The South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board, which regulates air pollution for major portions of Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, Friday adopted a regulatory process intended to cut emissions that impact communities in close proximity to large warehouses.

Rule 2305, the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, focuses on warehouses that are 100,000 square feet or larger, aiming to slash their nitrogen oxide output, using a points-based system that rewards operators for their pollution controls.

“About half of the air pollutants that contribute to smog come from the goods movement industry, with the largest source being heavy-duty trucks heading to warehouses across Southern California,” South Coast AQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri said. “After many years of development, today’s adoption of the warehouse rule is a major step towards reducing air pollution and protecting the millions of people directly impacted by this type of pollution.”

The goal is for a 10% to 15% reduction in pollution emanating from warehouses, he said.

The Inland Empire has become a warehousing hub, stretching over most of western Riverside County and southeast San Bernardino County.

According to the SCAQMD, emissions tied to warehousing operations, most prominently the coming and going of tractor-trailers, “account for almost as many NOx emissions as all the refineries, power plants and other stationary sources in the south coast basin.”

The rule was passed on a 9-4 vote after a daylong hearing.

Riverside County Supervisor Manuel Perez, who sits on the board and voted for the rule, lauded the new policy as one that “cleans up the air our families, neighbors and communities breathe, and improves our public health of all in Southern California, while looking ahead to address air quality impacts and our continued growth.”

Perez joined a majority of county supervisors in October 2017 to approve a colossal warehouse on 230 acres near Cherry Valley. The San Gorgonio Crossing Project was vehemently opposed by residents and environmental activists because of its size and impact to the surrounding area.

However, Perez indicated he was behind the mammoth warehouse because of its job creation potential.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries was the sole opponent of the project, expressing concern for what might happen to the “very beautiful area” where it was planned.

The debate over the project led to the board later adopting its “Good Neighbor Policy,” which, like the new Rule 2305 approved by the SCAQMD board, established specific goals for developers to meet before they can break ground.

The Warehouse Indirect Source Rule puts in place a “menu-based points system” which incentivizes the use of natural gas, zero emissions on trucks, zero emission handling equipment, solar panels and zero emission electric charging infrastructure.

The rule also offers operators the option of paying mitigation fees, collected by the state, much the same as the carbon credit fees imposed on electricity providers, refiners, petrol shippers and others collected as revenue under AB 32.

According to regulators, the mitigation fee revenue will be packaged in incentive plans for the acquisition of clean trucks and other environmentally friendly equipment.

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