Bishop, CA – The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District is pleased to report that as of the end of June, its Clean Air Projects Program (CAPP) has resulted in yearly reductions of over 1.13 million pounds of air pollution District-wide.
Throughout Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties, more than 29 different projects were funded in whole or in part through CAPP. Initially kicked-off in late 2011, CAPP is now closing out the last of its projects.
Projects that covered bare dirt surfaces, roadways and parking lots resulted in the largest amount of reduced emissions. More than 885,000 pounds of fine dust is being controlled by new surfacing and paving, rock ‘mulch’ coverings, and new plantings, such as orchards and vineyards. This fine dust, or particulate matter air pollution, becomes a threat as the particle size gets smaller and can enter deeply into the lungs. Fine dust is especially dangerous to our youngest, oldest and sickest residents.
Three new street sweepers are also helping to control particulate matter air pollution by vacuuming roadways, preventing dust from being endlessly stirred into the atmosphere by passing vehicles and wind. And two new rodeo arena dust control systems are also helping to dampen and control tons of dust stirred by hooves and wind. Other projects will annually control thousands of pounds of air pollution from old inefficient woodstoves by providing Air District residents with new and much more efficient and cleaner wood, pellet, propane and kerosene heating systems.
Overall, this summer will have a lot less dust in the air originating from previously bare surfaces, while winter will have much less wood smoke throughout all three of the counties that comprise the Air District.
Carbon dioxide emissions (a main component of climate change realities) are also being reduced locally by several projects. An exhaust capture and filtration system at five Mono County vehicle maintenance facilities now stops thousands of pounds of CO2 and other harmful pollutants from entering the atmosphere, while public transit and an electric tractor have reduced fossil fuel use.
Thousands of pounds of other assorted, very dangerous air pollutants are also being controlled by these and other CAPP projects, including reductions in carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), benzene (C6H6) and diesel particulates.
In addition to air pollution reductions, CAPP funding has provided for locally grown produce through enhanced farming and community garden projects. The Town of Mammoth Lakes was also able to update its Air Quality Management Plan, and winter road safety has been increased in Mono and Alpine Counties with three new snow removal vehicles that can easily clear many more miles much faster than older vehicles, with far fewer engine emissions.
Providing for all of these positive outcomes, nearly $5.5 million has been paid to grantees from CAPP funds, with 64 percent of that going directly to local businesses and service providers. Additionally, more than $1.4 million was reported by grantees as shared costs, most of which also benefitted local providers. In total, these CAPP projects amount to an on-the-ground value of more than $6.8 million, all of which directly and indirectly benefits the region and all of its inhabitants, now and for years to come.
CAPP funds originated from a 2011 legal settlement between Great Basin and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power concerning dust mitigation on the dry Owens Lake bed. DWP paid $6.5 million to Great Basin to help offset impacts and mitigate emissions from the dry lakebed. $5.5 million of the settlement was specifically designated to directly fund “clean air projects” throughout the Air District, with an emphasis placed on projects in the southern Owens Valley. The settlement defined “clean air projects” as “improvements, replacements, or programs that directly or indirectly result in a reduction in air pollution emissions.”
Local resident Lisa Isaacs was contracted by Great Basin in 2011 to provide CAPP management services. With a background in environmental program management, she oversaw the implementation and payment of all CAPP-funded projects and is very excited to report on its many successes. “The vision shown by the Air District in settlement discussions with LADWP was very impressive,” she notes. “They turned a negative into a positive that directly benefitted the entire region in so many ways.”
According to Ted Schade, Great Basin’s Air Pollution Control Officer, “the CAPP funding allowed Great Basin to provide assistance for dozens of air pollution reduction projects that likely would not have taken place otherwise. We have enjoyed working with all the grantees. It was their concern for air quality and their innovative ideas that has made our air that much cleaner and healthier.”