OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today filed a motion to intervene in support of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (Air District) rule requiring warehouses reduce emissions from heavy sources of road pollution that visit these warehouses. The Air District rule regulates these “indirect sources” by requiring owners and operators of some of the state’s largest warehouses to take direct action to mitigate their emissions. It will reduce air pollution in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, help California meet state and federal air quality standards, improve the health of our communities, and promote environmental justice. Last month, the California Trucking Association filed a lawsuit challenging the rule as beyond the reach of air district authority, preempted by federal law, and an illegal tax. By defending the rule, Attorney General Bonta and the CARB expect to argue that these claims are unfounded and that federal and state law supports the air district authority to adopt the indirect source rule. .
“California has long been a pioneer in the fight against climate change – and the Air District rule limiting warehouse pollution is no exception,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The point is that environmental justice and economic development are not mutually exclusive. There is no binary choice here. The Air District’s indirect sources rule will have huge benefits for communities hardest hit by pollution, at relatively low cost to industry. Today, I am proud to support this effort to fight the climate crisis and protect the health of the communities of Inland Empire and Los Angeles. “
“It is a problem of environmental justice and public health”, said CARB President Liane M. Randolph. “The communities around these huge warehouses have suffered for years from the effects of businesses and freight carriers who have virtually ignored the community impacts of their businesses. This indirect source rule simply requires them to be much better neighbors. The rule is also an integral part of local air cleaning plans developed under Assembly Bill 617 with CARB and South Coast staff, local residents, local businesses and others. stakeholders to clean the air in and around these high traffic roads and locations.
In recent years, the proliferation of e-commerce and increasing consumer expectations for fast shipping have contributed to a boom in warehouse development, especially in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend as consumers shifted away from in-person retail shopping. Sadly, warehouse distribution – and the resulting pollution – has mostly occurred in low-income communities and communities of color. Once a new warehouse is built, the facilities and their associated activities, such as truck traffic, can lead to various negative impacts affecting public health. For example, diesel trucks visiting warehouses are substantial sources of nitrogen oxide – a primary precursor to smog formation that has been linked to respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis and lung irritation – and diesel particulates – a contributor to cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses and premature death.
The Air District Indirect Source Rule requires existing and new warehouses over 100,000 square feet to choose from a menu of emission reduction activities, such as purchasing zero-emission vehicles, installing systems air filtration in neighboring residences and the construction of solar panels on the roof. The rule is expected to create up to $ 2.7 billion in public health benefits, far exceeding the industry’s expected compliance costs. In just a decade, the rule is expected to prevent up to 300 deaths, 5,800 asthma attacks and 20,000 lost work days. These benefits will go primarily to the communities that have been most affected by the warehouse development, which are largely communities of color and low income communities.
In defending the rule, Attorney General Bonta and CARB expect to argue that:
- The Air District Indirect Sources Rule fulfills its previous commitment to control warehouse indirect source emissions;
- State law and federal law give the air district the legal authority to adopt the indirect source rule;
- The indirect source rule does not include an illegal tax; and
- The California Trucking Association’s arguments to the contrary misinterpret the law.
A copy of the motion is available here.