Bay Area Air District sets new goals for 2050

Repost from The Contra Costa Times

Bay Area Air Quality Management District adopts plan to control greenhouse gases

By Denis Cuff Contra Costa Times
Posted: 04/03/2014

It has fought to rein in smog and smoke for years, but now the Bay Area’s air pollution board is tackling a new challenge: reducing greenhouse gases.

A plan to speed up work on reducing global warming gases from the region’s businesses, industries and residents was adopted Wednesday by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board.

Under one of the 10 measures, the district will review its industrial and business pollution rules to decide if changes are needed to cut down on carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases.

Any changes in regional rules would be closely coordinated with the state Air Resources Board, the leader of the state’s climate control effort, air district officials said.

“It’s very important we complement what the state is doing and not cause confusion or conflict,” said Henry Hilken, the air district’s director of planning and research.

If rule changes are made, they likely will focus on making industries change operations to make less pollution, rather than to control it afterwards, he added.

The clean air agency also will increase its technical advice to cities and counties considering local climate action measures such as setting local building energy efficiency standards. The district also will help seek funding for those local agencies.

To prepare for the extra workload, the air district later this year will propose adding four new employees to work on greenhouse gas issues.

Under the plan, the district will monitor the region’s progress toward meeting state goals for reducing greenhouse gas levels 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

If the region isn’t moving fast enough, the district will announce it, then coordinate efforts by city, county, state, federal and regional efforts to close the gap.

Under old estimates yet to be updated, the Bay Area in 1990 generated some 87.7 million tons of greenhouse gases equivalent to carbon dioxide. An 80 percent cut would drop that to 17.5 metric tons.

Those figures are likely to be modified when the air district updates its estimates, officials said.

Actions to control greenhouse gases will not only protect the earth from overheating, but also help to reduce Bay Area smog and fine particle pollution, Hilken said.

Most of this plan is geared at actions to be taken in the next two years, before more permanent measures are adopted in 2015.