Planning for Clean Air

In January 2023, the California Air Resources Board will hold a public hearing to change Santa Barbara County’s designation from “nonattainment” to “nonattainment-transitional” for the State ozone standards [Based on monitoring data in 2021 and 2022].
The change in designation becomes official after it is finalized by the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which is expected to occur in Summer 2023.

Our air quality attainment plans provide an overview of our air quality and sources of air pollution, and identify the pollution-control measures needed to meet clean air standards. In Santa Barbara County, our plans have focused on attaining and maintaining both the state and federal ozone standards. These plans influence a range of activities such as the development of our rules and regulations, transportation planning, and the allocation of funds for air quality projects. Read on to find out more about our air quality attainment plans, or:

The Process

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) develop and implement air quality standards to protect public health. These agencies determine if our county meets or “attains” the air quality standards by using the ambient air monitoring data collected at our monitoring stations. Our county’s attainment designation drives our clean air planning process, as it sets mandates and schedules to achieve additional emissions reductions from the various emission sources within the County.

Working closely with the District Community Advisory Council and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), District staff develop plans consistent with the California Clean Air Act and state/federal guidelines. The plans are brought to the District Board for adoption, and are then sent to the EPA and/or CARB for final approval. Every three years, the District is required to update the Clean Air Plan to demonstrate the progress toward attaining the state ozone standards.

What’s in a Plan

picture-this-clean-air-planOur air quality attainment plans include topics such as:

  • An overview of planning efforts,
  • Information on our local air quality,
  • An emissions inventory and emission forecasts,
  • Existing and proposed stationary source control measures,
  • Existing and proposed transportation control measures, and
  • Public comments, and other topics as appropriate.

The Plan forecasting process sheds light on long-term issues and challenges for our county’s air quality. For example, in the 2001 Clean Air Plan, the District found that emissions from large ocean-going vessels that travel through the Santa Barbara Channel were growing at an alarming rate. This understanding was confirmed and expanded in future Clean Air Plans. As a result, the District has been working with regional, state, national, and international agencies and organizations to promote projects to reduce marine vessel emissions.

These plans outline areas in which new rules or measures need to be developed and implemented. Plans can also influence regional aspects, such as transportation planning, since vehicles typically travel across the District boundaries. These plans are comprehensive documents that are often referenced or cited in other environmental documents.

For more information, follow the links below or contact Alex Economou.