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SCAQMD Adopts Dramatic Increase in Fees, Offsetting Costs of AB 617 and Toxics Regulation

The South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted an amendment to its Rule 301 on June 7, aimed at collecting nearly ten times the amount of fees it has historically garnished under its toxics emissions fee program. The amendment will include a new Base Toxics Fee, a new Flat Rate Device Fee, and a new Cancer Potency-Weighted Fee, imposed on entities that emit toxics above certain thresholds. Implementation of amended Rule 301 starts with facilities reporting toxics emissions for 2019, with the increased fees due in 2020.

One of the most controversial aspects of the amendment is the application of significantly higher fees for emissions with higher cancer potency. District staff justified the increase in fees by pointing to the discrepancy in the SCAQMD’s workload and the amount of money it expends regulating toxics emissions ($20MM/yr), and the amount of fees actually collected in support of that effort ($0.5MM/yr). The new fees are estimated to net the District $4.9 million annually. Roughly $10 million, or half of the District’s work expenditures, was allocated to the implementation of AB 617, a 2017 State legislative measure aimed at reducing emissions in California’s most affected communities through enhanced monitoring, citizen efforts and commanding adoption of increased emissions controls. The SCAQMD has three communities out of the ten identified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as subject to AB 617’s “first-year community” requirements, including the creation of community steering committees to guide emissions monitoring efforts and emissions reduction programs. The State allocated millions to support these efforts through SB 856, and it appears that the SCAQMD plans to potentially outpace any future funding. 

Entities not currently subject to the SCAQMD’s reporting requirements should follow closely CARB’s development of its Criteria and Toxics Reporting regulation. Amendments proposed to this regulation are set to significantly expand the facilities that are required to report emissions (current estimates are that an additional 48,700 facilities would need to report) and may, therefore, expand the facilities that are required to pay under the District’s toxics fee program. Those already paying fees related to their toxics emissions should also be paying attention, because an expanded group of reporting entities may affect the District’s calculations on how much it needs to increase fees to offset program costs in the future.

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David C. Weber, Beveridge and Diamond, co founder, seattle, washington, environmental law, air, Air and Climate Change Practice Group, national air quality
Principal

David Weber is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Beveridge & Diamond’s Seattle, Washington office.  He also serves as the co-chair of the Firm’s Air and Climate Change Practice Group. David focuses his practice on environmental litigation and compliance counseling, including air and water quality regulation, hazardous waste handling and remediation, and contaminated site cleanups under federal and state laws.

A cornerstone of David’s practice is advising clients on national air quality and climate change issues. He represents...

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Jacob P. Duginski, Beveridge Diamond, Environmental Regulation Attorney, Manufacturing Industry Lawyer
Associate

Jacob Duginski works with clients nationwide across industrial sectors on a variety of environmental litigation and regulatory matters.

While at Lewis & Clark Law School, Jacob served as Associate Editor of Environmental Law (Law Review), and as a case summary author for Ninth Circuit Environmental Review, writing and editing summaries of cutting-edge environmental cases in the Ninth Circuit which were published in Environmental Law. Jacob competed in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition at Pace Law School in 2015 as part of Lewis & Clark’s semi-finalist team.  

Jacob interned at Trustees for Alaska, where he drafted legal memoranda requiring synthesis of statutory interpretation and case law under Alaska Statutes and various federal natural resource statutory regimes, and also at Earthrise Environmental Law Litigation Clinic, where he conducted research under the Clean Water Act and the United States Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit Program.

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