Overview of CARB and Air District Strategies
- Community Air Protection Program Resource Center
- Introduction to Community Air Quality
- Strategy Development
- Technical Assistance
- AB 617 Implementation
- Community Air Protection Program
CARB and Air District Strategies
This section provides an overview of potential approaches CARB and the air districts have to drive deployment of cleaner technology, implement operational changes, and reduce exposure in communities. This list should not be interpreted as comprehensive or exhaustive, but rather illustrative of some of the major available strategies to drive community-level emissions reductions.
Regulations are at the core of CARB and air district air quality improvement efforts and generally establish minimum requirements for emissions sources.
For an update on the status of CARB regulations adopted by community emissions reductions programs, navigate to this AB617 Statewide Strategy Summary.
CARB Mobile Source and Fuel Regulations
CARB has broad authority over fuel and on- and off-road mobile sources, with some exceptions such as engine standards for aircraft and locomotives. CARB can also establish in-use requirements and mandate emissions limits for fuels and new mobile source engines. For many mobile source categories, zero emission technologies are already commercially available or in the demonstration phase. Deploying these technologies in communities with high cumulative exposure burdens can provide local air quality benefits and contribute to regional efforts to achieve air quality standards.
Recent CARB plans include a suite of new regulations CARB is developing to reduce emissions from mobile sources and fuels:
Air Toxics Hot Spots Program
The legislature established the Statewide Air Toxics Hot Spots Program (Hot Spots Program) to address the health risk from toxic air contaminants at individual facilities across the State. The Hot Spots Program includes several components to collect emissions data, identify facilities having localized impacts, ascertain health risks, notify nearby residents of significant risks, and reduce those significant risks to acceptable levels.
Under the Hot Spots Program, air districts are required to set a threshold for facilities that pose a significant health risk and prioritize facilities for health risk assessments. Those facilities that are found to have a significant health risk must notify all exposed persons. Air districts also establish a risk value above which facilities must conduct a risk reduction audit and emissions reduction plan. Facilities must develop these health risk assessments, risk reduction audits, and emission reduction plans. CARB provides technical guidance to support smaller businesses conducting health risk assessments and developing emissions reduction plans. Statute prescribes penalties for failure to comply, including civil penalties on facility operators for failure to submit a complete risk reduction audit and emission reduction plan or failure to implement the measures set forth in the plan.
CARB Mobile and Stationary Airborne Toxic Control Measures
CARB has the authority to adopt measures specifically to reduce emissions of toxic air contaminants from non-vehicular and vehicular (mobile) sources, known as Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM). These regulatory measures can include process requirements, emissions limits, or technology requirements. The air districts have statutory enforcement requirements once CARB adopts a non-vehicular ATCM.
CARB's Current ATCMs database contains information on ATCMs.
Air District Rules
Air districts establish rules to reduce emissions from stationary and area-wide sources. Prohibitory rules set emissions limits, ban certain practices, or require the use of certain technologies. The air districts also adopt other types of rules including transportation control measures, indirect source rules, and best available retrofit control technology (BARCT) determinations for sources in nonattainment areas. BARCT determinations are reviewed and strengthened periodically by air districts to reduce emissions from existing sources of a particular source type. Updated BARCT determinations that require the cleanest technology and practices can provide emissions reductions from existing sources.
There may be opportunities for communities, CARB, the air districts, cities, counties, other public agencies, and/or industry to develop enforceable agreements. There are several examples of these types of agreements working in practice. Enforceable agreements between CARB or air districts and industry can result in voluntary adoption of the cleanest technologies or practices and provide assurance that emissions reductions will be realized. In addition, project developers and local communities may enter into community benefit agreements which can give communities a formal voice in how projects are developed.
Examples of existing enforceable agreements include:
Air district permitting requirements
Air districts issue permits to stationary sources allowing them to operate within emissions limits. Permit limits are usually updated when a facility installs new equipment or modifies their existing equipment. Air districts set emissions thresholds above which sources are subject to stringent emissions control requirements. For sources that exceed these thresholds, air districts determine the best-achievable emissions limit for each equipment type at that time, known as best available control technology (BACT) or best available control technology for toxics (T-BACT). Air districts must consider other BACT and T-BACT determinations during the permitting of a new or modified source. Statute requires air districts to use CARB’s Technology Clearinghouse when updating their BACT determinations for stationary sources.
To achieve the reductions associated with rules and regulations, equipment owners and operators must comply with requirements and technology must function as expected. Targeting enforcement activities in communities with high cumulative exposure burdens can provide immediate emissions reductions.
Enforcement of CARB and air district rules and regulations
CARB and the air districts have the authority to enforce air quality rules and regulations and can support additional emissions reductions through enforcement activities that identify sources emitting above allowed levels. Enforcement efforts also serve to deter non-compliance from other parties.
In-use testing is designed to identify cases where technologies are not functioning at their certified emissions levels. In some cases, this can lead to product recalls, and can be used to identify opportunities to target equipment turnover.
|Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)||CARB has a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) Policy. CARB's SEP Policy allows community-based projects to be funded from a portion of the penalties received during settlement of enforcement actions.” More Information|
CARB, air districts, the California Energy Commission, and other public agencies operate incentive programs that reduce the costs of developing, purchasing, or operating cleaner technologies. Incentives can deliver immediate emissions reductions and are typically designed to support the adoption of cleaner technologies beyond what is required by regulation.
 California Health and Safety Code § 44300 et seq.
 California Health and Safety Code § 39650 et seq.
 A non-mobile, stationary source can be classified in the emissions inventory as a stationary source or as an area source. Examples of area sources are gas stations, fireplaces, or burn piles.
 California Health and Safety Code § 40920.8(b).