board unanimously adopted its Scoping Plan to implement the sweeping changes in greenhouse gas emission dictated by AB 32.

As envisaged by the Scoping Plan, the state’s greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 15% over the next 12 years.  Although it seems to lay out targets for most sectors of the economy, there are some sectors that are missing, like aircraft and airports. All told,  it amounts to an average cut of four tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for every person in the state.

The Scoping Plan, which  will be implemented over the next two years, puts California at the forefront of national climate policy at a time when President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to put control of greenhouse gas emissions at the top of his environmental agenda.

Past posts on this topic:

As part of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) “Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan,” the Board, on October 24, 2008, released its Preliminary Draft Staff Proposal on recommended approaches for setting Interim significance thresholds for greenhouse gases under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Since these thresholds of significance will affect the conduct of EIRs for projects subject to CEQA, such as airport development projects and Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans, participation in the setting of these standards is critical.

California law provides that climate change is an environmental effect subject to the CEQA.  Lead agencies, such as Airport Land Use Commissions, are therefore obligated to determine whether a project’s climate change-related effects may be significant, thereby requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Report and to impose feasible mitigation to substantially lessen any significant effects.

CARB is specifically requesting participation from the public stakeholders and local lead agencies.  The Preliminary Draft Staff Proposal suggests a “sector approach” due to the fact that “(1) some sectors contribute more substantially to the problem, and therefore should have a greater obligation for emissions reductions, and (2) looking forward, there are differing levels of emissions reductions expected from different sectors in or to meet California’s climate objectives.”

The PDSP includes flowcharts that address CARB’s “threshold concepts” for industrial projects and for residential and commercial projects.  The PDSP also states that that the staff is working on a proposal for an interim approach for thresholds for transportation projects.  CARB proposes, for example, a significance threshold of 7,000 metric tons of CO2e/year.  For Projects that go over that amount, an EIR would have to be prepared and “all feasible GHG mitigation measures implemented.”

CARB has identified a few questions to solicit public comment, but notes that the “list is not exhaustive.”

  • Will the recommended approaches have any unintended consequences, for example, encouraging the piecemealing of projects?
  • As set out in the attachments to the Staff Proposal, staff proposes to define certain performance standards (e.g., for energy efficiency) by referencing or compiling lists from existing local, State or national standards.  For some sub-sources of GHG emissions (e.g., construction, transportation, waste), ARB staff has not identified reference standards.  How should the performance standards for these sub-sources be defined?
  • Are any of the industrial, residential, or commercial project types eligible for categorical exemptions likely to contribute more significantly to climate change than staff’s preliminary analysis indicates?
  • For residential and commercial projects, staff has proposed that the GHG emissions of some projects that meet GHG performance standards might under some circumstances still be considered cumulatively considerable and therefore significant.  What types of projects might still have climate change-related impacts?

As noted above, since these thresholds of significance will affect the conduct of EIRs for projects subject to CEQA, such as airport development projects and Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans, participation in the setting of these standards is critical.

As part of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) “Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan,” the Board, on October 24, 2008, released its Preliminary Draft Staff Proposal on recommended approaches for setting Interim significance thresholds for greenhouse gases under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Since these thresholds of significance will affect the conduct of EIRs for projects subject to CEQA, such as airport development projects and Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans, participation in the setting of these standards is critical.

California law provides that climate change is an environmental effect subject to the CEQA.  Lead agencies, such as Airport Land Use Commissions, are therefore obligated to determine whether a project’s climate change-related effects may be significant, thereby requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Report and to impose feasible mitigation to substantially lessen any significant effects.

CARB is specifically requesting participation from the public stakeholders and local lead agencies.  The Preliminary Draft Staff Proposal suggests a “sector approach” due to the fact that “(1) some sectors contribute more substantially to the problem, and therefore should have a greater obligation for emissions reductions, and (2) looking forward, there are differing levels of emissions reductions expected from different sectors in or to meet California’s climate objectives.”

The PDSP includes flowcharts that address CARB’s “threshold concepts” for industrial projects and for residential and commercial projects.  The PDSP also states that that the staff is working on a proposal for an interim approach for thresholds for transportation projects.  CARB proposes, for example, a significance threshold of 7,000 metric tons of CO2e/year.  For Projects that go over that amount, an EIR would have to be prepared and “all feasible GHG mitigation measures implemented.”

CARB has identified a few questions to solicit public comment, but notes that the “list is not exhaustive.”

  • Will the recommended approaches have any unintended consequences, for example, encouraging the piecemealing of projects?
  • As set out in the attachments to the Staff Proposal, staff proposes to define certain performance standards (e.g., for energy efficiency) by referencing or compiling lists from existing local, State or national standards.  For some sub-sources of GHG emissions (e.g., construction, transportation, waste), ARB staff has not identified reference standards.  How should the performance standards for these sub-sources be defined?
  • Are any of the industrial, residential, or commercial project types eligible for categorical exemptions likely to contribute more significantly to climate change than staff’s preliminary analysis indicates?
  • For residential and commercial projects, staff has proposed that the GHG emissions of some projects that meet GHG performance standards might under some circumstances still be considered cumulatively considerable and therefore significant.  What types of projects might still have climate change-related impacts?

As noted above, since these thresholds of significance will affect the conduct of EIRs for projects subject to CEQA, such as airport development projects and Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans, participation in the setting of these standards is critical.