South Coast Air Permit Moratorium

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 6, 2009 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A recent court ruling invalidated a South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) rule specifying how the agency accounts for and calculates the amount of emission reductions there are available to fund the "priority reserve" and offset exemptions.  The result of the decision has been to restrict AQMD from issuing any permits for new, replaced, relocated or modified equipment that admits air pollution without offsetting it with other equipment that can reduce air pollution emissions (Rule 1315). The Natural Resources Defense Council and others succeeded in convincing the court that a new environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act is required before a new rule can be adopted.

As a result of the court decision, permits will only be issued to sources that have provided their own offsets in the form of Emission Reductions Credit (ERC) certificates.  The moratorium on AQMD’s permits affects industry as well as any public service trying to obtain an offsetting credit, including hospitals, police stations, landfills, sewage treatment plants. The court decision could impact the validity of any air permit issued after September 8, 2006.

AQMD appealed the court’s ruling on November 25, 2008. The appeal didn’t grant the AQMD the right to issue new permits, but stayed cancellation of thousands of previously issued permits.   AQMD plans to readopt a credit tracking rule or other appropriate programs to replace Rule 1315. It will be nine months to a year before such a rule could be adopted.

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