BAAQMD Opening Up Their Permitting Process
This is a big deal! For the first time in many years, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) will be considering revisions to their permitting process. The Air District’s permitting track record is littered with examples of them rubber stamping projects that endanger community health and destabilize the climate. Can that behavior be reformed?
With enough public pressure it can! Unfortunately, the Air District is claiming that AB 398—the recently passed cap and trade extension bill— prohibits them from directly regulating CO2 emissions. Although the bill specifically restricts Air Districts from taking actions that produce CO2 reductions, BAAQMD legal staff insists that this also prohibits them from preventing future emission increases.
As a result, staff’s proposed improvements to current permitting rules, Rules 2-X, intentionally do nothing to control future CO2 emissions. The result is that dangerous projects—like the proposed expansion of crude-by-ship into the Phillips 66 marina at the Rodeo refinery—will continue to be rubber stamped. The “improvements” fail to prevent the increased emissions that inevitably follow from changes to dirtier, more GHG- and toxics- emitting crude sources.
Staff is using the same interpretation of AB 398 to argue that Rule 12-16, the proposed refinery emissions cap, can no longer be considered.