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Colusa County to enforce stricter air pollution control measures

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors, sitting as the local Air Pollution Control District, voted 4-1 with complaint on Tuesday to begin enforcing the state law requiring industrial sources other than motor vehicles to reduce pollutants and toxic air contaminants.

Assembly Bill 617 was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 and is in the early stages of implementation, officials said. The law provided a $495 million mandate for the state to improve air quality in disadvantaged communities like Colusa County through monitoring and emissions reduction programs.

Don Kitamura, Colusa County Air Pollution standards officer, said the state, from data they have collected, has specifically targeted local tomato processing and gas well industries to deploy cleaner technologies that reduce harmful emissions.

“This has fallen in our laps (to enforce) as it is state law,” Kitamura said.

The county will receive a $50,000 grant from the state to expedite a schedule to review the emissions control technology at industrial facilities subject to the Cap-and-Trade program. The grant will come from the California Air Resources Board, Kitamura said.

Kitamura said he anticipates that the newest tomato plant will be exempt because it has newer technology to reduce air pollution emissions, but that older industrial sources in the county will be most affected.   

Supervisor Denise Carter said the problem she had with the new law is that it provided funding for government regulation and oversight, but no funding to assist local businesses retrofit their equipment with technology that curbs air pollution.

Agricultural Commissioner Greg Hinton said he also disapproved of AB 617 for several reasons, but that it is a law that the county must comply with.

Hinton said his department has been in constant contact with the local companies that will be affected by the legislation, but that Assembly Bill 617 could continue to expand based on changing interpretation of the law by the state Air Resources Board.

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