IMPERIAL COUNTY — The Imperial County Air Pollution Control District (Air District) prepared the first annual progress report for the Community Emissions Reduction Plan (CERP) for the El Centro-Heber-Calexico Corridor, as per the requirements of Assembly Bill 617 and the Community Air Protection Program Blueprint of the California Air Resources Board.
The report documents the progress of implementing strategies of the air reduction plan, as well as background information on the local AB 617 Program and the Corridor’s Community Steering Committee (CSC).
According to the report, there are two main health-based objectives: reducing exposure to toxic air contaminants that accumulate within selected communities and reducing exposure caused by localized particulate matter, dust, which is less than 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter.
The plan is divided into five main sections to satisfy the health-based objectives through the targets and the implementation of local emission reductions.
CERP will provide a technical assessment on the existing conditions in the community, which will help to identify and select targets and create strategies. The assessment analyzes existing air quality policies and programs, identifies locations of emission sources with sensitive receptors, and provides an overview of existing land use policies. This year’s assessment showed the top five contributors to the community’s PM2.5 emissions are windblown dust, fuel combustion from stationary and area-wide sources, unpaved road dust, on-road and off-road vehicles, and cooking.
The assessment was used to develop emission reduction targets and strategies to chart a path toward continuing long-term emissions reductions of PM2.5 in the Valley. CERP included 28 strategies, which consist of regulatory, air quality permitting, enforcement, incentives-based, land use, transportation, and mitigation strategies.
According to the report, incentive-based and mitigation strategies will improve local air quality conditions for Imperial County.
The Air District is participating in the Woodsmoke Reduction Program, administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which consists of offering financial incentives for replacing residential wood burning fireplaces with electric or gas burning fireplaces. The Air District currently has nine signed agreements with residents who will replace their wood burning devices, and two additional agreements are pending for finalization.
As an early emission reduction project, the Air District completed a parking lot paving project at Calexico High School in 2019. The project consisted of paving the bus and staff parking lots at the maintenance and operations building at Calexico High School.
The Air District has also replaced an old diesel school bus with an electric bus and installed a charging station for Calexico Unified School District staff in September. The Air District is committed to funding the replacement of five older school buses with zero emission school buses over the next five years.
The Air District and Comite Civico del Valle are in the process of conducting a one-year review of the plan for the corridor with the Community Steering Committee to determine what objectives, strategies, and information needs to be updated or expanded as implementation of the CERP proceeds in 2020 and beyond, according to the report.