Release 97-23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    CONTACT: Joe Irvin
August 21, 1997                                                                                               Jerry Martin
                                                                                                                        (916) 322-2990

Cal/EPA Responds to USEPA's Redesignation of the Bay Area AQMD

SACRAMENTO - The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and its Air Resources Board (ARB) today released the following response to the USEPA's announcement that it planned to redesignate the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as nonattainment for ozone.

        Cal/EPA Acting Secretary Peter M. Rooney said, "The Bay Area experienced air standard exceedances last summer that has our attention, however, we applaud the Bay Area AQMD for their leadership efforts to improve air quality for its six million residents. Before USEPA takes this action, we urge deliberate and open discussion among stakeholders on the best approach to meeting the district's commitments made in accordance with their 1995 attainment status.

        "Rather than devote our efforts to meet bureaucratic machinations, we should focus on activities that have immediate and lasting clean air benefits for the Bay Area," said Rooney.

        ARB Chairman John Dunlap said, "This is a setback for California's clean air strategy. USEPA is taking away the district's attainment status at a time when it is working diligently to meet the state's clean air goals through innovative emission reduction strategies.

        "Scarcely one month ago President Clinton stated, as he endorsed USEPA's new ozone and particulate standards, that he wanted to allow states to be flexible in implementing those new standards. We are asking him now to show us that flexibility," Dunlap added.

        The ARB expects a continuous downward trend in emissions throughout California as its unique programs for clean fuels, low-emission vehicles and consumer products are fully implemented. Also, the ARB has entered into national agreements with USEPA and engine manufacturers to develop three far-reaching Statements of Principles that will reduce emissions from diesel-powered trucks, buses, construction and farm equipment, as well as locomotives by 2005.

        Michael Kenny, ARB executive officer said, "The Bay Area district has proven itself to be one of the most efficiently run local air pollution control districts in California that encompasses parts of nine counties with a diverse mixture of urban and rural settings. Despite that diversity, the district has improved its air quality this year even though it has both heavy industry and agricultural businesses."

        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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