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    EPA to consider making regional warehouse pollution rule federally enforceable
    • October 12, 2023

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Division will consider whether to approve a new air pollution rule, based on a recently OK’d regulatory program targeting warehouse and truck traffic emissions established by the Southland’s air quality watchdog agency — which would essentially make the local rule federally enforceable.

    The federal agency announced the possible approval on Thursday, Oct. 12.

    The South Coast Air Quality Management District, a government agency charged with cleaning and protecting the air within Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, approved two rules requiring large warehouses to offset pollution from the truck traffic they attract in 2021.

    The agency’s Rule 2035 established the Warehouse Actions and Investments to Reduce Emissions Program, and Rule 316 established a schedule of administrative fees, charged to the warehouses required to comply with the WAIRE Program, in order to fund its implementation.

    The WAIRE Program, according to the AQMD’s website, offers warehouses that are more than 100,000 square feet incentives to offset the various air pollution emissions they produce during the scope of their operations.

    “The rule allows warehouses to earn WAIRE points by completing actions such as investing in zero emission and/or near-zero emission technologies,” the EPA said in its announcement, “using solar power, installing onsite ZE charging or fueling infrastructure, or installing filtration systems in qualified buildings such as schools.”

    The Los Angeles and Long Beach region has long held the title for the most ozone-polluted region in the nation — a problem worsened by the area’s ground-level traffic, industrial operations and ports.

    The transportation sector is a major contributor to ground-level smog, according to the EPA. Near constant vehicle traffic on LA and Long Beach freeways, in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and in the skies all contribute to ozone-layer depletion and smog formation.

    But warehouses — the target of the AQMD’s new program — are also significant contributors, largely because of the truck traffic they attract to and from their facilities.

    That traffic results in the formation of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, both of which can have negative impacts on human health.

    Residents most likely to live by freeways, refineries and other industrial facilities have historically been people who are in poverty and communities of color.

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    The same is true in Long Beach, where those who live closest to the port and the 710 Freeway tend to be low-income and people of color — and those residents have worse health outcomes than the city as a whole.

    The WAIRE Program is still in the implementation process, according to the AQMD’s inaugural report about the effort; The first report was published in January, and AQMD plans to publish new reports annually.

    In WAIRE’s first year, the report said, the AQMD primarily focused on conducting outreach to business owners within the warehousing industry who will be required to comply with the rules — alongside developing an online portal to administer the program.

    Qualifying warehouses, the AQMD said, will be required to enroll in the WAIRE Program by Jan. 31, 2025.

    The EPA, meanwhile, will consider adopting its own South Coast Rule, based on AQMD’s program, that’s meant to reduce emissions from warehouses and subsequent truck traffic.

    “I have travelled to the Inland Empire and throughout the South Coast and seen firsthand how Black and Brown communities are bearing the brunt of goods moving through our country,” EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Martha Guzman said.  “This rule is an essential step toward protecting Californians that continue to shoulder a large burden of air pollution for all of us.”

    The EPA is currently accepting public comments about the proposal through Nov. 13, according to the Federal Register. If the rule is OK’d, the EPA will be able to regulate emissions from warehouses and trucks as outlined by the AQMD under the federal Clean Air Act.

    Folks can submit comments about the rule online at

    ​ Orange County Register