SACRAMENTO — By a 70-1 vote, the state Assembly has passed and sent to the Senate a bill aimed at improving the long-term quality of the heavily polluted air in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys and the Riverside-San Bernardino area.
The measure, proposed by Assemblywoman Sally Turner (D-El Monte), was prompted by concerns about plans to build trash-to-energy plants in these areas.
Under existing law, an industrial plant proposed in those inland areas can compensate for its pollution by purchasing offset credits elsewhere in the South Coast Air Basin. The credits can come from plants in the four-county area that have closed or have eliminated polluting equipment or cleaned up pollution beyond legal requirements. The credits can be obtained from distant areas in the basin, including coastal cities such as Long Beach or El Segundo.
Tanner's bill would require plants in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys to demonstrate that offsets would directly benefit air quality in those areas, termed "sensitive zones."
Although the measure sailed through the Assembly on Thursday, several lawmakers raised questions in a brief floor debate about the ability of firms or government agencies to guarantee that offset credits would upgrade air quality in the sensitive zones.
An Assembly staff analysis of the measure terms the targeting of offsets "an imperfect science, where precise trade-offs between emission increases from one source and emission decreases from another rarely are achieved in a given area."
In an interview, Tanner said the South Coast Air Quality Management District has equipment capable of monitoring whether an offset is in fact reducing pollution in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys.
Tanner introduced the bill--and two others--in large measure as part of a strategy to make it tougher to dispose of waste at landfills or trash incinerators in the San Gabriel Valley. She has estimated that about two-thirds of Los Angeles County's trash is dumped in the San Gabriel Valley.
One of her bills would require the county to establish a "fair share" system that would distribute trash disposal throughout the county. That measure also was approved on Thursday by the Assembly and sent to the Senate on a 70-0 vote.
Tanner's third proposal seeks to force any waste-to-energy plant to draw 50% of its trash from homes and businesses within the same air pollution zone. That measure passed the Assembly last Monday by a 67-2 vote and was sent to the Senate.