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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jerry Brown officially extends California's landmark cap-and-trade program

California’s Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law the state’s revised cap-and-trade program, AB 398. The action extends and improves the state’s ambitious and world-leading climate change plan to effect reductions in greenhouse gases.

Photo: California Governor's website

"California is leading the world in dealing with a principal existential threat that humanity faces," said Governor Brown. "We are a nation-state in a globalizing world and we're having an impact and you're here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized, sustainable future."

The signing took place on Treasure Island, the same location where former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state’s original cap-and-trade-program, AB 32 (the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) over 10 years ago.
The new program, which was approved with bipartisan support, is designed to ensure that California reduces its GHG emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 as required by AB 32.

"Thanks to bipartisan support California was able to extend its historic cap and trade program which protects our environment and preserves our nation-leading economic growth. Governor Brown and legislative leaders from both parties came together to ensure that California continues to march toward a clean, prosperous future. I want to especially thank Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes and his Republican colleagues for following in the footsteps of great Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, who both recognized the importance of fighting for clean air and water and natural spaces. I hope politicians around the country can learn from the example set in Sacramento last week. Republicans and Democrats were able to come together to pass legislation that helps clean up our environment for our children while at the same time supporting a booming economy," said former Governor Schwarzenegger.

"As the Trump Administration seeks to undermine our nation's climate leadership - the world is looking to California. We are proving that growing an economy and protecting the environment is not an either-or proposition; we can and will continue to do both. Today's extension of our landmark cap-and-trade program, coupled with our effective clean energy policies, will move us forward into the future and we plan to take the rest of the world with us," said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León.

Friday, July 21, 2017

VW Dieselgate fines reach $1.5 Billion in California according to CARB

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced an additional $153.8 million in fines against Volkswagen for the notorious emissions cheating scandal involving its model year 2009 - 2016, 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel fueled passenger vehicles.

The additional penalties bring the total fines the company must pay in California to nearly $1.5 billion, the largest in history for violations of air quality rules.

“This payment to the State of California closes another chapter in the so-called ‘dieselgate’ case against Volkswagen, but it is not the end of the story,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols. “There are still consumers waiting to find out the future of their cars. CARB is working with U.S. EPA to determine if the remaining vehicles can be modified.”

“What Volkswagen did was categorically unacceptable,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “At the California Department of Justice, we’ve been holding Volkswagen accountable since we learned of their inexcusable actions. One thing should be crystal clear: wrongdoers who believe they can run and hide are sorely mistaken.”

The total fines are broken down as follows:
  1. $153.8 million for penalties for air quality violations and the cost of CARB's investigation.
  2. More than $422 million dollars VW must pay into a national trust to mitigate environmental harm in California.
  3. $800 million dollars in Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) related investments that VW must perform in California pursuant to an investment plan approved by CARB.
  4. $25 million dollars VW has paid to CARB to support ZEV investment programs, including vehicle replacement programs, for low-income residents.
  5. Consumer relief, including restitution and modification or buy back of the affected vehicles.
  6. $86 million dollars it has paid to the California Attorney General’s office for civil penalties and costs.
  7. Any additional mitigation payments VW is required to make if it fails to modify or buy back at least 85% of the subject vehicles in California.

The Consent Decree also includes an injunction requiring the company to implement a corporate compliance program, conduct enhanced vehicle testing, and undertake a series of audit and reporting obligations to ensure future compliance with U.S. and California laws and regulations.

Smoke from Mariposa Detwiler Fire to impact the Valley this weekend

The San Joaquin Valley APCD has issued an advisory related to smoke from the Detwiler Fire near Mariposa.

Photo: Cal Fire website

Because of the build-up of high pressure, lighter winds, and deteriorating dispersion conditions, smoke from the fire may affect air quality in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley through the weekend.

The smoke contains particulate mater (PM2.5) that can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks, and may increase the risk for strokes and heart attacks. Those people with existing respiratory conditions, young children, and the elderly may be particularly impacted by these conditions.

The SJVAPCD urges residents to follow their doctor's orders when exposed to PM2.5 and to stay indoors if possible, particularly if they can smell smoke or see ash in the sky.

For more air quality information about current wildfires, please refer to the SJVAPCD's wildfire page.