Cleaner Air Partnership: 2016 in ReCAP

Cleaner Air Partnership: 2016 ReCAP

The past year saw the Cleaner Air Partnership (CAP) continue the quest for cleaner air across California’s Capital Region. A joint initiative of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, the Metro Chamber of Commerce, and Valley Vision, the Cleaner Air Partnership has worked for the past 30 years to support measures that improve air quality, protect public health, and promote economic growth.

In early 2017, the Cleaner Air Partnership will release a 5-year update to the region’s clean air report card, demonstrating the results we’ve achieved by working together on the issue of air quality. The Capital Region has seen significant improvements in air quality over time, yet the mission of cleaner air remains important to our health and potential for economic growth. As more is learned about the health impacts of poor air quality, clean air standards continue to be strengthened, making the cross-sector collaborative work of the Partnership more critical than ever.

The Capital Region does not meet federal air quality standards for ozone (commonly referred to as “smog”) and has challenges with small particle pollution known as PM2.5 (or “soot” in layman’s terms). Our ozone issues result from the exhaust of millions of cars and trucks on our roads combined with summer time heat.  Issues with small particle pollution result from the exhaust of diesel engines, and smoke from wood burning and wildfire. Only recently has the region met the federal standard for PM2.5. Wood smoke from fire places in winter time and the always-present potential for wildfire put the region at risk of slipping out of “attainment” for the PM2.5 standard. Not meeting air quality standards has real implications on the potential for business and economic growth.

In 2016, the Cleaner Air Partnership built awareness of many important air quality issues as part of our quarterly luncheon speaker series. In March, the featured topic was Air Quality & Growth: How do we Grow from Here? We heard a recap of the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference from Sacramento City Council Member Eric Guerra. The council member made the case for wise planning decisions that contribute to better air quality and improved quality of life. “My recent trip to Portland showed me the importance of neighborhood walkability and easy transit access,” said Guerra. “We have much we can learn” about incorporating smart growth principles in our city planning efforts, he said.

In June, we explored linkages between air quality and economic growth, with a focus on Yolo and Solano counties. John M. Vasquez, Solano County Supervisor, District 4 and Chair of the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District (YSAQMD) Board of Directors and others spoke about the importance of air quality to our region’s potential for economic growth.

The intersection of air quality and community health was explored at the Cleaner Air Partnership quarterly meeting in September.  Ashley Brand, Director of Community Health and Outreach with Dignity Health presented an overview of the requirements of nonprofit hospitals for community benefit programs and Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA). Valley Vision staff shared the highlights of regional priority health needs based on an analysis of aggregate regional CHNA data.  Multiple priority health needs for the region intersect with air quality, including the need for affordable and accessible transportation. Lack of transportation can be a barrier to accessing medical services, particularly in rural areas.

In December, the final luncheon topic of the year centered on Air Quality, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities. The event was held at the Sacramento Association of REALTORS® on Howe Avenue. Featured speakers were Kate White, Deputy Secretary of Environmental Policy and Housing Coordination, California State Transportation Agency; and Kacey Lizon, Planning Manager with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). The program also featured a local government panel discussion with Lucas Frerichs, Council Member, City of Davis; David Sander, Mayor, City of Rancho Cordova; and Katie Yancey, Senior Program Manager, Economic Development and Housing, City of West Sacramento. Read more about it here (Dec 2 blog URL).

Advocacy areas for the Cleaner Air Partnership in 2016 included improving regional transit, continued investments in voluntary incentives to support the transition to cleaner vehicles, and securing appropriate funding for air management districts to carry out federal requirements for meeting air quality goals. A new area of advocacy for the Partnership is a focus on forest health and resilience to reduce the risk of wildfire and its associated air quality and health impacts.

2017 will see a continued focus on these advocacy areas and a renewed importance of the value of cross-sector collaboration in advancing the Capital Region’s clean energy economy. The Cleaner Air Partnership looks forward contributing to these efforts in our continued quest for cleaner air.


Tammy Cronin is a Valley Vision Project Leader for the Cleaner Air Partnership and other initiatives of the clean economy portfolio.

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