Santa Barbara County Air Quality NewsMarch/April 1998
Index of Topics in Past Issues
On the Air
is a bimonthly newsletter published by the Planning and Community Assistance Section of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. For more information on items in this newsletter, or to be added to our print subscription list, contact Bobbie Bratz, [email protected] or (805) 961-8890.
On the Air asked APCD Director Doug Allard to look ahead to the year 2008. The line from the Joni Mitchell song captures the discussion.
Car and truck exhaust is one of our biggest air pollution problems today. But let’s look ahead ten years. Won’t we have solved that problem? Isn’t that the good news?
We won’t have solved the problem, but it’s clear that more cars will be using clean technologies in ten years.
And the bad news is that…?
Think about this: the state has fought hard for cleaner cars and trucks. But the emission- reduction gains the state fought for have been virtually wiped out by the increase in people and in vehicle use. It’s not just the exhaust we need to consider: it’s the growth in numbers of people and vehicles, and in vehicle use.
Even if we go to vehicles with basically zero emissions?
We won’t have all zero- emission vehicles for a long time. But if and when we do, it could be a bittersweet victory. Because we will still have the other impacts from having a lot of cars.
They have to do with land use. If you think land use has been an issue in recent years, just consider this: according to an estimate in a recent Los Angeles Times article, by the year 2025 we could have 18 million more people in California. Picture that: it’s as if the entire population of New York State were to move into California. And that estimate could even be low. What will we do with all these people?
So what will we do?
California’s traditional solution to this problem is urban sprawl. When more people come to a city, the city just sprawls out to handle them. And when you have a sprawling city, and many more people and cars, the first thing is, you end up with a lot of pavement. For new land development, an estimated 40% of the land use is pavement.
That’s a lot of pavement.
It’s to support the cars. There are some seven parking spaces for every car.
So what are the air pollution impacts?
When you pave over land, you increase the temperature overall-and we know that ozone forms much more rapidly at higher temperatures. This is known as the urban heat island effect. In addition to raising the temperature, urban sprawl also increases vehicle use, since you have to travel farther to get from one end of the city to the other. And you have more traffic and congestion. Yes.
So what should we do?
On a personal level, we can all start by driving less. On a planning level, communities need to participate, decide what they want, and go after it. As an air district, we need to become more engaged in looking at land use from an air quality perspective. We need to develop models, including transportation models, so we can determine the impact of certain changes.
So you see land use and transportation as the critical long-term air quality issues?
Yes. Of course there are others as well. Global warming? Yes-although right now air districts are not directly involved in developing controls for greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. Sometime in the next five years there may be some kind of local enforcement for rules filtering down from EPA.
Talk about the overall direction of air pollution control ten years from now.
Of course it’s impossible to predict. A lot of factors will affect our direction. Results from medical research will be important. We’re learning more about the impact of ozone on children’s lungs. And there’s a lot of research going on right now on the health effects of particulate matter, the fine particles that we breathe deep into our lungs, which make illnesses like asthma or pneumonia worse. We’ll be able to identify which particles cause the most problems. We’ll also be finding out more about how and where air pollution travels, and we’ll be able to pinpoint the causes of regional haze in places like the Grand Canyon. And of course by 2008, we’ll have new EPA standards in all these areas.
So is the future bright-or smoggy?
One thing I know: everyone in this county really cares about our quality of life, and air quality is an important part of that. We don’t want to see our quality of life go down with an increase in traffic, congestion, and the number of miles of pavement. I think we’ll work together to make the future bright-and clear.
…Or will it be like the other line from the same song: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”…
APCD Director Doug Allard joined the District in 1986 and was made Director in 1993. On the Air asked him to reflect on his time at APCD.
How do you feel about your tenure as Director?
To be honest, it’s been difficult. I took on a ship that had made a long and arduous, and very successful, voyage, but the ship was…
No, not sinking. But it was battered and taking on water. In some ways my primary achievement as Director has been just to keep the ship afloat and heading in the right direction.
The history goes something like this. In the 1980s, oil and gas companies came into the county and proposed four new major facilities. Suddenly, we were involved with major source permitting, drafting new rules, and considering the impact of these facilities. Major new industrial facilities were quite rare in the state in the 1980s. And here we had four, just in this county.
And then the economy went into a recession and there was a tremendous backlash against regulation. I took over as Director at the height of that backlash. We had to make sure we were still doing our job, enforcing our rules and improving air quality, and at the same time improve relations with the business community-all with a shrinking staff. It’s hard to do the kind of job the community expects with two-thirds the staff we had seven years ago.
And have you done it?
California Air Resources Board gave us high marks on our technical program in a recent audit, and our customer surveys have been quite positive.
And we’re not in a recession anymore.
That’s right. It’s difficult to come together during a recession, you’re too concerned about survival. Now, when our economy is doing well, is the time to build consensus, find our common ground and strengthen our relationships-we’ll need them in the future.
And the highpoint of the past ten years…?
When I went to Washington D.C. to accept the APCD’s 1996 Presidential Award for Sustainable Development from Vice President Al Gore. That was a great moment.
Following are the highlights of the January, February and March APCD Board meetings:
- Approved extension of Electric Vehicle Buydown Incentive Program through January 31, 1999.
- Received a briefing on transportation and air quality issues in a joint presentation by Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) and APCD.
- Approved grant to City of Lompoc for purchase of a natural gas-fueled roll-off truck and five compactors/roll-off bins.
- Approved contract with Dept. of Toxic Substances Control for reimbursement of APCD costs for program at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
- Received a briefing on the Marine Vessel Engine Repowering (MERC) Program.
- Approved anticipated Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Program costs for FY 98-99.
- Received a briefing on the Grefco Mineral federal operating permit process and dust nuisance issues raised by Lompoc Valley residents.
- Received a briefing on the MERC program.
May Is Clean Air Month
The month of May is nationally designated by the American Lung Association (ALA) as Clean Air Month. The APCD joins ALA in urging everyone to Drive Less.
APCD and ALA will be visiting Farmers Markets in celebration of Clean Air Month. Look for our booth at these Farmers Markets:
May 2 – Downtown Santa Barbara May 7 – Carpinteria May 14 – Goleta
|ATC Applications Received||4||8|
ATC Permits Issued
|PTO Applications Received||6||4|
|PTO Permits Issued||3||1|
|Notices of Violation Issued||11||26|
|–Administrative Infractions Documented (subset of above)||4||6|