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California's AB 617: A New Frontier in Air Quality Management... If Funded.

Last week, Governor Brown signed AB 617—a law relating to criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants from sources other than vehicles. This new law, which passed alongside AB 398 extending California’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, has the potential to make meaningful progress in reducing air pollution impacting disadvantaged communities and improving health outcomes. Rather than relying on greenhouse gas requirements to yield air quality improvements, the state tackles air quality concerns head-on. Specifically, making use of new air pollution monitoring technologies capable of detecting elevated exposures at a much more granular scale than the conventional ambient air quality monitors, AB 617 aims to establish a new community-scale emissions abatement program; updates air quality standards for certain stationary sources located in or contributing to non-attainment areas; provides for improved enforcement, and ensures community participation in the process. The one flaw appears to be insufficient funding.

Key features of the new community-scale air quality management program include: