We’ve made solid progress cleaning our air. The Sacramento Region has reduced unhealthy air days by two-thirds since 1979 through tougher smog checks and emissions standards, cleaner burning gasoline and stricter standards on stationary sources such as auto refinishing shops, manufacturing plants and gas stations.
Private companies and public agencies have also joined the effort – voluntarily adding pollution controls and switching their heavy duty vehicles to cleaner-burning fuels such as compressed natural gas. Financial incentives often help cover their costs and lead businesses to adopt clean-air measures before regulations require them. And we’ve begun thinking about how to grow smarter by putting jobs, homes and services closer together.
Some highlights of clean-air innovation and action from the Sacramento region and the award-winning Cleaner Air Partnership:
Nearly every jurisdiction in our six-county region endorsed SACOG’s Regional Blueprint smart-growth planning project, which reduces per-household vehicle miles traveled in the face of heavy population growth. SACOG is using the Blueprint smart-growth map as the basis of its new $30 billion, 28-year transportation investment plan. Meanwhile, CalTrans is using the project as a statewide model for smart-growth land use – and offering grants to prompt similar efforts elsewhere.
Tougher Smog Check:
The Partnership lobbied hard for enhanced Smog Check in the Bay Area, helping to ease the Bay Area’s air quality burden on Sacramento. Statewide, we also supported adding a much-needed visual smoke check to the smog test that will help reduce particle and soot pollution. And we pushed the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair to speed up its efforts to test for evaporative emissions, such as vapors from leaky fuel systems.
Financial incentives for pollution control:
The Partnership supports and promotes financial incentive programs such as the groundbreaking local SECAT program and the state’s Carl Moyer program, which offer incentives to diesel vehicle owners to retrofit, upgrade or purchase cleaner technologies. The Sacramento region has previously led California in certain kinds of diesel retrofits, and state officials recently applauded the Sacramento Metro Air District for astute management of Moyer funds.
Widespread use of low-emissions vehicles:
Sacramento Regional Transit replaced its buses with compressed natural gas (CNG), and many local school buses run on CNG or have retrofitted diesels. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District helped our region achieve readiness for electric vehicles, is testing a CNG station and is one of many local agencies to boast fleet emission reduction programs. Raley’s Foods has run LNG trucks and companies like Sacramento Coca-Cola bottling, Taylor Heavy Hauling and General Produce have replaced older trucks. Many UPS and Supershuttle vans here run on CNG.
Innovative solutions for unique problems:
The Placer County Air Pollution Control District and Union Pacific Railroad tested an innovative technology to capture and treat emissions from diesel locomotives at the West’s largest railyard, the J.R. Davis facility in Roseville. The system used power-plant scrubbers to remove particulate matter and other pollutants. The project followed the state’s first in-depth study on pollution and health conditions, also centered on the Roseville facility.
Air quality in transportation planning:
In conjunction with SACOG, the Partnership held a special 2006 forum to gather input from air quality advocates on the Metropolitan Transportation Plan or “MTP,” which shows how our region will spend $30 billion on transportation by 2030.
Climate change leadership:
Prior to new statewide greenhouse gas regulations, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District board approved a Sacramento Climate Protection Program and directed the district staff to provide regional leadership and support. The program includes outreach and education, research, legislative advocacy and technical assistance. Sacramento and West Sacramento’s mayors were also among 227 nationwide to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to drop their own greenhouse levels.
Effective public education:
To help get a jump on new federal regulations for small particles and soot, our region is expanding the local Spare the Air program to winter for the first time. The program alerts residents to reduce driving during the unhealthiest air days. In a recent survey, nearly a quarter of respondents reported driving less on Spare the Air days, when pollution is at its worst and regulators reach out to residents.
The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sacramento Tree Foundation are teaming up to study how planting certain types of trees can help remove pollution and lower temperatures. SACOG is helping fund the effort through a grant. Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails is supporting local research in this and other leading-edge areas through its Health Effects Task Force.
The Cleaner Air Partnership received the 1998 Governor’s Economic and Environmental Balance Award, Breathe California’s 2003 Clean Air Award, the American Leadership Forum’s 2003 Regional Leadership Award and Breathe California’s 2011 Regional Clean Air Award.