Local air quality regulators on May 4 ordered the development of new rules targeting warehouses, rail yards, the San Pedro ports, airports and new development.

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced it voted 7-6 to direct staff to write rules aimed at reducing smog-forming emissions from truck traffic to and from local warehouses (see related story “Southern California Warehouses May Have to Regulate Trucking Pollution”). The board also voted to design rules to lower emissions from rail yards, ports, airports and new developments.

The agency is under pressure to meet federal clean air standards for ground-level ozone and other pollutants. In order to meet the ozone standard by a 2023 deadline, smog-forming emissions will need to be reduced an additional 45 percent above and beyond emission reductions resulting from current regulations, the district said in a statement following the votes. To meet a more health-protective standard by 2031, emissions will need to be reduced by an additional 55 percent.

The May 4 votes set out a general policy direction; it will be up to district staff over the next several months – or possibly even years – to come up with specific rules and mechanisms to reduce emissions from each of these sources.

Unlike factories, emissions emanate from these facilities through sources outside their direct control, including trucks, trains and ships. So whatever rules are developed, the facilities will have to use indirect methods to control pollution, such as reducing the number of truck trips into or out of them.

The rules will also attempt to speed up the deployment of zero- and near-zero emission vehicles in all sectors, from trucks to trains to cargo-handling equipment through a combination of incentives and mandates.

“When it comes to meeting clean air standards, we have to take an ‘all of the above’ approach,” said Wayne Nastri, the district’s executive officer, in a statement. “These measures have the potential to further reduce emissions in some of the communities hardest hit by air pollution.”

One of the most controversial votes came on the warehouse rules. Business and industry groups have said that attempts to impose additional rules on warehouses could harm the local logistics industry and force the diversion of cargo to other regions. But neighborhood and environmental groups argued that warehouses are often located near poor neighborhoods where residents breathe in toxic diesel truck emissions.

In an attempt to accommodate some of the business concerns, the air district ordered staff to conduct an economic impact analysis of any new warehouse rules put forward.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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