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Letter from Pat Baggerly to Ventura County Air Pollution District

September 11, 1996

Ventura County Air Pollution Control District Advisory Committee
800 South Victoria Avenue
Ventura, CA 93009

RE: United States Environmental Protection Agency "Project XL"

Dear Members of the Committee:

In essence, the proposed covenant between Imation (3M) and the various regulatory agencies can be described as a "pilot project" to provide "regulatory and policy flexibility (for Imation)." The covenant proposes to show that a corporation, Imation, can achieve better and more cost effective environmental compliance if given more freedom than provided by current regulatory requirements. Accountability is proposed by self-monitoring and reporting to the subject regulatory agencies (a routine practice already in place).

The covenant concept is new, untried, and unproven. The citizens of Ventura County, which is currently classified as a severe nonattainment area for ozone, will be the most affected by this experiment. The citizens of Ventura County must have effective and efficient means to be involved in this paradigm shift in regulatory practice. As it now stands, the covenant provides minimal public involvement prior to initiation of the formal agreement, and virtually no public participation after initiation.

The public is very wary of corporations, regulatory agencies, and the relationship between these two entities. In response to pressure from the regulated polluters, the regulatory agencies have minimized their efforts to strengthen environmental regulations. In fact, maintaining status quo is considered a victory at the local air pollution control agencies. Air toxics regulations in California have been gutted by reform bills and few, if any, effective Rules to attain the Federal and State ozone standards have been adopted in the past few years.

Because of the existing pressures placed on the survival of the regulatory agencies, a covenant between the Imation Corporation and the already back-tracking regulatory agencies should make all Ventura County citizens feel uncomfortable. The main reason for this concern is the lack of public awareness of the specifics of implementing the covenant. In other words, as now drafted, the public must place all of their faith in the ability of the regulatory agencies, most notably the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD), to ensure that environmental compliance is achieved. With public participation and oversight virtually eliminated by the terms of the draft covenant, Imation will be better able to implement their own environmental solutions. In fact, the regulatory and policy flexibility provided by the covenant and effective public participation are currently mutually exclusive entities. The covenant diminishes oversight and participation below that required by current regulations.

The covenant is still in the draft stage and already the public has reason to be concerned about the ability of the regulatory agencies to ensure adequate environmental protection. Specifically, the VCAPCD is attempting to grant Imation Corporation 113.00 tons/year ROC emission reduction credits (ERCs) based on emission reductions from the 1985 period. This is clearly inconsistent with VCAPCD's own Rule 26, which would allow only 76.45 tons/year ROC ERCs based on the average actual emissions in any two consecutive years during the five years prior to the date of applying for the credits. Emission reduction credits are just what the name implies-credits to be used for new sources of air pollution. The larger the ERC value approved by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control Board, the greater the amount of air pollution will be forthcoming from new sources receiving the credits. The fact that the VCAPCD is advocating greater credits for future air pollution than their own Rule 26 allow is disturbing. We know that the VCAPCD is proposing more ERCs than are allowed under their own Rule because this topic is discussed in the District Staff Report. The covenant with Imation Corporation would not allow for this type of Staff Report.

VCAPCD Rule 26 would allow 76.45 tons/year ROC ERCs based on the average actual for the emissions in any two consecutive years during the five years prior to the date of applying for the credits. This implies that for a recent two-year period, Imation Corporation was emitting only about 38.2 tons per year ROC. Under the covenant, Imation Corporation will accept an emission cap of 150 tons/year of ROC. This implies that Imation Corporation can emit over 110 tons/year of ROC over what they are now emitting. This is in addition to the 113 tons/year of ROC ERCs that the VCAPCD intends to use for other future air pollution sources. The increased ROC emissions at Imation Corporation will most likely contain highly reactive ROCs, which can react photochemically to create proportionally more ozone in Ventura County's air than most other ROCs.

If Imation Corporation emits their cap of 150 tons/year of ROC and the VCAPCD grants ERCs of 113 tons/year of ROC, a total of 263 tons/year of ROC would be emitted. This is the amount that Imation Corporation is currently permitted to emit. This 263 tons/year level should be compared with the approximately 38 tons/year ROC that are currently emitted by Imation Corporation. It is clear that an additional 225 tons/year ROC would be emitted under the terms of the covenant. These additional ROC emissions will be adding to an already over-polluted airshed. Keep in mind that 1995-1996 measured ambient ozone levels exceed federal and state standards; the addition of more ROCs (much of them highly reactive) will certainly worsen the existing problem and interfere with attainment of the ozone standards. This is a reality check with current low emissions showing actual measured violations of air quality standards. It will only get worse with the emission increases proposed by Imation Corporation and the VCAPCD.

As mentioned at the Air Pollution Control District Advisory Committee Meeting, (August 27, 1996) a lot of companies would like to go back and calculate emissions for years when their emissions were much higher. The precedent-setting nature of this proposal could cause many companies to play the same game and cause large emission increases in Ventura County that are not part of the emission inventory or part of the Air Quality Management Plan. Where are the calcultions provided that will show the changes in the plans if the covenant is approved as proposed? This would cause significant adverse environmental impacts, and thorough environmental review (under the California Environmental Quality Act) should take place if the Board considers adopting this project as currently proposed.

Upon reading Rule 26 we do not see where Imation Corporation is eligible for any Emission Reduction Credits. Imation Corporation has not applied for Emission Reduction Credits under Rule 26. They have not even minimally complied with Rule 26 as has been required of other companies.

Deny the Covenant as proposed. Do not approve the Emission Reduction Credit Certificate for any amount until Imation Corporation has applied and complied with Rule 26. Increase the ability for the public to participate in the process through provisions for appealing decisions and general public notification (besides the Internet).

Sincerely yours,

Pat Baggerly

c: United States Environmental Protection Agency
California Air Resources Board

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