Santa Barbara County Air Quality News January/February 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, b[email protected] or (805) 961-8890.
It sounds like just another revision to an air pollution rule. But it’s different. APCD’s Rule 210 determines what fees the agency charges for air pollution control – and how the agency collects those fees. Revising Rule 210 means looking closely at the way air pollution control is funded in Santa Barbara County.
“You get very quickly to some pretty big issues,” notes Terry Dressler, APCD Manager in charge of the Rule 210 effort. “It comes down to balancing the community’s right to clean air with business’ economic freedom. We all agree that we need to find a balance. No one really believes we should go all the way to one or the other extreme. The question is: where exactly is that pivotal balance point?”
The Revision Process
Industry has expressed several concerns about APCD’s fee structure in recent years. The APCD Strategic Plan, adopted in October of 1997, also identified problems with the existing system, and called for an overhaul. The Rule 210 revision kicked off in December with a “clean slate” workshop. “We wanted ideas and suggestions before we even put pen to paper,” Dressler explains. “We are looking at everything in this rule to see how we can improve it. It’s all on the table.”
Comments and suggestions from the December workshop and an upcoming meeting of the APCD Community Advisory Council (CAC) will be incorporated in a draft rule. After discussion of the draft rule at a public workshop and a CAC meeting, the rule could be presented to the APCD Board for adoption as early as mid-1998.
Changes to be Made
It was clear at the initial workshop there are some changes to be made. “One point that came through loud and clear was that businesses need more predictability and control in their fee charges,” says Bette Easton, Rule 210 Team Leader.
Easton explains that some of the larger and more complex sources regulated by APCD have “reimbursable” fee payments. Under this system, the APCD charges a business for time spent on inspections and permits for that business. In theory, the system sounds fair: businesses that take up more of the agency’s time pay more. In practice, however, the system means that businesses often do not know how much to budget for fees until they get the bill. And next year’s bill may well be different from last year’s.
Implementing a system of fixed fees or some combination of fixed and reimbursable fees are options under consideration. Additional issues to be resolved include the question of whether fees should be equipment-based (related to permits for specific pieces of equipment) or emissions-based (related to the amount of emissions produced), or a combination.
Another key focus of discussion at the workshop was how the APCD can reduce its costs overall, and thus keep down the fees it needs to charge. “I want to assure industry that we understand the concerns about our efficiency. We have reduced the number of staff significantly over the last several years, and we continue to look for areas where we can be more efficient,” says Dressler.
He notes that difficult questions arise here as well: “For example, we spend a lot of time in negotiations with businesses about their permits. But how do you reduce that time? Both parties want a flexible, responsive process. And we don’t want to just lay down the law, even if that would save some time.”
Dressler sums up: “It’s time now to move from identifying the problems to developing creative and practical solutions. And we’ll find that balance point.” For more information, call Bette Easton, (805) 961-8898
One of three technical divisions at APCD, the General Source Division (GSD) permits and inspects some 650 facilities that are sources of air pollution in Santa Barbara County. The GSD also handles complaints about unregistered sources, and administers state and federal air toxics programs. “We deal with small businesses like neighborhood gas stations and dry cleaners all the way up to much bigger companies,” says GSD Manager Peter Cantle. Sources with particularly high emissions, or involving offshore facilities such as oil platforms, are handled by APCD’s Major Source Division (to be profiled in an upcoming issue). “We want to make it easier to deal with us, and we’ve been focused on that for a few years now. We recognize that the air quality field is technically complex, so we work to simplify, streamline, and demystify our processes for those that use them. It’s critical to good customer service, which we take very seriously.” — Peter Cantle, Manager, General Source Division “We’ve improved the communication between the permit engineer and the inspector, so they can work as a team with the business involved… We are also making our application forms fit hand-in-glove with our permits to make the whole process easier for the business.” –Jerry Schiebe, Air Quality Engineering Supervisor “I really want to encourage people to call with questions about their permit applications. It can speed up the process. If something is missing or unclear on an application, I like to call the owner myself instead of sending an incompleteness letter – often we can clear up something quickly over the phone.” –Rebecca Gaffney, Air Quality Engineer, gas station permitting, and the Air Toxics Program [Contents] [End]
Rules Planned for 1998
Rule 106 (Notice to Comply) Began development with a “clean slate” workshop January 13. Rule 106 will implement the requirements of Health and Safety Code ?39150. This directs agencies such as APCD to write a Notice to Comply for minor violations that do not result in, or do not have the effect of, concealing an increase of emissions of air contaminants. Contact: Tad Bixler, (805) 961-8896
Rule 210 (APCD Fees) See article page one.
Rule 333 (Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines) and associated Rule 202 provisions and Rule 102 definitions. Controls emissions of NOx from stationary piston-type reciprocating internal combustion engines, such as those used in oil and gas processing facilities and marine terminals, rock crushing plants, and aircraft support facilities. Revisions are necessary to obtain full approval of the rule from EPA. Contact: Doug Grapple, (805) 961-8893
Rule 351 (Wood Coatings) Delays deadline for limits on the amount of reactive organic compounds (ROCs) contained in certain wood coatings from July 1, 1999 to July 1, 2005, due to changes in availability of coatings. Proposed revisions include an exemption for coatings used in automobile interiors, and a record-keeping requirement for wood coaters with APCD permits. Contact: Tad Bixler, (805) 961-8896
Air Toxics and Annual Reports are due March 1, 1998 Your annual report is required to comply with your facility’s APCD Permit to Operate. Instructions are on the form and/or in your permit. For more information, contact the Business Assistance Line, (805) 961-8868. [Contents] [End]
Following are the highlights of the November and December APCD Board meetings:November Approved grants to Alamo Farming Company, Inc., and Guggia Farms for purchase of new low-emission booster pump engines. Approved grant to UC Santa Barbara Housing and Residential Services for purchase of five light-duty compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled trucks and a small refueling station. Approved grant to Truth Aquatics, Inc. for purchase of low-emission engines for fishing and dive vessels.
December Received a briefing on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action to designate all of Santa Barbara County a “serious” ozone nonattainment area, and on the Clean Air Plan revision requirements. Decided not to site a permanent air monitoring station in the Riviera area of Santa Barbara.
|ATC Applications Received||8||3|
|ATC Permits Issued||5||4|
|PTO Applications Received||3||4|
|PTO Permits Issued||8||4|
|Notices of Violation Issued||10||13|
|Administrative Infractions Documented (subset of above)||2||2|