Clean Air Projects Program (CAPP) July 8, 2011


In January 2008, the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (District) issued an order to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) that required about 13 square miles of dust controls to be implemented on the dried bed of Owens Lake October 2010. Included in this area was 3.1 square miles (known as the Phase 7a areas) on which the LADWP could, at their own risk, deploy an experimental dust control measure known as “Moat and Row.” For a number of reasons, the LADWP was unable to implement the Moat and Row controls and missed the October 2010 deadline. The District’s Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) issued a Notice of Violation and, after six months of settlement negotiations, on March 17, 2011, the District Board issued an order for abatement that requires approved dust controls on the Phase 7a areas by the end of 2013.

In addition to the requirement to implement dust controls, the order for abatement requires the LADWP to pay the District $6.5 million. This payment is intended to “offset and mitigate such excess [air pollution] emissions that may occur between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2013” (all quotes are from the March 17, 2011 Order for Abatement). The order requires 85 percent of the payment ($5,525,000) to be used “for Clean Air Projects within the District (Inyo, Mono and Alpine Counties) with preference given to projects in the Owens Valley PM 10 Planning Area” (OVPA or, generally, the southern Owens Valley). The order defines Clean Air Projects “as improvements, replacements, or programs that directly or indirectly result in a reduction in air pollution emissions.” Other than the requirement that the monies not be used to fund projects the LADWP is required to implement, the “District Governing Board shall have the sole authority and discretion regarding project selection and approval, but will consider any project recommendations made by [the LADWP].” Fifteen percent of the payment ($975,000) is to be deposited into the regular District budget and has no use restrictions, other than all program administrative costs are to be paid from this amount.

Examples of Possible Projects

CAPP funds must be used for projects that reduce air pollution. The reduction can be local and direct, such as woodstove upgrade/replacements, which immediately reduces the amount of air pollution directly discharged into our communities. The reduction can also be regional and indirect, such as weatherization of commercial/government buildings, which reduces electrical demand and, presumably, reduce the amount of coal or fossil fuel electrical generation outside the District. Air quality improvements from the first example are much easier to quantify than those from the second example. Most of the possible projects will fall somewhere along a gradient between these two examples. In addition, projects that directly reduce local air pollution emissions will rank higher than projects that reduce regional air pollution or projects that may result in future air pollution reductions. All proposed projects should attempt to quantify the cost per ton of air pollution reduced. The District is interested in the maximum possible air pollution reductions from the funding available. It should be noted that all programs must be voluntary. The District will rely on public outreach to generate enthusiasm for program participation.

In its discussion of the CAPP, the District Board emphasized its desire to take full advantage of opportunities to leverage CAPP funds—to look for projects that have or could have other funding in order to make CAPP funds go as far as possible. Leveraged projects would be ranked higher than non-leveraged projects that were otherwise equal.

Owens Valley Planning Area Preference

As mentioned above, the March 17 Order for Abatement requires that projects in the OVPA be given preference. The OVPA is the area most severely impacted by dust emissions from the Owens Lake bed. It is defined as the area in the Owens Valley between Tinemaha and Haiwee Reservoirs; it includes the communities of Independence, Lone Pine, Keeler, Cartago and Olancha. “Preference” can mean that proposed projects in the OVPA get first call for available funding and/or that projects in the OVPA would get additional funding beyond that in the rest of the District. For example, a woodstove replacement program could offer $2,000 toward the purchase of a new, EPA-compliant heating device in most of the District, but residents of the OVPA might get a voucher worth $2,500. OVPA preferences will be developed on a project-by-project basis.

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