Regional Regulation of Cars and Trucks?

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, April 14, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 1063, by Assemblymember Marco Firebaugh (D-East Los Angeles), grants unprecedented authority the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to impose retrofit controls and mitigation fees on mobile sources. As drafted, the bill would apply to any on- and off-road sources, including cars, trucks, construction equipment, trains and ships. AB 1063 is motivated by the relative severity of the air quality problem in the South Coast basin and the concern that the California Air Resources Board and USEPA, which share responsibility under state and federal law for regulating mobile sources, may not be acting aggressively enough to control these sources.

Clearly, more must be done to reduce mobile source emissions. That being said, the air quality problems facing the South Coast are no longer unique to that region. For example, the San Joaquin Valley's ozone non-attainment designation was recently downgraded by the USEPA from "severe" to "extreme". This action will force the district to pursue a more aggressive array of control strategies. Furthermore, it is clear that attainment of the federal standard will not be possible in the Valley unless significant mobile source reductions can be achieved. The fact that other regions face similar air quality challenges argues for a continued statewide approach to regulating mobile sources, especially when one considers the transitory nature of these sources.

Among the concerns of manufacturers is the distinct possibility of regional fleet emission standards. Rather than tailoring fleets to meet these standards, companies may elect to contract for their shipping and transportation services, leaving the district with a far more difficult enforcement task, since these vehicles would likely be based outside of their jurisdiction. The net effect in these cases could be no additional mobile source reductions. Again, a statewide approach would be far more effective in addressing emissions from these sources.

As amended on April 10, AB 1063 also requires the South Coast district board to adopt a resolution establishing "fair share" emission reduction targets for ports, marine terminals, shipping companies and railroads. Based on these targets, the district would be authorized to impose a mitigation fee on these entities. Fee revenue could be used to obtain equivalent reductions (relative to the targets) from unspecified other sources. This section of the bill contains a relief valve that would render the fee moot in the event that the USEPA acts to regulate these sources to achieve the target reductions by January, 2006.

While we appreciate the authors desire to force action by USEPA, we question the proposed approach, which would drive up the cost of goods and services statewide and potentially divert commercial traffic from Los Angeles ports, leading to job loss and further economic recession in that region.
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