Gino DiCaro

Excessive particulate matter fines

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Aug. 18, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 1252 (Dean Florez, D-Shafter) would increase civil penalties for discharges of particulate matter (PM) that violates state or federal ambient air quality standards and codifies current regulatory definitions for fine suspended particulate matter (PM2.5) and suspended particulate matter (PM10).  In addition to current civil and criminal penalties for PM discharges, a maximum of $25,000 per violation for discharges would go into effect January 1, 2007, increasing to $50,000 on January 1, 2010.   These fines are anticipated to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional income for the Air Resources Board and the air districts.

This provision is extremely unusual, and unfair, because the ambient standard is a measurement of air quality in the community at any given time and is unrelated to specific sources of emissions, permitted or not.  So under the terms of this bill, if there were a violation of the ambient standard, the district could identify emission sources contributing to the violation and then fine them individually, even if they had a permit (or other compliance agreement) and were in compliance with the permit.  Presumably, they could also fine other emission sources which were previously unregulated.

SB 1252 was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, August 17, with a vote along party lines (Democrats for, Republicans against) and now goes to the Assembly floor. Unless amended, it would not have to go back to the Senate for concurrence.

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