California Air and Climate: Bay Area Methane; CARB Bans Refrigerants, Implements Community Air Protection and Approves Cap-and-Trade Amendments

California Air and Climate: Bay Area Methane; CARB Bans Refrigerants, Implements Community Air Protection and Approves Cap-and-Trade Amendments

April 2018
Darrin D. Gambelin, Nicole M. Martin
Vol. 1

BAAQMD Developing Rules to Regulate Methane Emission

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (“BAAQMD”), as part of its Methane Strategy, is pursuing rules to address methane emissions from several source categories.  BAAQMD has noted that methane is the second most prolific greenhouse gas emitted in the District, consisting of 10% of emissions and that three categories of sources in the District emit approximately 84% of all methane – landfills (53%), livestock (16%) and natural gas production and distribution (15%).

The forthcoming rules include Regulation 13-1, which will regulate “significant” methane releases from all sources.  Workshops for Regulation 13-1, initially scheduled for April, have been postponed. BAAQMD also plans to hold workshops in July 2018 to introduce a proposed rule to reduce emissions of methane, VOC, and N2O from storing, transferring and processing organic waste at composting, anaerobic digestion and other waste related facilities.  Also coming soon, BAAQMD plans to review its current landfill rule (Regulation 8-34), last amended in 2005, to address methane emissions.

CARB Adopts Rules Banning Refrigerants

At its March 23, 2018 meeting, California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) approved new rules requiring the phase-out of certain products containing hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”), which are potent greenhouse gases.  The HFC containing products affected are found in refrigeration units and foams.  CARB’s rules are modeled after U.S. EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (“SNAP”) regulations that were vacated by the D.C. Circuit Court last year. In addition to CARB’s adoption of the HFC rules, legislation continues to advance in the California Senate (SB 1013) that would authorize CARB to consider banning additional refrigerants.

CARB and California Air Districts Move Forward with Implementation of the Community Air Protection Program

AB 617, adopted last year as a companion bill to the re-authorization of California’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, established the Community Air Protection Program (“CAPP”) to address areas in the state with the highest cumulative exposures to criteria and toxic air pollutants.  CARB plans to release the CAPP Framework document, describing the program, in May 2018 for public comment.  Meanwhile, air districts are holding community meetings focused on identifying communities that will be the target of CAPP.  Factors that will be considered in listing these communities include concentrations of criteria and toxic air pollutants, sensitive receptors (e.g., schools, day care centers, and hospitals), density of emission sources (stationary and mobile), cancer risk, and socio-economic factors.   By April 30, 2018 air districts will submit draft lists of communities to be included in the CAPP to CARB with final lists submitted by July 31. CARB plans to consider these lists for adoption, as well as the CAPP Framework, at its September 2018 meeting.  In 2019, the air districts will be required to develop and implement community air monitoring campaigns, including fence-line monitoring at select stationary sources, and emission reduction programs in these communities.  AB 617 also requires air districts to expedite adoption of best available retrofit control technology requirements for criteria pollutants at sources located in nonattainment areas.

CARB Approves Amendments to Cap-and-Trade Regulation

At its March 22, 2018 meeting, CARB adopted Resolution 18-4, approving for adoption certain amendments to the “California Cap on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Market-based Compliance Mechanisms,” commonly referred to as California’s Cap-and-Trade Regulation.(17 Cal. Code Regs. §§ 95800 to 96023). The amendments will: (1) “clarify that the Cap-and-Trade Regulation requires a successor entity after a change in ownership to be responsible for the outstanding, pre-transfer compliance obligation of the predecessor covered entity”; and (2) clarify the regulatory procedure for establishing the “Auction Reserve Price” for joint auctions, which now include participants in California, Québec and Ontario. CARB submitted the final rulemaking package to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on April 17, 2018 and OAL has until May 30, 2018 to make a final determination regarding the proposed regulatory revisions.

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