Backlash to GOP’s AQMD takeover accelerates

Democratic politicians and environmental groups are scrambling to reverse decisions made by the South Coast Air Quality Management District board, which is now controlled by Republicans for the first time in memory. The agency oversees air pollution control reduction efforts for Orange County and the heavily populated urban areas of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Last week, the seven Republicans on the 13-member board forced out AQMD Director Barry Wallerstein, long criticized by business interests as hostile and indifferent to the economic downside of heavy regulation. In December, the GOP bloc passed on staff recommendations and adopted rules on refineries and other heavy industries that had been lobbied for by the Western States Petroleum Association and other oil interests.

kevin de leon 2State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, reacted sharply to both moves. This week, he announced plans to introduce legislation that would add three members to the AQMD board. The board now consists of 10 elected officials from cities and counties in the AQMD region as well as one member chosen by the governor, one by the Assembly speaker and one by the Senate Rules Committee.

Adding one public health expert and two “environmental justice” members to the board would likely lead to …

… more aggressive steps to curb pollution and would give the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown greater influence over the agency charged with protecting the health of 17 million people in the nation’s smoggiest region.


Under de León’s plan, two of the additional appointees would be selected by state legislative leaders. The public health member would be appointed by the governor, increasing the panel from 13 to 16 members. …


Recent appointees to the air board, including Highland Mayor Larry McCallon and Lake Forest Councilman Dwight Robinson, have said they want the agency to give more emphasis to the economic burden posed by tougher emissions regulations. Republicans gained a seven-member majority with the swearing in of Robinson last month following a campaign by GOP leaders to gain control of the regulatory agency.

That is from a Los Angeles Times report.

December decision triggers lawsuit from green groups

Meanwhile, the December vote against tough new emission rules has triggered a lawsuit, KPCC reports:

Southern California air has never met state and federal standards for ozone pollution, which is associated with various respiratory and health problems. In EPA-speak, it’s considered an “extreme ozone non-attainment area.” To reduce ozone pollution, the AQMD had proposed further reducing the emission of oxides of nitrogen — known as NOx. …


The AQMD staff had been working for three years to devise new rules that would limit the NOx that could be emitted by stationary pollution sources, mostly refineries and a cement plant. The AQMD board voted … for a proposal favored by … local refineries.


The WSPA proposal permits refiners and other stationary sources of pollution to emit 14 tons of oxides of nitrogen daily versus only 12 tons envisioned by the AQMD staff plan. The board also voted for a plan that relieved refiners and other polluters of a proposed requirement to install new emission controls and instead permitted them to buy air pollution credits.


The Center for Biological Diversity, Communities for a Better Environment, Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the AQMD over the decision. They called the staff-written proposal “the most significant smog-fighting proposal within its jurisdiction in a decade.”


The groups want a Superior Court judge to set aside the December NOx decision and require refineries and other stationery polluters to install equipment to reduce the amount of NOx they put out. The groups do not want the companies to be able to buy pollution credits instead.

The L.A. region has a long history of pioneering in efforts to combat smog and other air pollution. The Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District, established in 1947 — the first such agency in the nation — was the forerunner of the modern AQMD.

Air pollution in Los Angeles is generally believed to have peaked in the 1950s. Smog health alerts, once a common occurrence, are now rare. But the L.A. area still has the worst or among the worst records for air pollution of any U.S. city, depending on the category of pollutant.


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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 11 March, 2016, 13:27

    The lesson here for our California businesses is that any Golden State regulatory agency that show signs of sanity will shortly find their policies reversed by our bat-shit crazy Democrat politicians in Sacramento. Such policy improvements will be short-lived, and dramatically reversed. Business planners, take note.

    The “moral” of the story for CEO’s? Move your CA company to another state where they actually VALUE businesses and the jobs they provide.

    Texas beckons. So does Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and a host of other much more business friendly states. Only NY, NJ and IL must be avoided.

    Reply this comment
  2. eck
    eck 12 March, 2016, 19:04

    There is NO, I repeat NO, evidence that the current ozone level in SoCal has any significant affect on anyone’s health, period. Kudos to the AQMD board for realizing the bs here.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ronald
    Ronald 13 March, 2016, 09:10

    When will the SQAQMD provide “transparency” of the results of the emissions crusade?

    California’s flagship climate change policy Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Initiative was signed into law in 2006 when California was contributing 1% to the worlds green hose gases. And now, 10 years later, by AVOIDING transparency of the results of the California emissions crusade, the state can focus on how to spend the cap and trade funds they receive.

    Now, a decade later, California still contributes a miniscule 1 percent ( 1%) and has had little to no impact on the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. With many of the businesses the emit now departed from California, the contributions to the worlds greenhouse gases has actually INCREASED as no other state or country comes close to California which has the most stringent environmental laws and regulations in the world.

    Yet, the state, by avoiding transparency of the results of the California emissions crusade remains on a go-it-alone crusade to micro manage the California emissions that generates billions of dollars for the government at the expense of businesses and the financially challenged. With numerous state government agencies there is a feeding frenzy on getting a piece of the lucrative cap and trade tax revenue, yet there remains no progress in California reducing its contribution to the Worlds Greenhouse gasses.

    The public, especially the homeless and poor, that are paying dearly for the emissions crusade efforts of the SCAQMD, deserves to know if there is any progress over the last decade in reducing California’s 1% contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ronald
    Ronald 13 March, 2016, 09:11

    California is in a precarious position, being an energy island with the Sierra Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. The 40,000,000 million gallons of transportation fuel being consumed every day by the present 32 million vehicles are only manufactured here in California by the few refineries that are left, as virtually no other state or country can provide our boutique fuels in a timely manner to California. Sounds like a lot of fuel, but it’s just more than 1 gallon per day, per vehicle!

    Contributory to the “islands” high cost of fuel is that California’s boutique fuels are not manufactured at present in other states or countries, the high California taxes on fuel, and the extra costs for California’s emission crusade. There are no pipelines to bring into the state, the energy needed to run the economy

    If and when other states or countries opt to manufacture the California boutique fuels, the results of importing our energy needs via trucks, rail and ships from States and Counties that have less stringent environmental controls than California, would be increases to the world’s greenhouse gasses, and increases in costs for our transportation fuels, energy, and every product that are the basis of our standard of living for those living in California.

    With crude oil imports from Alaska on the decline, and both in-state and offshore exploration of crude oil hampered by regulations and also on the decline, California imports more than 50% of its crude oil needs from foreign countries.

    When will the SQAQMD provide “transparency” of the results of the emissions crusade? The public, especially the homeless and poor, that are paying dearly for the emissions crusade efforts of the SCAQMD, deserves to know if there is any progress over the last decade in reducing California’s 2006 1% contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases.

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 13 March, 2016, 10:55

    The tomes are getting longer, tedious, boring, redundent, insccurate and whatever……short and piffy per O’Reilly…

    Guess doomers like little kids coughing, wearing masks with eyes red and watering-


    Reply this comment
    • Richard Rider
      Richard Rider 13 March, 2016, 11:18

      Which is your way of saying you can’t think of anything to say in rebuttal. As usual.

      Reply this comment
      • Ulysses Uhaul
        Ulysses Uhaul 13 March, 2016, 17:58


        Liten up…..your head could explode reading lengthy posts…..CWD budding Sages appear experts on most subjects…..each and every day.

        The average working stiff can’t cut this heady stuff…..give us a break….there are more of us than you…we own California.

        Reply this comment
        • Richard Rider
          Richard Rider 13 March, 2016, 21:52

          More empty babble. But you got one thing right — dumb people own this state (well, run it). Starting with you, as you so proudly point out.

          Reply this comment
  6. desmond
    desmond 13 March, 2016, 15:15

    Look at De Leon as a conehead. It helps a bit.

    This crank , Auntie Free Stuff’s favorite nephew, is dangerous, a member of the Javan warted pig genus,
    a believer in free cheese for Lexus drivers with stolen plates, and opposed to the dignity of work, any work.
    This jerk believes in a “living wage” for wipingvyour own butt after
    defeating an EBT burger and fries.
    Dependency is better per Kevie the crook.
    Oink, Conehead.

    Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 14 March, 2016, 08:58


    What is wrong with expensive fast food ?????

    A higher minimum wage prices food to the moon…..and the plutocrats will blame doomers ……..the Visigoths will arise to pluck and plunder.

    Taking away cigarettes, cheap food, reasonable energy and water… can this end well?

    Reply this comment
  8. Sally
    Sally 30 April, 2016, 08:04

    Residents of the city of Lake Forest are seeking the recall of Dwight Robinson, who is currently on the city council. The reason for the petition to recall Robinson (signatures already submitted!) is corruption, cronyism, collusion and total disregard to the people of Lake Forest, all of which can easily be substantiated with the historical amount of GOP campaign funding he’s received, his voting record. If his cronyism in Lake Forest is any indication of what a “swell” job he’ll do for his Harbor Grain Co., and Fred Whitakers fuel Corp., southern Ca ought to be dropping like flies!
    Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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