Short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, fluorinated gases, and methane, create a number of hazardous effects on air quality, public health, and climate change. SB 1383, which will be heard by the California Assembly Appropriations Committee after the July 1-August 1 recess, is intended to help reduce California’s SLCP emissions by 2030. Essentially, SB 1383 requires the California Air Resources Board to implement the Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Strategy developed under SB 605.
SB 605 was authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (as SB 1383 was) and signed by the governor in 2014. On April 11, 2016, CARB published the Strategy, which is scheduled for adoption in September. In addition to setting the 40/40/50 targets for key SLCPs, the Strategy proposes specific measures, including:
removing and replacing old fireplaces and woodstoves;
implementing a sustainable freight strategy;
creating regulations for best management practices for new dairies;
creating financial incentives for manure management and dairy digesters;
requiring organics diversion from landfills;
creating regulations to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production, processing and storage;
creating financial incentives for low-GWP refrigerant early adoption; and
banning the sale of very-high GWP refrigerants and prohibitions on new equipment using high GWP gases.
According to the Strategy, growing SLCP emissions threaten to erode the State’s progress towards the GHG limits set in AB 32, and continued emissions will put increased pressure on the remainder of ARB’s regulatory structure to maintain overall emissions below the GHG limit and to continue reductions. SB 1383 would help the state meet the 2020 GHG emissions reductions targets set by AB 32: the Strategy developed under SB 605 is identified in the First Update to the AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan as one of the recommended actions to achieve additional GHG emission reductions. Additionally, SB 1383 would regulate black carbon as a GHG, and it would extending AB 32’s target reductions in Methane and HFCs from 2020 to 2030.
The Strategy developed under SB 605 aims to make substantial cuts in statewide emissions, as compared to 2013, by 2030. SB 1383 would set the following 2030 emissions reduction targets:
methane would be cut 40 percent,
hydrofluorocarbon gases would be cut by 40 percent, and
anthropogenic black carbon would be cut by 50 percent.
All the regulatory measures implemented by CARB under SB 1383 SLCP Reduction Strategy would undergo public review and economic and environmental evaluations.
More about SCLPs
SCLPs are responsible for an estimated 40% of present global warming effects, and actions to reduce SLCP emissions globally could cut the amount of warming that would occur over the next few decades by half (for a discussion of these statistics and how California’s SLCP reduction efforts tie in with possible global actions, check out the Introduction of the Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Strategy starting on page 13). CO2 emissions must be steadily reduced for long-term climate stability, but a global commitment and near-term actions to dramatically reduce SLCP emissions over the next 10–15 years are also essential (CARB, 2016).
These toxic air contaminants are also a significant environmental risk factor for premature death, and reducing these emissions can have an immediate beneficial impact on public health. The American Lung Association’s 2015 State of the Air report found that the top five US cities most impacted by unhealthy ozone days are in California, as are the top seven cities burdened with unhealthy particle pollution days. Health impacts of air pollution range from asthma attacks and hospitalizations for lung and heart illnesses, cancer, and premature death; these health impacts of air pollution cost billions annually. Disturbingly, the Lung Association concluded that air pollution contributes to over 7,000 premature deaths per year in California.
Black Carbon has a global warming potential 3200 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time scale. The primary sources of black carbon, or soot, are diesel and gas emissions from the transportation sector, emissions from the industrial and energy sector, heavy machinery, and fireplaces. Black carbon contributes to chronic respiratory health problems, and accelerates global warming. However, soot is not currently listed under AB 32 as a greenhouse gas under AB 32.
Fluroinated gases (f-gases), including Hydrofluorocarbons, are man-made gases used primarily in aerosols, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. HFCs, on average, have a global warming potential 1600 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time scale. Currently, HFCs are a small fraction of the total climate forcing, but they are the fastest growing source of GHG pollution.
Methane, which is approximately 80 times more powerful as a global warming pollutant than CO2 on a 20- year time scale, is a significant driver of climate change; methane is also the main precursor of tropospheric ozone (O3), leading to respiratory illness in humans and contributing to heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. The most significant sources of methane in California are manure from agriculture, dairy cows, landfills, and leakage from oil and gas operation pipelines. Methane leaked from oil and gas operations is accompanied by toxics such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde, pollutants that are linked to health impacts ranging from lung damage and asthma attacks to premature deaths. Many major sources of methane emissions, including dairies, landfills, and natural gas distribution, are unregulated. A 2014 Stanford University study found that methane emissions are at least 50% higher than official estimates from the US EPA.
In late 2015, a massive leak at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Field released an estimated 97,100 metric tons of methane near Porter Ranch, a community in Los Angeles. At its peak, this single emissions source doubled the methane emissions rate of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Research reported in an LA Time article estimates that the Aliso Canyon leak gave off enough methane, integrated over 100 years, to produce the same amount of global warming as 572,000 passenger cars in the US in a full year. (A New York Times article placed the estimate at 1,735,404 passenger cars in a full year; the article also stated that “If well SS-25 were a nation-state, it would have contributed to global climate change at a rate exceeding that of Senegal, Laos, Lithuania, Estonia, Zimbabwe, Albania, Brunei, Slovenia, Nicaragua, Panama, Jamaica, Latvia, Georgia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Tajikistan, Armenia and Iceland. SS-25 would rank just behind Mali.”.) The leak continued for 4 months and resulted in more than 6,000 people being evacuated from their homes.
Bill Analysis: Senate Environmental Quality (4/04/16), Senate Appropriations (5/02/16), Senate Floor Analysis (5/2816), and Assembly Natural Resources (06/24/16)