California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Oct. 13 filed a motion to intervene in support of South Coast Air Quality Management District’s rule requiring warehouses to reduce emissions from heavy sources of on-road pollution that visit those warehouses.
The SCAQMD rule regulates these “indirect sources” by requiring owners and operators of some of the largest warehouses in the state to take direct action to mitigate their emissions.
“This will reduce air pollution in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, help California meet state and federal air quality standards, improve the health of our communities, and promote environmental justice,” Bonta’s office said in a news release.
Fontana is one of several cities affected by the pollution associated with warehouses, Bonta has said previously.
However, members of the Fontana City Council have said that warehouses in Fontana meet the necessary air quality standards.
In fact, the city recently cited a study by the consulting firm Ramboll which said:
• Ozone exposure, nitrogen dioxide concentration, and particulate matter in Fontana are below the federal standards;
• Air toxic cancer risk has decreased by 76 percent from 1998 to 2018 and is expected to decrease by an additional 20 percent by 2023.
----- LAST MONTH, the California Trucking Association filed a lawsuit challenging the SCAQMD’s rule as outside the scope of the air district’s authority, preempted by federal law, and an unlawful tax.
In defending the SCAQMD rule, Bonta and CARB expect to argue that these claims are meritless and that state and federal law supports the SCAQMD’s authority to adopt the indirect source rule.
“California has long been a pioneer in the fight against climate change — and the Air District’s rule limiting warehouse pollution is no exception,” said Bonta. “The fact is: environmental justice and economic development are not mutually exclusive. There is no binary choice here. The Air District’s Indirect Source Rule will have tremendous benefits for those communities hardest hit by pollution, at a relatively low cost to industry. Today, I’m proud to stand in support of this effort to tackle the climate crisis and protect the health of Inland Empire and Los Angeles communities.”
“This is an environmental justice and public health issue,” said CARB Chair Liane M. Randolph. “The communities around these huge warehouse facilities have suffered for years from the effects of businesses and freight haulers who have all but ignored the community impacts of their enterprises. This Indirect Source Rule simply requires them to be much better neighbors. The rule is also part and parcel of local clean air plans developed under Assembly Bill 617 with CARB and South Coast staff, local residents, local businesses and other stakeholders to clean the air in and around these high-traffic routes and locations.”
----- IN RECENT YEARS, the proliferation of e-commerce and rising consumer expectations of rapid shipping have contributed to a boom in warehouse development, particularly in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Bonta’s office said. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as consumers have shifted away from in-person retail shopping.
“Unfortunately, the distribution of warehouse facilities — and resulting pollution — has occurred primarily in low-income communities and communities of color,” Bonta’s office said in the news release. “Once a new warehouse is built, the facilities and their associated activities, such as truck traffic, can cause a variety of negative impacts affecting public health. For example, diesel trucks visiting warehouses are substantial sources of nitrogen oxide — a primary precursor to smog formation that has been linked to respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, and lung irritation — and diesel particulate matter — a contributor to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and premature death.”
The SCAQMD’s indirect source rule requires existing and new warehouse facilities larger than 100,000 square feet to select from a menu of emissions-reducing activities, such as purchasing zero-emission vehicles, installing air filtration systems in nearby residences, and constructing rooftop solar panels.
“The rule is projected to create up to $2.7 billion in public health benefits, far outweighing industry’s projected compliance costs,” Bonta’s office said. “In just a decade, the rule is expected to prevent up to 300 deaths, 5,800 asthma attacks, and 20,000 lost work days.”