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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.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 172


About this Author

David C. Weber Air & Climate Change Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Seattle, WA
Office Managing Principal

David C. Weber is the Managing Principal and co-founder of Beveridge & Diamond’s Seattle office. 

He also serves as the co-chair of the firm’s Air and Climate Change group. Dave 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 Dave's practice is advising clients on national air quality and climate change issues. He represents businesses in connection with enforcement proceedings,...

Jacob P. Duginski Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond San Francisco, CA

Jake maintains a diverse regulatory and litigation practice providing client-centered, solution-driven advice.

He litigates before California’s trial and appellate courts, advises on regulatory compliance with a focus on California-specific issues, and represents clients in various administrative enforcement settings. His practice philosophy is to provide sound, timely, actionable advice with sensitivity to each individual client’s business needs. 

Clean Air, Climate Change, and CEQA

Clients who operate in California routinely find themselves with California-specific questions – Jake helps clients navigate this difficult sphere of regulatory compliance. This includes Clean Air Act permitting and compliance strategy before California’s various air quality management districts, rulemaking development and advocacy regarding California’s various climate change programs, and California Environmental Quality Act compliance.

Litigation and Administrative Enforcement

The core of Jake's litigation and administrative enforcement practice is disputes with governmental entities, representing and advising clients in the courts of California as well as local administrative agencies. Examples of his work include a successful interlocutory appeal of a crushing pre-judgment trial court order and successful defense of a $5 million administrative enforcement order.

Service Areas & Industries 

  • Air, Climate Change
  • Litigation
  • NEPA and Historic Preservation Reviews