The South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a policy Friday that would ban the burning of oil by electric utilities in Southern California after 1996. The policy extends the oil-burning ban to commercial uses after 1997.
The unanimous vote formalizes a key part of the district’s controversial air quality management plan, a sweeping proposal to generally replace fossil fuels with clean-burning fuels in the region by the late 1990s. The district ordered its staff to begin writing rules to put the ban into effect.
The overall air quality plan, fiercely opposed by industry and utilities, is scheduled for a vote March 17. The ban, aimed at electric utilities which use oil and natural gas to make electricity, helps “establish a rationale for bringing in additional natural gas pipeline capacity to California,” said Paul Wuebben of the air quality district.
Natural gas shortages have led to the temporary curtailment of gas deliveries to electric utilities and other big gas customers three times in the last 14 months, forcing them to burn oil instead. Oil causes more air pollution than natural gas.