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Valley Air District and Air Quality Coalition disagree over climate credits

The Central Valley Air Quality Coalition is following through with a lawsuit. The coalition is filing suit to force Valley Air to correct what they say is decades of unfair climate-credit reporting.
Posted: 6:42 PM, Jun 07, 2023
Updated: 2023-06-08 20:27:51-04
Climate change

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District is dealing with a lawsuit. Valley Air is receiving backlash from multiple organizations about their alleged lack of responsibility within the company. The organizations filed a 60-day notice of their intent to file a lawsuit against Valley Air about 2 months ago.

In the notice, the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition maintains that Valley Air is in violation of Rule 2201, which lays out how the district is supposed to run its climate credit-banking system so that it aligns with federal regulations.

According to Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Executive Director Catherine Garoupa, the climate credits issued by Valley Air are earned when a company reduces air emissions. Garoupa says these credits have been over-inflated and were set at a lower cost for larger companies.

"We were investigating this for several years and worked with a group called EarthWorks to put out a report documenting some of the issues with these credits that then led the State Air Resources Board to do their own audit of the program in 2020," said Garoupa.

According to Garoupa, Valley Air said it would change the rules moving forward, but still would not account for past accountings.

"Potentially as early as 2004, they were filing reports every year that were incorrect, so under the Clean Air Act they are required to go back and correct those reports," said Garoupa.

The air district has responded to the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition.

"Based on an initial review of the issues, the lawsuit appears to be based on misinterpretation of EPA-approved District Rule 2201 (New and Modified Stationary Source Review), which the District has fully complied with, and the District is concerned with erroneous and misleading statements suggesting that the District has falsified credits. The District operates one of the most stringent regulatory programs in the nation, and a viable permitting program is essential to ensuring that Valley businesses, public agencies, public safety, essential services and other sectors are able to obtain needed operating permits. For the past several years, the District has been implementing the remedies required by Rule 2201 and authorized by EPA, despite allegations to the contrary by Petitioners. In addition, consistent with evolving federal policies and opportunities identified in CARB’s review of the District’s ERC program, there has been significant effort to enhance the District’s permitting program through a series of proactive steps and ongoing public engagement process, including adopting amendments to Rule 2201 just last month in May as the District’s most recent action. Through decades of regulatory and enforcement efforts on industrial and other local sources, and collaboration with Valley stakeholders, the District has one of the most stringent regulatory programs in the nation that has reduced ozone and particulate matter-forming NOx emissions by over 90%, resulting in dramatically improved air quality for communities throughout the Valley. Additionally, we continue to advocate for stronger action and support from our partners at the state (CARB) and federal (EPA) level to reduce air pollution from sources under their jurisdiction that now make up the vast majority of local air pollution and climate-related emissions. It is disappointing when these long-standing and significant clean air investments by Valley businesses, residents, agriculture, and public agencies throughout the Valley are not recognized as we move forward with more clean air requirements and investments into the future. The District welcomes and appreciates comments, suggestions, and concerns from all Valley stakeholders in implementing an effective permitting program that protects public health and supports economic growth and development in the Valley," said Valley Air in a written statement.

Garoupa says they want to see Valley Air take accountability for its own actions and correct its errors.

"They love to talk pollution blowing in from the Bay Area, from China, that we're in a basin. They use the phrase 'We leave no stone left unturned,' and yet we look inside their own system and they've been mismanaging and cooking the books for decades," said Garoupa.

According to Garoupa, the legal action is at the very beginning stages. Valley Air has been served with the lawsuit and a judge has been assigned to preside over the matter.


One of the programs offered by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District is the Clean Air Rooms Program.

Valley Air is encouraging all California Residents, especially those with sensitivities to low air quality, to maintain a clean-air room in their homes. This is a room in your home that is kept closed off against outside air sources in order to provide a space for lungs to take a breather.

In order to help people create their clean-air room, Valley Air is offering free air purifier units to eligible households. To check your home's program eligibility, and for more information on how to set up a clean-air room, please visit the Clean Air Rooms Program page at the Valley Air website.