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U.S. EPA Works With California to Evaluate Air Pollution Control Technology/ Federal government requires San Joaquin Valley to review its air quality rules

Release Date: 01/09/2009
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270,

(SAN FRANCISCO -- 1/9/2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a ‘finding of failure to submit’ to the state of California for not meeting a federal Clean Air Act requirement in the San Joaquin Valley. The valley does not meet the federal health-based air quality standards for ozone.

    The EPA has found that the state has not submitted a state implementation plan that assures major stationary sources in the area are using the most current reasonably available control technology (RACT) to reduce their emissions. Late last year the state withdrew its initial RACT plan to determine whether local rules should be strengthened.

    While the valley’s air pollution control district already has in place a broad set of rules, the Clean Air Act requires areas to review and update their rules to assure they continue to provide the most stringent level of control that is reasonably available. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District was required to undertake this review as a result of its 2004 voluntary reclassification to “extreme” for the 1-hour ozone standard.

    The district has already begun working on its revised plan and expects to submit it to the EPA by this summer. The review will address both sources of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen which react in the atmosphere to form ozone. This plan revision will also be part of the valley’s efforts to meet the more stringent 8-hour ozone standard.

    The EPA defines RACT as the lowest emission limitation that a particular pollution source can meet by applying pollution control technology that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility.

    This action triggers sanction “clocks” under the Clean Air Act. The first sanction clock runs for 18 months – ending July 8, 2010. This sanction imposes a 2:1 ratio on offsets required from new major stationary sources. For example, for every ton of new air pollution emitted by a major stationary source, two tons of air pollution from another source must be reduced to offset it.

    The second sanction restricts the use of federal highway funds in the area, with the exception of certain safety and air quality projects. The sanction clock runs for 24 months – ending January 8, 2011.

    California can avoid sanctions by submitting a completed reasonably available control technology plan that meets the federal standard.

    More About Air Pollution Control Technology:

    Air pollution control technologies are designed to control stationary and mobile air pollution sources and to mitigate the effects of air pollutants in order to protect human health.

    Some examples of pollution control technology for major stationary pollution sources include:

    Baghouse: An air pollution control device that traps particulates by forcing gas streams through large fabric filters.
    Exhaust Gas Recirculation: An emission control method that involves recirculating exhaust gases from an engine back into the combustion chamber.
    Control Device (add-on): An air pollution control device such as a carbon absorber or thermal oxidizer that reduces the pollution in exhaust gas.
    Afterburner: An air pollution abatement device that removes undesirable organic gases through incineration.
    Low NOx Bruner: A burner designed for reducing nitrogen oxides formed through the combustion process.
    Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR): The process of injecting ammonia into a hot combustion gas stream and passing the resulting gases through a catalyst to reduce NOx formation.

    For more on the web please visit: