Board to vote on air cleanup plan for Bay Area

The Associated Press
Friday July 27, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — The state Air Resources Board was set to vote on an air pollution cleanup plan for the Bay Area that federal clean air officials already have said isn’t adequate to address smog problems. 

San Joaquin Valley officials also were expected to urge the board to impose stricter requirements to curb the smog that blows into the valley. 

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official sent a letter to the executive officer of the board last week saying the agency had concerns about the plan that Bay Area air specialists and transportation officials approved last week. The EPA rejected a version of the plan in March. 

The plan includes programs to reduce emissions from vehicles and industries. 

The problem with the plan is that the three agencies that prepared it didn’t rely on the best information available, said Jack Broadbent, director of the EPA’s regional air division. 

He also said the other issues that need to be addressed in the plan are having the agencies conduct a more thorough modeling of whether proposed cleanup methods would be effective, and completing a better estimate of how different sources are contributing to pollution. 

“We remain optimistic that the agencies will meet our needs,” Broadbent said. 

The Air Resources Board has been working with the EPA to find out what the plan needs to get approved, said spokesman Jerry Martin. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission put it together. 

“We’re going to do everything we can to make the EPA feel comfortable in adopting the plan,” Martin said. 

The EPA will then get the plan and begin reviewing it. If it rejects the next version, that could lead to a freeze on funding for transportation projects, Broadbent said. 

San Joaquin Valley officials were hoping the resources board would request more stringent regulations, including bumping up vehicle smog checks to a more thorough level, because they want less pollution to blow into the valley. 

A 1993 study measured the pollution that blew into the valley from the Bay Area for one hour on one day. That study found that during that hour, 27 percent of Modesto’s pollution came from the Bay Area, 11 percent of Fresno’s pollution was from the Bay Area and about 7 percent of Bakersfield’s pollution came from the Bay Area. 

Officials in those areas blame the pollution from the Bay Area for contributing to violations of air standards, but that depends on wind, temperature and location, Martin said.  

And those areas can generate enough pollution to be able to violate the standards on their own, and the pollution they generate is blown into other areas, he said.