Motorists To Pay Ozone 'Penalty' in Central Valley

In a unanimous vote on Oct. 21, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approved another 'first' air quality measure not done elsewhere: They supported charging Valley motorists for paying the $29 million ozone penalty set by the E.P.A.

But the controversy is not settled with the measure's passage as environmental justice advocates appear ready to take the decision to court.

"The decision, first of its kind in the nation, would add $12 to vehicle registration fees in the Valley beginning next year -- if air-quality activists don't successfully challenge it in court. The penalty was triggered when the region missed an ozone cleanup deadline this year."

The region's chronic bad air has caused the air district to often be the first to approve controversial clean-air measures in California and the nation, including wood-burning bans when necessary, and an Indirect Source Regulation that charges developers for the vehicle trips from new developments.

"Environmental activists already have challenged that EPA advice in federal court. They say the federal Clean Air Act clearly intended the penalty for businesses, calling it an incentive for them to reduce pollution."

Thanks to Tom Frantz

Full Story: Valley motorists set to pay $29 million bad-air penalty



Irvin Dawid's picture

AP: Motorists To Pay Tab For Big Polluters

That's the way opponents of the penalty registration fee view the $12 charge - and it's also the way AP saw it, judging by the title of their short article (probably taken from the Fresno Bee one posted above):
Motorists will pay for business dirty-air fine: "Motorists are being charged a $12 vehicle registration fee to pay for the $29 million dirty-air penalty assessed pollution-belching San Joaquin Valley businesses....(continues)"

The penalty, technically referred to as a Section 185 fee because that is where it is defined in the federal Clean Air Act, has previously ONLY be applied to stationary sources, e.g. industry - and supposedly if they can reduce their emissions - they won't have to pay - unlike motorists who ALL MUST pay the fee, regardless of type of vehicle or miles driven.

It all comes down to 'who pays' - it will be interesting to see how the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District penalty registration fee holds up in court - other air districts are watching!
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Irvin Dawid's picture

Motorists responsible for only 9% of Valley Ozone pollution?

To my surprise and bewilderment - apparently it is true. At same time, TRANSPORTATION accounts for a whopping 81.4%! Yep, all those truck, trains, and a vehicle-type that transportation activists don't usually think about - the off-road construction vehicle, are MAJOR sources of ozone pollution.

Note: ozone is produced in the atmosphere, so the ozone precursor, nitrogen oxide, emitted at the tailpipe/smokestack, is the metric used.

The largest source of NOX pollution is heavy duty trucks - in the Central Valley they emit 45% of NOX, while stationary sources emit 15%.

All the above factoids, and more, can be read in Modesto Bee: Critics: Valley air fee misses dirtiest, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010, by Mark Grossi, who also wrote the article summarized above.

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