Release 97-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 CONTACT: Richard Varenchik
July 1, 1997                                                                                                  (626) 575-6730

Antelope Valley Creates First New Air District in Five Years

        SACRAMENTO - California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chairman John Dunlap today welcomed the new Antelope Valley Air Pollution Control District (AVAPCD), the first new air district created in the state in five years.

        "It is appropriate that the Antelope Valley, completely separated by a mountain range from the rest of the Los Angeles area, should have a separate, independent air district," said Dunlap.

        Carved out of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), the AVAPCD is bounded by Kern County to the north, San Bernardino County to the east and has a jagged southwest boundary that runs roughly from the Gorman area in the northwest to the San Bernardino County line in the Angeles Forest in the southeast.

        The AVAPCD cover approximately 1,300 square miles and includes the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale. The new district holds a population of about 320,000, making it tenth in the number of people among the state's 35 air districts. The last new air district in California, the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, was created in June, 1992.

        Residents, business owners and government leaders in the Antelope Valley have, for many years, objected to being lumped in with the SCAQMD and its higher air pollution levels. For the past few years, peak ozone levels (ozone is one of the main components in smog) have been in the 14-16 parts per hundred million range in the Antelope Valley while ozone peaks ranged from 26-28 pphm in the SCAQMD.

        SCAQMD relaxed some of its rules in the Antelope Valley but local residents still expressed a desire to break away from South Coast. In September, 1996, Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law legislation by then-Assemblyman Peter Knight of Palmdale allowing the Antelope Valley to create its own air district.

        The Antelope Valley District is expected to have a 1997-98 budget of approximately $900,000. One of the district board's first actions is expected to be a contract calling for the AV District to be run during its first year by staff from its eastern neighbor, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District in Victorville.

        The new district may also call on the ARB for assistance in its first year of operation. The ARB has staff with the necessary security clearances to do inspections at aerospace and military bases such as those that make their homes in the Antelope Valley.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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