Moratorium on south coast air permits

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 30, 2009 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) sent thousands of notices to permit holders and applicants regarding a moratorium on certain permits.  By court order, "Permits to Construct" issued since September 8, 2006 may be invalid if the applicant relied on Rule 1304, offset exemptions funded by the District Bank.  District Bank offsets are no longer available for similar new or pending permit applications.  The action was a result of a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Communities for a Better Environment, Coalition for a Safe Environment, and California Communities Against Toxics.  This court decision may substantially affect your activities if you plan to install, construct, modify, replace or relocate equipment that emits air pollution.

Businesses may now be required to buy offsets from the market in order to have valid air permits.  However, market offsets are expensive and in short supply.  This situation may have an unprecedented, adverse impact on hundreds of businesses in Southern California because it affects everything from backup diesel engines to big power plants.  School districts hoping to open facilities in the fall must pay $500,000 for credits to obtain the required boiler permits.

To date, there has been very little guidance from AQMD other than to advise going to the open market.  This situation will exist until the AQMD adopts a new rule or program that addresses the court decision.  They plan to readopt the invalidated rule or another appropriate program, but expect it to take at least nine to twelve months.  

For additional information, refer to this website: http://www.aqmd.gov/prdas/NSR/

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