The California Legislature enacted the California Environmental Quality
Act (CEQA) in 1970. CEQA recognizes the importance of input from public
agencies that have “jurisdiction by law” over natural resource areas and requires
public agencies to consider and disclose the environmental effects of a project
to the public. The Placer County Air Pollution Control District
(District) is established by the California Health and Safety Code as a public
agency having primary responsibility for overseeing and regulating air
pollution within Placer County. As a public agency, the District takes an active
part in the intergovernmental review process under CEQA. In general, the
District acts as a commenting agency in response to lead agencies’ requests to
review and comment on environmental documents which are prepared by lead
agencies (cities, county, and other public agencies) for discretionary land use
development projects within Placer County.
The District works closely with local
jurisdictions to provide professional assistance in the identification of air
quality impacts associated with land use projects in Placer County.
The District provides local agencies
information about how to comply with CEQA through its CEQA Review Program.
Staff review and sometimes comment on environmental documents, providing lead
agencies with valuable information and technical support related to potential
air quality impacts from land use projects. As a part of the review program,
the District developed a CEQA Handbook in 2012, which was designed as an
advisory tool with recommended mitigation measures, emission estimation models,
and step-by-step procedures for conducting a thorough air quality analysis for
land use projects. The District’s CEQA Handbook can be reviewed and downloaded
from CEQA Air Quality Handbook.
In addition to the District’s CEQA handbook, the District’s Board of Directors
adopted the Review of Land Use Projects under CEQA Policy in 2016. The policy
established the thresholds of significance for criteria pollutants as well as
greenhouse gases and the review principles which serve as guidelines for the
District staff when reviewing and commenting on the environmental documents
prepared by lead agencies. The detailed content of the policy and associated
analytical assessments for significance thresholds can be reviewed and
downloaded from CEQA
Thresholds and Review Principles.
CEQA Modeling Analysis Tools
Models are commonly used to calculate land use development project
air emissions. During the review, various modeling tools are available for the
project to evaluate its related air quality impacts.
The District recommends using California Emissions Estimator
Model (CalEEMod) to estimate both criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas
emissions from land development projects. The latest model version (2016.3.1)
and user’s guide can be downloaded at www.caleemod.com.
2. Roadway Construction Emission Model
The District recommends using the Roadway Construction Emission
Model for road related construction and linear projects. The model is developed
by Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) and can be
downloaded from here.
3. EMFAC Model
The Emission Factors (EMFAC) model is developed by California
Air Resources Board (CARB) that contains population, activities, and emission
factors from all types of motor vehicles operating on highways, freeways, and
local roads in California. It can assess the mobile source emissions for each
air basin, county, or statewide. CARB creates an EMFAC Web Database which can
provide a quick and easy way to access commonly used EMFAC emissions and
emission factors data without having to install and run EMFAC model. The EMFAC
Web Database can be accessed from here.
If the project
proposes a modeling analysis rather than the above Districts’ recommended
models, please consult with the District staff prior to conducting
concerns are identified pertaining to the air quality, District staff will
recommend on-site and off-site mitigation measures to lead agencies for
consideration. The list of recommended mitigation measures can be found at the
District’s CEQA Handbook Appendix A (for construction impacts), C (for
operational impacts), and G (for greenhouse has impacts). In addition to the
District’s measure list, California Air Pollution Control Officer Association
(CAPCOA) also prepared a report of Qualifying Greenhouses Gas Mitigation Measures from selected strategies to provide a common platform of
information and tools for identifying feasible mitigation measures for
greenhouse gas emission reduction.
District recommends on-site mitigation measures as the preferred mechanism to
reduce potential air quality impacts from the proposed land use development
Off-Site Mitigation Fee Program
District’s Board of Directors adopted the Land Use Air Quality Mitigation FundsPolicy in April 2001and amended it in December 2008. The policy resulted in establishing the PCAPCD Off-site
Mitigation Fee Program which provided an alternative for land use
development projects to offset the increased emissions from new land use
development projects by paying monetary incentives and established guidelines
for the use of air quality mitigation funds received from developers. The
project developers can utilize this program as an optional mitigation measure
when the on-site mitigations are insufficient to offset their related impacts
to below the applicable thresholds. It is a voluntary measure which would be
recommended by the District through the CEQA review process to the developers
and lead agencies for consideration.
The fee is calculated based on the amount of emissions above the
thresholds and the cost-effectiveness factor updated by the
latest California Air Resources Board’s Carl Moyer Program Guideline Cost-effectiveness is a measure of the dollars provided
for each ton of covered emission reductions. CARB reviews and adjusts it to
reflect emission reduction market conditions.
The current rate for the District’s off-site mitigation fee
calculation is $18,260
per ton of ozone precursor emissions (ROG or NOx), effective January 1, 2016.
The Evolution of the District’s CEQA Review Program
October, 2012 Board Meeting: The Board was introduced to the release of 1st CEQA Handbook prepared by Staff to explain the District’s CEQA Review Program.
June, 2010 Board Meeting: The Board approved a motion to support the existing thresholds and directed staff to continue using the existing thresholds associated with land use projects.
August, 2009: The District hosts its first Greenhouse Gas Workshop and Presentation for land use planners and CEQA practitioners.
December, 2008 Board Meeting: The Board was informed of the Districts existing CEQA review program, including the District’s recommended thresholds, and staff discussed the compilation of a future “CEQA Handbook”.