1,400 Warehouses In Southern California Under AQMD Pollutants Control Noncompliance Review

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is seeking to confirm preliminary findings that 1,400 warehouses in Southern California, including hundreds in San Bernardino County, have not conformed with the air pollution standards established for the logistics industry in this region.
On September 20, the South Coast AQMD heralded its effort to ensure warehouses within its jurisdiction into compliance with its Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, also referred to as Rule 2305.
Rule 2305, passed by South Coast Air Quality Management District’s governing board in May 2021, requires the reduction of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions produced by light- and heavy-duty trucks and tractor-trailers traveling to and from warehouses. It applies to warehouses with at least 100,000 square feet of indoor floor space in a single building. Under the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, warehouses/distribution centers must directly reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and diesel particulate matter emissions (PM) or otherwise facilitate emission and exposure reduction of those pollutants in nearby communities.
According to the South Coast AQMD, “About 55 percent of warehouses that are required to provide information reports on the actions they took in the first year have yet to do so. Overall, there are 2,000 warehouses currently subject to the rule, with 1,400 of those currently out of compliance. Violators of air quality rules can face civil penalties of up to $11,710 per day of noncompliance based on a strict liability standard.“Time is up for those not complying with our rule,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD Executive Officer. “Owners and operators of warehouses have known about these deadlines for two years. Communities near these facilities deserve to breathe clean air and our enforcement teams will work quickly to ensure that the facilities come into compliance as quickly as possible.”
According to the SCAQMD, since 2021, it has been identifying and reaching out to warehouses, providing them with information, training, and assistance to ensure compliance with the rule. Earlier this month, the agency issued a compliance advisory to warehouse owners and operators advising them of rule requirements and past deadlines. South Coast Air Quality Management District’s enforcement team is preparing to issue notices of violation that can result in daily penalties and further legal action. The agency said it will first focus on warehouses located in what it terms “environmental justice communities,” which are defined as a community or geographical area most impacted by environmental harms and risks. The United States Environmental Protection Agency uses the alternate phraseology, “overburdened communities.” In essence, an environmental justice community is where there is: disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards and increased vulnerability to those hazards.
According to the South Coast AQMD, “Warehouses are a key destination for heavy-duty trucks and have other sources of emissions like cargo handling equipment, all of which contribute to local pollution. Emissions from sources associated with warehouses account for almost as much NOx emissions as all of the refineries, power plants and other stationary sources in the South Coast Air Basin combined. Those living within a half mile of warehouses are more likely to have higher rates of asthma and heart attacks and must endure a greater environmental burden. The Warehouse Indirect Source Rule is expected to reduce smog-forming emissions by 10-15 percent from warehouse-related sources.”
South Coast AQMD’s Warehouse Rule is aimed at reducing noxious emissions through an arrangement by which individual warehouse are credited with so-called pollution offset points on an annual basis for action that includes utilizing, instead of diesel fuel vehicles, natural gas near-zero and/or zero-emission on-road trucks, zero-emission cargo handling equipment, solar panels, or zero-emission charging and fueling infrastructure. Warehouse operators or owners can also put into place a customized plan specific to their site or choose to pay a mitigation fee. Mitigation fees are to be used to purchase cleaner trucks and charging/fueling infrastructure in communities surrounding the participating warehouses.

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