June 21, 2022 Minutes-San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford-Person & via Zoom

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hybrid Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM


Present:  Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Rachelle Bussell, Chris Carrillo, Ken Coate, Josh Cox, Michelle Decker, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Luke Keding, Lena Kent, Lowell King, Mike Layne, Bill Lemann, Jacquelyn Mercado, John Mirau, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Karen Richmond, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Elizabeth Romero, Kristine Scott, Patty Senecal, Paul Shimoff, Eric Ustation, Pete Van Helden, Michael Wells, and Frank Zabaleta.

Announcements:  1) The San Bernardino International Airport will hold a community concert in celebration of Breeze Airlines beginning service here.  The event will be held on July 23, 2022, where they will have beverages, food trucks and live bands beginning at 7:30 p.m.  More information will be available soon.

A recommendation from the sub-group reviewing AB 2840 (Reyes) has asked that Inland Action change position from concerned/following to opposition.  If approved by the membership a letter would be sent today to Senator Hertzberg as there is a hearing tomorrow.

M/S/P with one abstention: Inland Action opposes AB 2840 and will send a letter of opposition.

Lowell King, Chair presiding.

Motion/Second/Passed: Minutes from June 14, 2022.

Pete Van Helden introduced San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford who met with the group in person.  The Supervisor has been a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Governing Board for over seven years and gave an update about the SCAQMD.

She has been able to create relationships across the aisle with the other SCAQMD board members and brought a balanced and practical voice to the board representing the Inland Empire on the various issues tackled by the agency.  The agency continues to meet virtually, and the meetings have included the public who are active participants.

Their Executive Officer, Wayne Nastri, has demonstrated that he is reasonable, able to listen and connect and has a willingness to be approached unlike his predecessor.  He has elevated many experienced and qualified individuals to department head positions, however many of them are aging out of the organization which will leave gaps in their experienced team and will be an organizational challenge.  They have changed their approach in hearings to a more conversational format where people feel more comfortable.  Additionally, the board has changed the rules to rotate the Chair in hopes to avoid another “imperial chair” and send a message of inclusiveness.

One success was the revision of required low NOx furnace rule.  The SCAQMD was creating a rule that required a low NOx furnace which does not work at elevations over 5,000 feet.  Although manufacturers claimed a compliant version was available, the residents in Lake Arrowhead and elsewhere could not purchase them.  The Supervisor was able to contact the County Health Officer who wrote a letter to the agency indicating that the requirement was a threat to the lives of the mountain community residents which helped convince them to delay and re-tool the rule which is now much more reasonable.  She understands the system is gameable and that many choose to purchase the more available and affordable furnaces that do not comply.

They were able to delay but not avoid the indirect source rule for warehouses.  The rule is in place now but has not yet been implemented because the District has not addressed the details of how to measure the incoming trucks, calculate their emissions, and decide who is responsible for counting them.  Business consultants are already figuring out how to get around the rule.  The high desert, which is not in the SCAQMD jurisdiction, is prepared for and has set aside a great amount of land for warehouse relocation once the rule is fully implemented.  It is expected that many companies will simply pay the fines and ideally the SCAQMD would use the funds to purchase clean trucks but as it is not a requirement, it is unknown what will actually happen.  The California Truckers Association filed a lawsuit in August 2021 against the warehouse rule but that will not delay the agency from collecting the fines.  The Board is now looking at more indirect sources like a port rule and a rail yard rule.

The agency is now working on their next Air Quality Management Plan which is their large governing document produced every four years.  The plan set goals on how the region will get to attainment of pollution levels that federal government says are permissible.  Although told by the federal government to meet their air quality standard the SCAQMD does not have the authority to mandate the federally controlled aircraft and ocean-going vessels.   Since it has been discussed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for many years that there is no chance of attainment by only addressing stationary sources, this year the SCAQMD has filed a lawsuit with the EPA.

Members present reviewed the Rule Forecast for the next year which indicates all the things the SCAQMD plans on discussing in the year ahead.  Although the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program has been effective and successful in reducing pollution, the agency has decided to dismantle the program.  The unwinding of the program has estimated the costs to business will be in the billions.  She suggested the group monitor a proposed Fence Line Monitoring Rule that would allow neighbors of industries to call out and shut down for the day an industry that had exceeded their daily emission allotment.

From 2012-2023 the SCAQMD rules have cut NOx emissions by almost 50% with most reductions coming from cleaner fuels. The sources of NOx emissions under federal rule have increased, up to 10% by next year, and will continue due to increased volume.  The Supervisor quoted Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD, Executive Director “Even if we were to have zero emissions for all the stationary sources in our reach, we would not be able to come into attainment”.

A new representative from San Bernardino County will be appointed to the SCAQMD Board and if members would like to weigh in, they should speak to Supervisor Dawn Rowe who is expected to serve as the Chair in January.

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 a.m.