CARB approves first 5-year strategy update for its equity-driven Community Air Protection Program
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today approved the first five-year update to the statewide strategy for the Community Air Protection Program (CAPP), an innovative effort designed to improve air quality at the local scale in collaboration with residents.
The updated strategy, known as Blueprint 2.0, adds three new tools to the program: the use of community air grants to support local emissions-reduction plans; flexibility in the use of incentives funds to meet community goals; and community-focused enforcement.
CAPP works by putting residents in disadvantaged communities at the decision-making table alongside staff from local air districts in what the Blueprint calls “Community Steering Committees.” Together, committee members identify the issues and sources of pollution that create significant air quality challenges and work collaboratively to find solutions that address the community’s concerns with local air pollution. The updated strategy both reinforces the commitment of CARB and air districts to reduce air pollution in the 19 communities currently in the program and creates new pathways to support the over 60 communities that have been consistently nominated for the program.
“Blueprint 2.0 is an example of equity-driven innovation that puts a spotlight on the environmental challenges that overburdened communities face and engages residents so that solutions are informed by their priorities and needs,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “With today’s vote, we expanded the tools that residents have to work toward cleaner air and healthier communities.”
Since the program was launched in 2018, communities have prioritized actions that range from replacing dirty diesel engines, installing zero-emission infrastructure, expanding the use of air filters to other sensitive locations such as day cares and residences, and implementing land-use related projects such as truck rerouting studies and vegetative barrier projects. Through incentives, the Community Air Protection Program has contributed significant emissions reductions. CARB estimates that statewide since 2018, these reductions include 17,100 tons of nitric oxide (NOx), 1,390 tons of Reactive Organic Gases and 790 tons of particulate matter. Over a third of those reductions have taken place in selected communities, which represent close to 4 million Californians or 10% of the state’s population.
The first Blueprint was approved by the Board in 2018 after the passage of AB 617 in 2017, which provided guidance for air districts and communities for community-driven efforts that would reduce air pollution in communities affected by a high cumulative exposure burden.
Currently, there are 19 communities in the program with most working with their local air district to develop or implement plans to reduce emissions and exposures across the state, including in South Los Angeles, Arvin/Lamont, the International Border Community and East Oakland.
Together, the approved plans developed by the communities and approved by CARB’s Board include hundreds of actions. Examples include:
- Portside Environmental Justice Communities: San Diego’s Portside communities discussed and prioritized specific actions to reduce emissions from pollution sources such as those related to the port. To address this priority, the Port of San Diego and the Air District worked to put in place the nation's first all-electric tugboat, which will reduce 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, and the nation's first pair of all-electric mobile harbor cranes.
- Wilmington/Carson/West Long Beach: Emissions from oil and gas wells are a priority for these communities and monitoring revealed elevated emissions. The South Coast Air Quality Management District conducted 51 inspections, resulting in 21 notices of violation.
- Los Angeles: More than 160 signs were posted in communities near the Wilmington and Boyle Heights communities, which sit alongside the port and near industrial areas, respectively, to inform truck drivers that idling was prohibited.
- El Centro-Heber-Calexico Corridor: Imperial County’s corridor communities include actions that reduce emissions and exposure to children such as providing new air filters in schools, school bus electrification, as well as projects to pave roads in the community.
- San Joaquin Valley: Each of the selected San Joaquin Valley communities have conducted truck-route studies to help inform options on alternative routes that can be used by heavy-duty trucks to remove the impact of their operations in heavily populated communities.
- West Oakland: Bay Area’s West Oakland community focused its efforts on moving toward a zero-emission port, reducing car trips and road dust, and cleaning up local industry. Its plan has led to actions that includes the replacement of two locomotives with cleaner alternatives, which will achieve a 90% reduction in particulate matter emissions, and the introduction of 15 electric buses by the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District to service the area.
CAPP incentives may be used by air districts as one strategy to reduce emissions. In the first year of the program, the CARB Board directed that at least 70% of funds be spent in disadvantaged communities and 80% in low-income communities statewide. Air districts have significantly exceeded this requirement with, to date, 94% of Community Air Protection incentives spent in disadvantaged and low-income communities across the state, with about 40% spent in communities identified for the program. An interactive dashboard is available to see where CAPP incentives have been used across the state.
In April 2024, CARB will finalize proposed changes to increase flexibility for air districts in the use of CAPP incentives—to allow air districts to replicate the types of projects developed by selected communities in any disadvantaged and low-income community across the state.
Related Community Action Efforts
Today’s action is just one way CARB is committed to reducing the disproportionate impacts of air pollution in disadvantaged communities. Other recent actions include the following:
- To date, CARB has awarded over $4 million in supplemental environmental projects in communities included in the Community Air Protection Program.
- CARB released a Request for Information in September to support of the state’s $30 million Statewide Mobile Monitoring Initiative, in part aimed at supporting communities that have been consistently nominated for the program.