Research Report: Cap-to-Cap 2019 Air Quality Issue Papers

These documents encompass the two 2019 Air Quality team issue papers carried at the Metro Chamber’s annual Capitol-to-Capitol federal advocacy program.

Federal Investments to Advance Mobility and Cleaner Transportation in the Sacramento Region:

Requested Action: We urge Congress and our federal agency partners to advance multimodal mobility through new funding programs, invest in the shift to clean transportation, and support critical existing safeguards to air quality, including the Clean Air Act. We also encourage adequate funding for grant and incentive programs, and ask that EPA clean air funding be maintained, Section 103 grants be restored, DERA funding be maintained, longer-term incentive programs to aid regional transportation-related emission reductions be continued, innovative voluntary measures for reducing pollution be funded, and other incentive-based funding solutions continue to be supported.

Background: Transportation sector emissions are growing and are now the largest source of air and climate pollution. Exposure to hazardous air pollutants from diesel engines and gasoline cars results in an elevated risk several times above the state average in some parts of the Sacramento region. The transportation sector is at a tipping point for dramatic disruption and transformation with the rise of zero-emission electric vehicles automation, connectivity, and alternative mobility options. We ask for support in securing bold and necessary investments in future-ready transportation systems that lower emissions, improve public health, and ensure equitable access to new mobility options.

Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention, Response, and Recovery:

Requested Action: We urge Congress and our federal agency partners to support Fire Prevention and Forest Health to meaningfully enable 20-year Master Stewardship Agreements, expand the use of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between federal agencies and non-federal partners, ensure that the US Forest Service meets its commitment to treat 500,000 acres per year of its lands in California, improve the implementation of prescribed burns, streamline NEPA/CEQA approvals, address the problem of widespread insurance coverage cancellation, and increase the use of biomass. We also urge action to support forest response in eliminating the practice of “fire-borrowing,” supporting the development of “Clean Air Centers,” helping to deploy new monitoring technologies to key areas, and enhancing eligibility for FEMA funding under federal emergency declaration. We further encourage post-fire recovery by enabling air districts to recoup extraordinary expenses associated with fires, streamlining the EPA’s use of “exceptional event” declarations, and incentivizing the use of biomass and other wood removal technologies to treat impacted areas and carbon mass.

Background: The California wildfires of 2018 were the largest and deadliest in the State’s recorded history, far surpassing records just set in 2017. Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed and 86 people died in the Camp Fire, the State’s deadliest fire ever. Decades of fire suppression, warmer average temperatures, extended drought, and inadequate vegetation management are contributing to larger, more severe, and more destructive fires. Climate change modeling predicts an acceleration of this trend. The Federal government’s policies, programs and funding need to support sustainable forest management at all stages to prevent the dislocation of thousands of people, strained state and federal resources, increased air pollution, impacted water supplies, and the entire offsetting of the State’s significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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