EPA Conforms District Air Plan to Calif. Law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed on Feb. 1 to correct its May 2004 approval of the San Joaquin Valley air district's portion of California's clean air plan to conform the district's rules to a state law.

Under California state law, certain small or minor agricultural sources are not subject to permitting or offset requirements. The current rule approved by EPA in the clean air plan in May 2004 oversteps the district's authority under California state law.

"EPA's action … is about correcting an error so that we can all ensure that agricultural sources comply with consistent permitting rules," said Deborah Jordan, EPA's Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "EPA is taking steps to bring the district's permitting rules in line with state law, and to further clarify permitting thresholds that are already being implemented at the local level."

EPA also is proposing to approve the state's request to revise the district's permitting rule to clearly specify thresholds for permitting agricultural sources that the air district has the authority to implement under state law.

California long had a blanket exemption in state law that prevented local air districts from requiring permits for agricultural sources. In 2001, EPA told the state it needed to remove the exemption to let districts regulate agricultural sources under the Clean Air Act or face sanctions. In 2003, the legislature removed the blanket exemption and allowed local air districts limited authority to permit large or major agricultural sources and some smaller sources above certain thresholds.

In 2004, EP
A approved the district's permitting rule into the state's clean air plan, but the rule did not clearly reflect the state law's new permitting thresholds.

This action is open to public comment for 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. For more information or to submit a comment, visit http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/actions/ca.html

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