Board Pitches Local Clean-Air Plan to EPA : Pollution: Supervisors will request many provisions of federal proposal be replaced with those drafted by county business leaders.
Backing an anti-smog plan drafted by business leaders, Ventura County supervisors Tuesday urged federal regulators to adopt an alternative proposal that supporters say will meet health standards without undue harm to the local economy.
The supervisors voted unanimously to request that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency replace many provisions of its own clean-air plan with those written by the Ventura County Economic Development Assn and the Council on Economic Vitality.
The local plan would relieve businesses of a proposed EPA regulation requiring annual reductions in emissions and would allow companies to get credit for previous reductions in smog.
As written, the local plan also shifts some of the burden of reducing emissions from stationary sources of pollution to cars and other mobile sources. It includes a controversial proposal that would charge motorists an annual fee based on how much they drive and how much their vehicles pollute.
“The original (EPA) plan would be prohibitive for business,” said Supervisor Maggie Kildee, who urged the board to adopt the alternative plan. “The (local) plan includes other sources like motor vehicles and doesn’t place the entire burden on the business community.”
In separate action, the county’s Air Pollution Control Board, which includes the five county supervisors as well as city representatives, endorsed its staff’s recommendations that the EPA adopt many of the measures in the local anti-smog plan. County pollution control staff members helped develop the local plan.
But one Air Pollution Control Board member dissented, arguing that the board should oppose the EPA air cleanup plan and propose no alternatives.
“I ask the board to go on record with Fillmore and Camarillo and oppose the entire federal implementation plan to try to get something we can live with,” said Michael McMahan, a Fillmore city councilman.
The EPA, which is under court order to clean up the county’s air, is scheduled to adopt a final air cleanup plan Feb. 14. The federal Clean Air Act forced the federal government to step in when the county failed to meet federal clean air health standards on its own.
The federal plan, once adopted, will also apply to the Sacramento and Los Angeles regions, which have also been designated to have “severe” air quality problems.
Some of those problems could be curtailed with more stringent controls on private vehicles, said county Air Pollution Control Officer Richard Baldwin. In his comments to the EPA, Baldwin asked the federal government to require a strict new smog-check program that would centralize all check stations.
Baldwin also said the EPA correctly included controls on emissions from pesticides. But he urged the federal government to allow the state time to develop its own regulation based on complete information from the pesticide manufacturers.
Ed Frost, manager of the Oxnard Pest Control Assn., questioned the economic effects of pesticide controls on the agriculture industry.
“EPA doesn’t have a clue of what this will cost” the industry, he said.
Andy Caldwell, executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, urged the Air Pollution Control Board to reject both the EPA and the local plan, contending that lobbying in Washington and congressional action could change the U.S. Clean Air Act, making the cleanup plan moot.
“We do not need the federal government to interfere in California,” Caldwell said. “We either need one nationwide federal implementation plan or none.”
But Russ Baggerly, a former aide to Supervisor Maria VanderKolk and longtime area activist, urged the board to adopt the alternative plan.
“The principle here is to protect the health, safety and welfare of every man, woman and child of Ventura County from the devastating effects of air pollution,” he said. The local alternative “provides a chance for good air quality and economic vitality.