Summary of Comments - Community Air Protection Program
Community Air Protection Program
Summary of Comments and Responses
Main Comments and Responses Grouped by Topic:
The purpose of this website is to compile the comment themes and recommendations heard throughout the public engagement process for the Community Air Protection Program (Program) and describe how those comments are addressed. Although a response to comments is not formally required, CARB is providing one to further this ongoing dialogue. Comments are summarized under major topic headings, followed by staff responses. As CARB staff continue to receive comments, this website will be updated.
Assembly Bill (AB) 617 provides a new community-focused approach to improve public health in communities most impacted by air pollution. To implement the bill, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has established the Community Air Protection Program (Program). This Program includes multiple elements that involve a wide variety of stakeholders who are essential in helping to design and implement the Program. CARB has had multiple outreach activities and different levels of engagement to help ensure an inclusive process. In general, efforts have focused on understanding community concerns and discussing the overall structure and requirements for the Program. CARB staff are also coordinating with air districts that are conducting additional outreach within their regions. Beginning in October 2017, CARB started seeking public input and hosting outreach events to help inform the development and implementation of the Program. Outreach events have included:
- Community-level meetings.
- Multi-stakeholder consultation group meetings.
- Informational meetings, workshops, and technical summits.
- Governing Board meetings.
- Individual meetings, presentations, and discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders, including community residents, environmental justice organizations, air districts, affected industry, academia, public health agencies, and other interested stakeholders.
Stakeholders have provided many detailed suggestions in comment letters and verbally during outreach events. These initial engagement activities have resulted in valuable learnings that help staff identify the most effective ways to get people involved, share information, ask questions, and discuss recommendations. Some commenters recommended that CARB document the input received at outreach events and make it publicly available. This website was created in response to those recommendations. CARB staff will continue to adjust and refine outreach approaches to meet community needs. Commenters provided many other suggestions for improving outreach and ensuring that community members are involved in Program development and implementation. Some key comments on outreach are provided below:
- CARB/air district staff should not just communicate to the public – they need to hear from the public and actively solicit input.
- Ensure real participation by community members in decision-making and implementation (e.g., developing statewide strategy, selecting communities, conducting monitoring, developing monitoring plans and emission reduction programs).
- Provide a ground up, community-based approach for Program implementation. Community stakeholders have many ideas, expertise, and intimate familiarity with their neighborhoods. They want to be heard and directly involved in designing solutions for their community.
In February 2018, CARB released two documents to provide our initial thoughts on the Program and to get the public involved in building the Program: the “Community Air Protection Program Concept Paper” and the “Draft Process and Criteria for 2018 Community Selections”. Staff received more than 30 written comment letters on these two documents and other issues related to the Program. These letters can be viewed on CARB’s website at:
In early June 2018, staff released a more comprehensive document titled the “Community Air Protection Program Draft Blueprint” and appendices with detailed Program requirements (Draft Blueprint), for public review and comment. The Draft Blueprint reflects comments submitted on the initial documents and public input provided during outreach events. It includes: processes and criteria for identifying and selecting communities; statewide strategies to reduce emissions of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants; and requirements for the development of community air monitoring plans and community emissions reduction programs. Staff received almost 40 comment letters on the Draft Blueprint. These letters can be viewed on CARB’s website at:
Based on the comments received on the Draft Blueprint, staff created a revised version to be presented to the CARB Governing Board for consideration in September 2018. Staff have also created a Staff Report that recommends the first-year communities to be selected by the CARB Governing Board, which will also be presented to the Board for consideration in September 2018. Staff will also continue working with stakeholders through multiple forums, including community steering committees that will help guide the implementation process after the CARB Governing Board selects the first round of communities.
In the Blueprint, CARB staff have incorporated public engagement and community participation into all of the Program elements and as specific requirements for community air monitoring plans and community emissions reduction programs. Staff have provided information on how the Program uses multiple outreach activities and different levels of engagement to help support an inclusive process, including the development of the Consultation Group to provide a forum for discussion across stakeholder groups. The Consultation Group includes a broad membership of community members, environmental justice organizations, air districts, academia, and business and has met several times throughout the development process of this Program.
In addition to the Blueprint, CARB staff have developed an online Resource Center to support communities throughout California. The online Resource Center contains documents, tools, and information that are needed to meet statutory requirements and help ensure effective implementation of the Program. The online Resource Center can be found on the Program website at:
Main Comments and Responses Grouped by Topic
Outreach and Community Participation
- Establish a community engagement plan with guidelines for conducting outreach meetings, including minimum requirements for air districts.
- Establish a Stakeholder Committee with at least half of the membership from environmental justice groups. Community steering committees should: not be limited to citizen scientists; reflect community diversity; and be run by professional facilitators.
- Commenters were split on the role of steering committees, with some wanting them to be only advisory and others wanting them to have decision-making authority. In addition, some commenters wanted a democratic process to determine the process and structure of the steering committee.
- Community steering committee membership should include environmental justice groups and employees of facilities subject to monitoring or emissions reduction requirements.
- Define the role of small business and involve them more.
- Air districts should designate a primary contact, experienced in community outreach, who can communicate fluently in the predominant language spoken in the community.
- Commenters recommended working with local community-based organizations to plan and co-host meetings and provided suggestions for effective outreach (e.g., holding evening meetings in the community, preferably with food and childcare; using facilitators and including interactive processes such as small breakout groups; translating materials and providing interpreters; documenting community participation at meetings and making notes publicly available).
- Create a mechanism of accountability to ensure that input is actually incorporated and addressed.
- Provide training focused on air quality regulation, air monitoring, and how to engage in AB 617 decision-making processes.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint establishes detailed outreach requirements throughout the document for community identification, community air monitoring plans, and community emissions reduction programs. These requirements reflect many suggestions that were provided to help make outreach more effective and responsive to community needs. For community air monitoring plans and community emissions reduction programs, air districts are required to have a robust public process, including the establishment of community steering committees that must be comprised primarily of community members.
The Blueprint directs air districts to convene the community steering committees, and states that the committees be composed primarily of community members, which includes participants who live, work, or own businesses within each community (e.g., community residents, small businesses, facility managers/workers, school personnel). Additional recommended members include participants from local city/county agencies, land use planning agencies, transportation agencies, local health departments (e.g., hospitals, clinics, physical rehabilitation centers, public health counseling services), academic researchers, and labor organizations, as appropriate. The air districts should partner with local community-based organizations when convening the committees, to promote broad engagement and participation.
In convening and coordinating the community steering committee, the air districts should work with the steering committee to establish a charter which determines the committee process and structure, including the use of facilitation services and other items to encourage effective engagement. The community steering committees will have a fundamental role in informing and carrying out air monitoring goals and objectives, disseminating results to the community, and supporting effective local actions. Community steering committees will also have a direct impact on the strategies used to create the community emissions reduction program. While steering committee members will participate in developing community emissions reduction programs, the governing boards of air districts and CARB have decision-making authority for approval of these programs.
Staff also recommend that air districts track metrics for number of public meetings and number of people in attendance. CARB will provide ongoing support for outreach efforts through the online Resource Center, which includes an “Outreach and Training” section that houses best practices information and tools for effective community engagement.
As it relates to training, the online Resource Center is intended to provide stakeholders a variety of materials on a wide range of topics such as sources and types of air pollution, air monitoring, air pollution mapping, emissions data, incentive funding, land use, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), transportation planning, and public participation – just to name a few. Additionally, in June 2018, CARB announced proposed awards of $10 million in Community Air Grants to 25 community groups and three Native American Tribes, many of which contained community education and training components.
- Work with community members to identify the best ways to make information accessible and user-friendly. Some community members do not have internet and some may be charged for receiving texts; consider other options (e.g., bilingual radio, local television, automated phone calls).
- For the statewide system of annual emissions reporting, add text regarding the needs of the reporting entities (user-friendly with consistent programs and calculation methodologies).
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
CARB is building an online data portal that will allow community members to access the air monitoring data for their unique community and staff will work with community steering committees to determine data display and interpretation needs for this data portal. CARB staff agree that communicating results is critical, and the monitoring plan requirements state that the community steering committee must establish a process for systematic information sharing and communication. These committees can decide on the best communication methods for their communities, beyond internet websites.
CARB is also working with air districts to develop a regulation that will require facilities to report their emissions annually. To make this data more transparent to the public, CARB is creating a user-friendly emissions reporting system that will allow more straight-forward accessibility to facility-level data for criteria air pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gases. CARB’s longer term plans will also establish standard statewide consistent methods to quantify the emissions for greater comparability across the state. In addition, CARB has future plans to augment its current Pollution Mapping Tool to include emissions at the community level.
To help ensure Program-wide transparency, CARB maintains an online Resource Center that compiles documents, tools, and information and make them readily available to the public (e.g., community identification information, air quality data and visualization tools, source apportionment tools, outreach information, the Technology Clearinghouse, incentives, etc.).
- Set consistent, specific requirements for how all monitoring plans and community emissions reduction programs are to achieve desired outcomes (including clear goals, deadlines, and minimum standards).
- Focus on immediate action in communities where the nature of the air pollution burden and contributing sources are well known.
- Include strong enforcement of rules and regulations.
- Commenters asked for more clarity and detail on emission reduction measures. They wanted the state strategy to include a menu of clear, specific measures that will actually reduce emissions and an outline of the specific types of measures that must be included in community emissions reduction programs. Recommendations included: CARB adopting direct and indirect regulations on trucks and freight equipment; districts adopting indirect source review rules; enforceable agreements; and clarification on the role of incentives to accelerate turnover.
- Use an integrated approach that builds on and complements existing plans and emission reduction efforts for criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gases (e.g., Scoping Plan, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Reduction Strategy, State Implementation Plan, California Sustainable Freight Action Plan). Clarify that planning efforts should drive adoption of regulations to control emissions.
- Greenhouse gas reductions are outside the scope of AB 617.
- Ensure flexibility of the Program and allow it to adapt, based on new information, technologies, and monitoring data.
- Provide assistance through incentive funding programs for small businesses that are part of the community to support their efforts to reduce emissions and enhance outreach efforts to connect small business owners to available resources.
- Ensure agricultural operations are eligible for incentive funding.
- Need statewide regulations for oil and gas production and refineries, as well as agriculture, dairy, and livestock operations.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint establishes consistent, specific requirements for all community emissions reductions programs (see the “Community Emissions Reduction Programs” section below for additional details on these requirements).
CARB agrees that strong enforcement is critical for achieving expected reductions from regulations, and staff are working to enhance enforcement efforts in burdened communities to support Program implementation. To help address enforcement issues, CARB and air districts will work together to form a dedicated team to conduct community-level outreach.
Regarding specific measures for community emission reduction programs, CARB staff have included requirements for the types of strategies and process the air districts must undertake when developing the community emission reduction programs. The strategy types (regulations, incentives, permitting, facility risk reduction, enforcement, land use, transportation planning, and mitigation) are described in the Blueprint. CARB staff will also be developing other, new measures to improve energy efficiency, require cleaner fuels, and reduce climate super pollutants, which can also help reduce air pollution in impacted communities and will closely coordinate with air districts on the development of any new air district regulations, including indirect source review rules. In addition, CARB staff are working to populate the Resource Center with a list of specific strategies, tools, and resources currently available as a starting point for air district’s discussions with the steering committee. CARB will coordinate mobile source measures with air district efforts to provide a cohesive approach.
CARB received comments both for and against incorporating greenhouse gas reduction efforts into the Program. CARB’s programs and policies use an integrated approach focused on achieving criteria air pollutant air quality standards, minimizing health impacts from toxic air contaminants, and reaching climate goals. While the Program does not require specific greenhouse gas reduction measures, it is expected that the Climate Change Scoping Plan and other statewide plans will result in new regulations and companion policies that could achieve additional emissions reductions within the State’s most heavily burdened communities.
Staff agree that the Program should adapt and incorporate learnings during implementation. Early community monitoring plans and community emissions reduction programs will serve as models for communities selected in subsequent years.
Regarding incentives for small businesses and agricultural operations, it is expected that community steering committees will provide a forum for engagement with local businesses and an opportunity to connect them with incentive programs. CARB also maintains a publicly accessible, searchable database of incentive and other funding opportunities that is updated weekly. This database is found at:
The Blueprint includes strategies based on which agencies have primary authority to take action. Oil and gas operations contribute to the cumulative exposure burden in many communities around the State. Under AB 617, air districts are required to establish expedited schedules for pollution controls on industrial sources subject to cap-and-trade. The air districts are developing these schedules now, which must be adopted by January 1, 2019 and implemented by 2023. This will mean new pollution controls on some oil & gas sources across the State. In addition to pollution controls, increased setback distances between sources and communities can reduce impacts, including from oil and gas operations. The Blueprint requires air districts to, as appropriate, engage with local land use authorities to identify strategies that can reduce exposure from the specific sources impacting the community, including the consideration of mandatory setbacks. Finally, CARB is collecting data to better understand the impacts of oil and gas operations in neighborhoods through the Study of Neighborhood Air near Petroleum Sources (SNAPS) program.
Several of the communities selected in the first year are rural communities which are impacted by a variety of sources. In addition to CARB’s existing incentive programs and regulations under development, monitoring and community emissions reduction programs in rural areas will allow us to better understand the sources impacting these communities, including potential community concerns related to agricultural sources, and apply tailored solutions. Lessons from these communities can be adapted across the State
The Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Reduction Strategy includes a suite of emissions reduction strategies that focuses on sources of fugitive greenhouse gases and other pollutants that can be found within or around various high cumulative burden communities, including some oil and gas production and dairy and livestock operations. Some of the strategies focused on climate pollutants also provide opportunities to reduce criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants. In developing these strategies, CARB will seek to maximize co-benefits through robust community engagement.
CARB will continue to develop coordinated strategies that leverage resources, accelerate action at the community level and support healthier, more sustainable communities.
Zero Emission Technologies
- Many commenters supported the use of zero emission technologies and recommendations included: adopt regulations that require zero emission technology and infrastructure; promote zero emission alternatives; support local campaigns for zero emission transportation corridors; and prioritize emission reduction strategies for zero emission.
- Other commenters disagreed with the emphasis on zero emission technologies and stated that the Program should be technology neutral with a focus on deploying cost-effective technologies (e.g., near-zero, ultra-low NOx engines, filters).
- CARB should coordinate with agencies such as California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure electric vehicle and charging infrastructure support for transition to zero emission, especially medium and heavy duty trucks and cargo handling equipment.
- CARB must use the mandate of AB 617 to set aggressive targets in transportation and electrification and enhancing clean mobility.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint includes a focus on zero emission technologies where feasible and describes statewide actions that include new regulatory measures for zero emission mobile source technologies. In addition, the Technology Clearinghouse in the online Resource Center provides information on zero emission and next generation technologies. CARB has adopted a number of plans and policies focused on transitioning to zero emission vehicles and equipment for a broad range of emission sources. During the next few years, CARB staff will be working with stakeholders to develop regulations that require this transition, along with incentives and other complementary measures to support zero emissions.
When developing community emissions reduction programs, air districts are required to review technology options that can deliver emissions reductions in the community, with a focus zero emission technologies. Air districts must consider strategies that include regulations, enforcement, incentive programs, engagement on land use and transportation planning, and mitigation measures. For land use and transportation planning strategies, air districts must identify community-specific transportation strategies to promote, such as the incorporation of zero emission vehicles and equipment into project development, construction, and operation. After evaluating potential strategies, there may be cases where community steering groups decide that near-zero options will provide near-term benefits.
CARB staff believe that zero emission technologies are essential for meeting the State’s long-term air quality and climate goals and for reducing community-level risk. Through CARB’s regulatory development process, staff conduct a detailed economic analysis and establish emissions standards which enable the use of more than one technology.
The Governor's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan outlines State strategies to increase ZEV infrastructure and prepare California for ZEVs. CARB is evaluating public and workplace charging infrastructure to find models that work best for increasing the purchase and use of plug-in electric vehicles, as well as increasing the use of clean energy sources for transportation.
The fiscal year 2018-2019 budget includes an additional $245 million of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds for continued support of early action incentive programs to reduce emissions within impacted communities. Similar to the fiscal year 2017-2018 funding, this funding focuses on purchasing cleaner vehicles and equipment, prioritizing zero emission equipment, and the ability to purchase infrastructure to support zero emission vehicles, with a priority for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Unlike the funding appropriated for fiscal year 2017-2018, however, this funding can also be used to reduce emissions from stationary sources.
To enhance clean mobility, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is developing and deploying alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies in support of the State’s climate change goals. CEC has an annual program budget of approximately $100 million to support projects that improve medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies, retrofit medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicle fleets, and expand infrastructure connected with existing fleets, public transit, and transportation corridors.
CARB’s Zero- and Near-Zero Emission Freight Facilities Project provides up to $150 million in funding to support bold, transformative emission reduction strategies that can be emulated throughout freight facilities statewide. At least $50 million of the total funding will be spent directly on zero- and near zero-emission warehouses. These projects will holistically reduce greenhouse gas, criteria pollutant, and toxic air contaminant emissions in and around freight facilities and will provide economic, environmental, and public health benefits to disadvantaged and low-income communities.
Regulations on Local Policies
- Include city and county government participation, including land-use planners, in the development and implementation of the Program, along with the development of improved land use tools and guidance to support community education and advocacy.
- CARB and districts should take action regarding land use issues (e.g., expansions of I-710 and oil refineries; truck routes; setback policies including implementation of 2500’ setbacks from oil and gas wells; local planning measures).
- Place a moratorium on permitting new sources in communities that are already heavily impacted and require mandatory setbacks from significant sources such as oil and gas operations. Air districts should deny any permit that would substantially increase exposures.
- Avoid creating new local requirements and ordinances to prevent potential job losses and economic impacts in affected communities.
- Need clear acknowledgement of CARB and air district authorities and jurisdictions.
- CARB should update its Air Quality and Land Use Handbook to reflect mandates of AB 617 and current tools and recommendations for applying cumulative impacts analysis.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
Land use and transportation policies are primarily under the jurisdiction of local and regional government agencies, which makes it more challenging for CARB and the air districts to participate in decisions related to these policies (e.g., mandatory setbacks, highway expansions, moratoriums on permitting new sources, adoption of local ordinances). AB 617 provided no new land use authority to CARB or the air districts. However, the Blueprint emphasizes collaborative relationships between all stakeholders including land use decision makers, and strongly encourages community steering committees to involve local land use planning agencies in the committee. It is clear that local land use policies and decisions can have a significant impact on the implementation of community emissions reduction programs and identifies a variety of mechanisms and requirements to actively engage with local agencies on land use policies and transportation planning. When developing community emissions reduction programs, air districts are required to identify strategies and approaches for engaging with other public agencies to support exposure reduction policies and practices. For example, CARB and air districts use the CEQA process to advocate for design and mitigation measures that will minimize community health impacts from freight facilities, transportation projects, and other sources.
Regarding statewide regulations, CARB is pursuing new strategies for emissions reduction in communities, including freight-related risk reduction measures, airborne toxic control measures, and other strategies to further reduce emissions and exposure. For more detail on the new strategies for emissions reduction in communities, please refer to the Blueprint, Appendix D, Figure D-1. CARB will work with stakeholders through a public process to develop and implement regulations, incentive programs and other measures to achieve further emission reductions from these sources. CARB’s online statewide clearinghouse will include information on the best rules and measures governing mobile sources and area sources.
Regarding authorities and jurisdictions, the Blueprint has been updated to more clearly define these (see page 24 of the Blueprint).
Regarding guidance on land use, CARB participates in the environmental review process and identifies best practices, cleaner technologies and design standards to reduce community impacts for some of the new and modified facilities throughout the State. The online Resource Center also contains information dedicated to Land Use and CEQA, including tools and resources, best practices, mitigation strategies and municipal ordinances. Finally, CARB is developing a Freight Facilities Handbook to provide guidance for siting, design, and operational characteristics of freight facilities and freight-related infrastructure projects.
Community Identification and Selection
- Provide transparency and detail on how stakeholders can nominate communities, including requirements for community engagement, and how CARB will identify, assess, and prioritize communities. The process should be standardized, rigorous, technically accurate, and based on comprehensive and documented data.
- Ensure that communities that self-nominate receive the same level of technical assessment as recommendations provided by air districts. One commenter also expressed concern that community-self nominations would complicate the process.
- Ensure all areas of the State are covered, including rural and unincorporated areas.
- Commenters provided recommendations on the use of different data sources. This included consideration of additional data sources such as the California Healthy Places Index, air district community investigation data, proximity to certain types of sources, and local health data, as well as recommendations for exclusion of some data sources such as public health or socioeconomic factors, and concerns on the use of enforcement data.
- Commenters suggested CARB provide guidance on how to rank factors and data sources and avoid double-counting of data sources that capture the same indicator.
- Specify the number of communities to be selected in the first round and subsequent rounds and clarify how CARB will bring in additional communities over time and a method to replicate the successes of early communities.
- Remove the selection criteria of regional diversity and varying air pollution sources because they are beyond the scope of the statute.
- Specify how CARB will define a “community”.
- Some commenters provided suggestions that not all communities require additional monitoring, while others recommended that communities selected for emissions reduction programs be a subset of communities selected for air monitoring.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint establishes a detailed, standardized process and requirements for identifying, assessing, and selecting communities. Air districts, community members, and CARB coordinate to develop a broad list of communities for inclusion in the Program. The process in the Blueprint also includes: requirements for community engagement, the factors and data sources that are used to complete a statewide assessment of all communities on the list, and the criteria CARB will use to develop recommendations for selected communities for consideration by CARB’s Board.
Including a process for community-self nominations is critical to ensure the list of communities reflects the first-hand knowledge of local air quality impacts and the concerns of community members. CARB staff will ensure that communities that self‑nominate are included in the robust technical assessments conducted by CARB and the air districts so that all communities receive equal consideration. CARB staff will also review existing air pollution, health and environmental data to identify any gaps, including any in rural and unincorporated areas of the State, and supplement the lists received from community members and air districts, as appropriate, to ensure a comprehensive statewide list that informs the selection process is established.
Staff’s assessment of the cumulative exposure burden in each of the recommended communities is based on six factors that characterize air pollution exposure, sensitive populations, and other measures of vulnerability to air pollution such as socioeconomic factors and public health indicators related to air pollution. Staff believes each of these factors are essential to assessing exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of air pollution. The data to assess these factors is drawn from both statewide and local/regional datasets to provide a comprehensive assessment. Staff has added the California Healthy Places Index to the list of potential data sources, and dropped consideration of enforcement data. CARB developed and posted on the Program website, a table of metrics summarizing the data used for this assessment in June 2018. This table of metrics can be found on the Program website at:
CARB staff is recommending 10 communities in total for deployment of community air monitoring, preparation of community emissions reduction programs, or a combination of both in the first year. These 10 communities are consistent with the statutory criteria of selecting communities with high cumulative exposure burdens for toxic air contaminants and criteria air pollutants, and prioritizing disadvantaged communities and sensitive receptor locations. Along with air district and community-based recommendations for first year communities, staff considered regional diversity to build capacity and support existing community-led solutions in multiple air districts, and recommended a mix of communities with varying air pollution sources to support development of a range of emission reductions strategies that can be transferred to other, similar communities. While these selection criteria are not specifically prescribed by statute, staff believes the transfer of learnings from community to community will be critical to success for the Program. Communities not selected in year one will remain in consideration for future selection.
The recommended communities are diverse in geographic size and population density and reflect a suite of pollution sources that are illustrative of other highly burdened communities in the State. These communities experience impacts from a range of pollution source types, including freight operations and port activities, large stationary sources including oil refineries, urban mixes of freeway corridors and small industry, oil and gas operations, rural sources, and international border impacts. See the 2018 Community Recommendations Staff Report for more information, which can be found on the Program website at:
Community Air Monitoring
- Focus on action-oriented air monitoring to provide community-specific information on air quality levels and establish criteria for developing and implementing community air monitoring. This will help ensure that monitoring data support sound decision-making and action.
- Provide clear and specific guidance to air districts on minimum requirements for monitoring (pollutants, prioritizing locations, community input).
- Ensure air monitoring is managed by air districts, and use sampling protocols and equipment compatible with current air district methods.
- Avoid duplication of air monitoring efforts. Establish minimum data quality requirements and provide standardized guidance on interpretation of monitoring data, estimating cumulative air toxics risk at the community level, and data exchange.
- Screen and properly characterize monitoring data before releasing to the public in order to avoid misinterpretation and misuse.
- Collaborate with the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) on risk communication guidance.
- Build on existing monitoring resources (e.g., U.S. EPA, South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)). The monitoring for CARB’s Study of Neighborhood Air near Petroleum Sources (SNAPS) should be aligned with the monitoring for the Community Air Protection Program.
- Some commenters encouraged a focus on low-cost, real time air monitoring sensors and consideration of emerging technologies for mobile monitoring and fence-line monitoring. Other commenters expressed concerns about accuracy and proficiency with low-cost equipment.
- CARB should provide education and technical support for community-based organizations, beyond online monitoring resources.
- CARB should track metrics to assess the effectiveness of the online data portal (e.g., website traffic, other analytics).
- Provide funding for communities to conduct their own monitoring and hire independent technical experts.
- Community steering committees should have a role in communicating monitoring results.
- Include criteria for districts to determine when/whether to cease monitoring.
- Develop a simple matrix that describes how different monitoring approaches match different objectives.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint contains detailed requirements for developing community air monitoring plans and establishing community monitoring systems. These requirements include, but are not limited to: engagement of community members; developing community-specific objectives; defining data quality objectives; selecting monitoring methods, equipment, and locations; developing procedures for quality control, field measurements, and data management; and communicating results. The Blueprint also contains a detailed evaluation checklist for community air monitoring with all of the required criteria. CARB staff agree that communicating results is critical and the monitoring plan requirements state that the community steering committee must establish a process for systematic information sharing and communication. To help ensure effective communication of monitoring results, CARB is working with community members, air districts, and affected industry to discuss data objectives, planned analysis, and mechanisms to display and interpret data. CARB staff will also be developing and maintaining an online data portal that lets the public access data from community air monitoring networks throughout California. This data portal will be available through the online Resource Center and will be compatible on both personal computers and mobile devices, with multi-lingual capabilities. Staff will be soliciting user feedback on the website and are planning to track several website metrics to assess the effectiveness of the portal.
The Blueprint affirms that planning and conducting community air monitoring in selected communities is a statutory responsibility of the air districts. Air districts will continue to conduct regional monitoring required to measure air quality according to federal ambient air quality standards. The addition of more localized community air monitoring is intended to identify exposures to different sources of toxics and air pollution not currently captured by regional air district monitoring.
In addition, Community Air Grants have been issued to provide funding that will support community-based organizations to participate in the implementation of AB 617. Several grants will provide funding for community air monitoring. CARB staff will be working with air districts and grantees to coordinate efforts implementing these grants. More information regarding the Community Air Grants can be found on the Program website at:
CARB staff will aim to provide real-time monitoring data when possible, understanding that there will be a wide variety of data being collected, and a variety of methods being used to collect it, due to differences in community air monitoring plans. When sharing raw data, CARB will identify it as such and will fully disclose any data processing procedures. For more detail about community air monitoring and the availability of real-time air monitoring data, please refer to Appendix F of the Blueprint, which can be found on the Program website at:
To support monitoring efforts, CARB’s online Resource Center includes a “Community Air Monitoring Toolbox” that houses educational materials and technical resources, and draws on many sources (e.g., U.S. EPA and SCAQMD), as appropriate. It is also expected that existing air monitoring efforts, such as the Study of Neighborhood Air near Petroleum Sources program, will provide valuable information for the Community Air Protection Program, and CARB staff are coordinating internally to share this information. The online technical resources includes evaluations of air sensors and reviews of air monitoring technologies, covering techniques that range from deploying dense networks of small low-cost air sensors to utilizing advanced remote sensing systems. These resources also provide insights on how to appropriately interpret and use the data residing in the data portal. For communities that want to conduct their own monitoring, the Community Air Grants Program provides funding directly to community organizations for participation in the Community Air Protection Program, capacity building and other activities, including community-operated air monitoring.
Regarding the comments requesting guidance on when/whether to cease monitoring and providing a matrix for monitoring/objectives, staff believe that the individual community air monitoring plans are the best place to address those details.
Community Emissions Reduction Programs
- Ensure that community emissions reduction programs result in real emission reductions and no increased emissions. Do not allow trading or retirement of emission reduction credits in lieu of real reductions or as a substitute for BARCT.
- Community emissions reduction programs should be required to adopt the strongest measures from the statewide strategy. They should also prioritize measures that communities want and support.
- Include a core regulatory focus through new rulemaking commitments by both CARB and local air districts, including a priority for zero emission technologies, to ensure the Program does not rely on incentive investments alone.
- Ensure a strong technical- and science-based foundation for addressing the most significant sources that contribute to elevated risk. Health risk may be driven by a number of small sources, so it’s important to identify all sources – not just large sources. Clarify that emission inventories, by themselves, do not inform exposures.
- Have clear metrics, goals, and timelines based on: stringent public health standards, air quality standards. Develop separate goals for criteria and toxics.
- Provide greater detail on health-based goals and how districts can work with stakeholders to establish achievable emission targets. Focus emission reductions on compounds that drive health risk; air quality management plans (AQMPs) and State Implementation Plans (SIPs) should manage criteria air pollutants.
- Community emissions reduction program documents should communicate how health risk from individual sources compares to background risk from all sources.
- CARB should publicly share the rubric for reviewing and assessing community emissions reduction programs.
- Add steps CARB will take to participate in the development and implementation of community emissions reduction programs. Also specify how CARB will implement the mobile source elements of community emissions reduction programs.
- Community emissions reduction program measures must be cost effective.
- Community identification and selection should not delay or prevent early actions.
- Enforcement should be consistent among communities within the same air district. Enforcement staff should not rely on emerging technologies (e.g., smartphone applications, low-cost monitors). Only CARB and air districts should make enforcement decisions; community representatives should not be directly involved in enforcement activities. Coordinating incentive programs should be included in community emissions reduction programs.
- CARB should provide written annual evaluations of whether or not community emissions reduction programs are meeting requirements, and provide a process to define immediate actions for any that are not.
- If the goals of a community monitoring plan or emissions reduction program have been met, the community should be removed from the Program.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint supports accountability by requiring clear metrics for tracking progress and measuring success of the Program. It also contains consistent, specific requirements for all community emissions reductions programs, including but not limited to: standard timelines; developing community partnerships and ensuring public engagement; conducting technical assessments; establishing emission reduction targets for criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants and proximity-based goals; identifying specific reduction strategies and developing an implementation schedule; creating an enforcement plan; and identifying metrics to track progress. Air districts must consider strategies that include regulations, permitting, facility risk reduction, enforcement, incentive programs, engagement on land use and transportation planning, and mitigation measures. In addition, districts may pursue any additional strategies as necessary to achieve reduction targets. When assessing potential regulatory strategies, air districts must evaluate the most stringent control limits and exemption and applicability provisions. For each reduction strategy, the program must identify the expected emissions and/or exposure reductions by pollutant, where applicable. The Blueprint includes a checklist that CARB will use to review community emissions reduction programs.
Staff agree that incentive programs play a key role in promoting adoption of next-generation technologies and accelerating their deployment to achieve immediate reductions. Community emissions reduction program must identify and discuss existing incentive funding programs that apply to sources in the community and how they will be used to accelerate deployment of the cleanest technologies within the selected communities. CARB will work with the air districts to leverage other incentive programs such as the Low Carbon Transportation, VW Mitigation, and other low-income equity funding, along with local district funding programs as community emissions reductions programs are developed and implemented. This will also include increasing outreach activities to community members and small business owners in the community to help deliver funding to those who need it the most.
While significant work remains to meet ozone standards in many areas of the State, ozone is a regional air pollutant that is driven by regional rather than localized source contributions. On the other hand, PM2.5 concentrations are a result of both regional and local contributions, and controlling PM2.5 at the local level can reduce disparities in exposure experienced in communities with high cumulative exposure burdens. The Blueprint requires that all community emissions reduction programs must support the goal of focusing and accelerating actions to achieve healthful levels of PM2.5. Exposure to toxic air contaminants can increase the risk of both acute and chronic health effects and cancer and many communities currently experience disproportionate exposures to toxic air contaminants. Therefore, the Blueprint also requires that community emission reduction programs must accelerate actions to reduce exposures to toxic air contaminants.
CARB staff agree that emission inventories are only one of the factors that are needed to determine which sources are contributing to high cumulative exposures. Statute requires that community emissions reduction programs include a methodology for assessing and identifying contributing sources and an estimate of their relative contribution to elevated exposures in impacted communities. To support this requirement, CARB staff have identified a suite of methodologies, which are available in the online Resource Center.
To help ensure that real emission reductions are achieved, all community emissions reduction programs must identify the expected emissions and/or exposure reductions by pollutant for each reduction strategy and identify metrics to track progress in achieving reductions. AB 617 requires the air districts to report annually on the community emissions reduction programs. CARB has included minimum requirements for these annual reports and will review them to assess progress towards achieving targets. In addition, AB 617 specifically requires that air districts adopt an expedited schedule for implementation of BARCT. While AB 617 does not exclude the use of emission reduction credits, under existing statute they must be reviewed and air districts must submit annual reports, which can provide a mechanism for assessing whether local emission reductions are achieved.
There are several areas where CARB will participate in the development and implementation of community emissions reduction programs (e.g., through observation of steering committees, when reviewing all community emission reduction programs, during the annual community selection process, etc.). CARB is also responsible for mobile source measures that will help achieve community-level emission reductions. CARB will utilize a public process for the consideration of the community emissions reduction programs, and present the programs to CARB’s Governing Board for approval during a public Board hearing.
Regarding health-based goals and health standards, improving public health is the foundation of the Community Air Protection Program. Reducing emissions and improving air quality in overburdened communities will lessen the cumulative impacts that air pollution has on public health. CARB is coordinating with public health departments and will organize and provide links to publicly available data through the online Resource Center, as well as index past, current, and proposed community health projects. CARB, air districts, and members of the community can use this information when working with various agencies to ensure that health related issues inform policy decisions affecting their community. CARB also recommends that representatives from local health departments be included on the community steering committees to provide their expertise regarding the unique public health challenges facing the communities in their jurisdictions. Community emissions reductions programs will determine emissions reduction targets to achieve health-based air quality objectives.
Regarding background risk, community emissions reduction programs must conduct a technical assessment. One of the elements in the assessment is a summary of the community-level inventory and source attribution analysis, which includes the share of air pollution driven by regional or background pollution versus from sources located directly in the community.
Cost-effectiveness information associated with air district technology determinations will be made available to the public in the Technology Clearinghouse. This information will help to provide context on technology selection. For applicable strategies included in the community emissions reduction programs, the air districts are also required to consider and report on cost-effectiveness.
Staff agree that community identification and selection should not delay or prevent early actions. The Blueprint’s program elements include identifying new statewide strategies in addition to the individual community emissions reduction programs to provide benefits across all highly impacted communities, along with a focus on early action within the community emissions reduction programs.
Enforcement is a critical issue and all community emissions reduction programs must include an enforcement plan that is tailored to each community. While CARB and air districts will make the final enforcement decisions, enforcement efforts will require coordination between community members, CARB, air districts, and facility or equipment owners. Community members can play an active role in identifying issues, and emerging technology can provide information that may help CARB and air district staff investigate potential violations.
Statute requires air districts to develop annual progress reports on the status of implementation of their community emissions reduction programs. CARB staff will review the annual progress reports and report to CARB’s Governing Board on key community emissions reduction program milestones, including emissions reductions and regulatory action. CARB’s Governing Board will determine follow-up actions, if any.
In determining whether communities are no longer subject to Program requirements, staff believe that the individual community emissions reduction programs and the annual progress reports are the best place to address those details. For each of these programs, air districts are required to set specific emissions reduction targets to be met within five years, and CARB will evaluate annual progress reports that indicate whether the goals have been achieved.
- Establish consistent statewide technology determinations* as the baseline standards for air districts and community emissions reduction programs. *Technology Determinations include BACT, BARCT, and Best Available Control Technology for Toxics (T-BACT).
- Explain that there can be legitimate differences between districts regarding technology determinations*; these determinations must be consistent with Health and Safety Code requirements.
- Provide clear, specific dates and deadlines for air districts’ expedited schedules and implementation of BARCT.
- Remove references to technology switching, which would not qualify under the Health and Safety Code requirements for technology determinations.
- Convene a technical working group to advise staff on appropriate technologies.
- Change “cleanest” to “cleaner” technologies and add feasibility and cost-effectiveness.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
The Blueprint supports investments that advance and accelerate the deployment of the cleanest technologies within impacted communities. CARB will establish and maintain an online statewide Technology Clearinghouse of emissions performance levels for stationary sources (or BACT, BARCT, T-BACT). CARB will also include information on the best rules and measures governing mobile sources and area-wide sources. Under State law, air districts have been delegated the authority to issue permits to stationary sources and to take factors that may vary between air districts into account when determining the control technology to use on permitted sources. As a result, the technology determinations between air districts may also vary. Therefore, the Clearinghouse will not establish a single statewide BACT level that all air districts must follow, but it will allow users to compare the most stringent technologies deployed within air districts as well as differences among air districts in the factors used to determine these technologies.
AB 617 requires air districts to use the Technology Clearinghouse when updating their BACT determinations for stationary sources and it includes specific deadlines regarding BARCT implementation. In addition, districts must refer to the Clearinghouse when evaluating opportunities for new or amended measures to be included in community emissions reduction programs and evaluate the most stringent emissions limits and applicability provisions. CARB will also be including information regarding next generation technologies in future iterations of the Technology Clearinghouse to help support technology advancement.
CARB staff believe that zero emission technologies are essential for meeting the State’s long-term air quality and climate goals and for reducing community-level risk. It is expected that the regulatory process and associated economic analysis will address issues of feasibility and cost-effectiveness.
Comments that Cover Multiple Program Elements
- CARB should conduct an annual audit of district AB 617 funds.
- Describe what CARB will do if districts do not comply with Program requirements.
- Incorporate a strong focus on public health, including tracking of health indicators and improving the availability of public health information in the decision-making process.
- Add a section that addresses the funding needed for districts to implement AB 617 and for long-term Program implementation.
- The Blueprint should demonstrate severe consequences and penalties for industry polluters.
Summary of How CARB Staff Addressed the Comments
Regarding comments on enforcement of Program requirements, CARB will assess community emissions reduction programs submitted by air districts, and the document includes a checklist that CARB will use to determine the completeness and adequacy of each submitted program, which must be reviewed and approved by CARB’s Governing Board. CARB staff will also review the annual progress reports from air districts and will provide regular updates to CARB’s Governing Board on community emissions reduction program progress.
Regarding comments on auditing and oversight, CARB will review the air district’s community emissions reduction programs and annual progress reports, and oversee ongoing Program implementation. The Blueprint also requires air districts to track annual metrics for the dollar amount invested and number of projects implemented in and/or benefitting the community. CARB is working with air districts to distribute the Community Air Protection grants through the Carl Moyer Program, with a focus on achieving early reductions from mobile sources. Since CARB regularly conducts detailed reviews of the air districts’ Moyer programs, it is expected that future reviews will include the Community Air Protection grants. Broader financial auditing that goes beyond the annual progress reports and Moyer reviews would be under the jurisdiction of the California State Auditor.
The Blueprint includes a discussion on the importance of tracking and analyzing public health data. Reducing emissions and improving air quality in overburdened communities will lessen the cumulative impacts that air pollution has on public health. CARB, in coordination with public health departments, will organize and provide links to publicly available data through the online Resource Center, as well as index past, current, and proposed community health projects. CARB, air districts, and members of the community can use this information when working with various agencies to ensure that health related issues inform policy decisions affecting their community. The Blueprint also recommends that representatives from local health departments be included on the community steering committees to provide their expertise regarding the unique public health challenges facing the communities in their jurisdictions. CARB is including public health indicators as criteria that will be used in the community identification and selection process. Community emissions reductions programs will determine emissions reduction targets to achieve health-based air quality objectives.
While the Legislature has appropriated funding for initial development efforts underway, the Blueprint notes that funding for continued implementation will also be critical to ensure Program success.
The Blueprint states that AB 617 includes requirements for increased penalties for violations of control limits. Enforcing regulations is critical to achieving regional and local air quality goals, and CARB and the air districts will work together to implement new enforcement strategies. Community emissions reduction programs will work to address existing compliance issues impacting the community and ensure that new strategies achieve emissions reductions through:
- Setting specific goals to improve compliance.
- Developing and supporting a dedicated enforcement team to conduct
- Establishing near-term enforcement strategies for existing air quality rules and regulations.
- Developing and implementing an enforcement plan that assesses existing
non-compliance issues, identifies specific approaches to enhance complaint reporting and compliance, develops a process to track enforcement activities and identify solutions, and discusses enforcement mechanisms for new strategies.
 Assembly Bill 617, Garcia, C., Chapter 136, Statutes of 2017, modified the California Health and Safety Code, amending § 40920.6, § 42400, and § 42402, and adding § 39607.1, § 40920.8, § 42411, § 42705.5, and § 44391.2.
 Members of the multi-stakeholder consultation group include representatives from environmental justice organizations, air districts, affected industry, academic institutions, public health organizations, and local and tribal governments. A roster of consultation group members is available at: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/Community-Air-Protection-Program.
 This discussion generally describes the state of the law; however, this general discussion is not intended as binding or comprehensive and interested readers should refer to regulatory determinations in particular cases and rulemakings for further details.