See other editions of Air Currents.

May 2016 l Volume 2016-2

In This Issue

Air District moving to Bay Area Metro Center
Air District Adopts New Refinery Rules
Open Air Forum Launched
Spare the Air Season Begins
Winter Spare the Air Comes to a Close
Air District Offers Fireplace and Wood Stove Upgrades
EV Charging Station Grants
Lawn and Garden Equipment Program
Air District Settles with Tesoro
Air District Offers Millions in Grants
Upcoming Events


Welcome to the latest issue of the Bay Area Air District’s Air Currents newsletter. In this issue, you’ll find articles about the relocation of the agency’s headquarters at the end of May, two new refinery regulations and the Air District’s new Open Air Forum online discussion portal. Other articles cover the beginning of the summer Spare the Air season and the end of the Winter Spare the Air season, as well as Air District grant programs for wood-burning device change-outs, electric vehicle charging stations and commercial lawn and garden equipment. Current grant opportunities and a recent financial settlement with a local refinery are also featured.

Air District moving to Bay Area Metro Center

New BAAQMD Building

On May 31, the Air District will be relocating to the newly redeveloped Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco. The new headquarters will also house two other regional public agencies: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The Air District’s new building address will be:

Bay Area Air Quality Management District
375 Beale Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94105

This vital new center for regional collaboration is located in the Rincon Hill neighborhood and will allow for greater integration of inter-agency planning of climate protection strategies. The headquarters building will include ample public spaces and amenities, including an auditorium/board room, a café, bicycle parking racks and more. 

The Air District is scheduled to close its operations on May 27 at its current location at 939 Ellis Street in San Francisco and reopen for business on May 31 at the new headquarters on Beale Street. 

During the relocation period, the Air District’s field offices, compliance and enforcement staff and air monitoring systems throughout the nine-county region will continue to operate.

Air District Adopts Two New Refinery Emission-Reduction Rules


On April 20, the Air District’s Board of Directors adopted two new regulations that will further tighten air pollution controls on petroleum operations at Bay Area refineries. 

Regulation 9, Rule 14, the Petroleum Coke Calcining Operations rule, reduces sulfur dioxide emissions from the largest Bay Area source, coke calcining. Coke calcining converts solids left over from the refining process into feedstocks used to make other products like steel and paint. 

Regulation 12, Rule 15, the Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking rule, is a first-of-its-kind requirement that better enables the Air District to track emissions when operational changes are made at refineries, while also allowing the agency to provide more information to the public. This rule mandates improved reporting of emissions inventories, tracks crude slate changes and improves real-time monitoring of emissions at refinery fence-lines in order to protect local communities. 

The rules are part of a suite of stepped-up refinery-focused regulations initiated in 2012.

In 2015, the Air District adopted a set of refinery controls that targeted pollution from equipment leaks, toxic compounds, methane and particulate emissions from catalytic cracking units. 

Along with last year’s rules, the two latest rules are projected to account for a 15 percent reduction in air pollution from Bay Area petroleum refineries.

During the next few years, the Air District will continue to develop regulations to further reduce refinery emissions.  

Air District Launches Open Air Forum

Open Air Forum

In March, the Air District launched a new online civic engagement tool, Open Air Forum.

Open Air Forum is an innovative online public participation platform that offers our communities a new way to interact with the Air District and provide feedback on specific Air District topics.

The inaugural topic of discussion on Open Air Forum was the set of emission reduction measures proposed for inclusion in the Air District’s 2016 Clean Air Plan / Regional Climate Protection Strategy.  This plan provides a roadmap for the Air District to reduce air pollution and protect public health and the global climate through actions in key areas – energy, transportation, water, stationary sources, buildings, waste, natural and working lands, short-lived climate pollutants, and agriculture.

Earlier this year, the Air District invited the community to participate in a series of open houses throughout the Bay Area to weigh in on the proposed actions in the Clean Air Plan. Thanks to Open Air Forum, anyone who was unable to attend an open house was able to access and review all the materials through this online platform, and provide comment. Public comment on the initial draft closed on April 1, but additional opportunities for public input in this important process will be available this summer.

In the future, Open Air Forum will continue to provide easy access to important Air District topics, documents or rules. It can be accessed through the Air District’s homepage at or directly at

The Air District is the first air quality management agency in the state to launch this type of online platform, in a trailblazing effort to facilitate public involvement in its ongoing pollution-reduction and climate-protection activities.

Spare the Air Summer Season Begins

Spare the Air Logo

On May 2, the Air District is launching the 2016 Spare the Air season, which focuses on reducing smog-forming pollution during the warmer summer months. 

The summer Spare the Air program encourages Bay Area residents to reduce air pollution every day by rethinking their commute and avoiding driving alone.

Transportation is the largest source of smog pollution in the Bay Area and single-occupancy vehicles are the main contributors. The number-one thing Bay Area residents can do to improve air quality is to leave their car at home. 

Air District survey results show that Bay Area employees are more likely to adopt alternatives to driving alone when encouraged to do so by their employer. Employers can register for the Spare the Air Employer Program to access resources that will help employees find a clean air commute. 

Eligible employees can also make sure that their employers are signed up for the Bay Area Commuter Benefits program, which requires all employers in the Air District’s jurisdiction with 50 or more full-time employees to offer commuter benefits to their workers.

During the summer months, Spare the Air Alerts are issued when ozone pollution is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. Ozone, or smog, can cause throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema. Ozone pollution is particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. When a Spare the Air Alert is issued, outdoor exercise should be limited to the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are lower.

To find out when a Spare the Air Alert is in effect, register for email AirAlerts at, call 1(800) HELP-AIR, download the Spare the Air App or connect with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter.

For more information about Spare the Air, visit

Quiet Winter Spare the Air Season Comes to a Close

2013 Winer Spare the Air

The Air District’s Winter Spare the Air season ended February 29, with only one Winter Spare the Air Alert issued.

The Bay Area experienced consistently cleaner air this season, as frequent storm systems moved through California from November through early February, helping to disperse air pollution.

During the previous Winter Spare the Air Season of 2014-2015, there was a stretch of 56 straight days in January and February without rainfall in San Francisco. In contrast, during the past season, the longest stretch of dry weather in San Francisco occurred during February and lasted only 14 days.

The Air District received a total of 1,302 wood smoke complaints from residents. One ticket was issued to a Santa Clara County resident who was observed to be in violation of the Wood Burning Rule.

Complaints by County
Alameda – 239
Contra Costa – 147
Marin – 155
Napa – 26
San Francisco – 48
San Mateo – 288
Santa Clara – 303
Solano – 16
Sonoma – 76
County unspecified - 4
TOTAL – 1,302

The Wood Burning Rule still requires, on a year-round basis, that residents who burn in a fireplace or outdoor fire pit burn cleanly using dry, seasoned firewood and not burn garbage, leaves or other material that would cause excessive smoke. Residents who exceed the visible smoke provision of the Wood Burning Rule can still be subject to a ticket, even outside the November–February Winter Spare the Air season.

Air District Approves $3 Million for Fireplace and Wood Stove Upgrades


In February, the Air District’s Board of Directors approved $3 million in funding to be used for the upgrading of wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves with cleaner heating options.

Incentives for this program are expected to be made available to Bay Area residents later this summer. The program is still under development, but residents can sign up to be placed on a mailing list to receive updates.

The funding will provide assistance for up to 1,300 Bay Area households to replace their older, more highly polluting fireplaces or wood stoves with cleaner electric heat pumps, or natural gas or propane stoves or inserts. Residents will also have the option of decommissioning their fireplace or non-EPA-certified wood stove, permanently taking it out of service.

Incentives will range from $750 up to $12,000, depending on the type of new device being installed, income level, location and wood-burning rule exemption status (if the household’s wood-burning device is currently the sole source of heating). 

A full breakdown of available incentives is shown below:

Device and Cost Estimate  / Air District Incentive

Heat Pump: $4,000-12,000  / $3,500

Gas-Fueled Stove/Insert
(Natural Gas or Propane): $3,500-5,000  $1,000

Decommission Fireplace: $1,500-5,000  $750

Enhanced Funding for Select Groups

Low-Income Household - $8,500
Exempt Household - $1,500
Areas Heavily Impacted by Wood Smoke - $1,500

Air District Offers $1.1 Million for New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Charging Station

In February, the Air District’s Board of Directors approved funding for 92 new plug-in electric vehicle charging stations to be deployed in the nine-county region. 

The new charging stations will expand electric vehicle, or EV, infrastructure in Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties.

The project, funded through the Reformulated Gasoline Open Grants Program and Transportation Fund for Clean Air, provided grants for the installation of new, publicly available EV charging stations along major transportation corridors, at workplaces, and at key locations.

Only public agencies were eligible to apply and funds were awarded through a competitive grant application process.

The program prioritized projects that were “shovel-ready,” and were located in Air District-designated Community Air Risk Evaluation priority areas. At least 25 percent of Reformulated Gasoline grants program funding, or $112,500, is reserved for projects in these CARE communities that experience higher air pollution exposures.

The nine selected projects will involve installation of 92 charging stations at 23 locations throughout the Bay Area. Over a three-year period, they are estimated to reduce criteria pollutant emissions by 1.3 tons, greenhouse gas emissions by 2,500 tons, and gasoline usage by approximately 300,000 gallons.

There are currently more than 70,000 model-year 2010 and newer electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles registered to Bay Area drivers. This represents nearly 40 percent of the total number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles registered in California, and approximately 1 percent of the Bay Area’s entire vehicle fleet.

Air District Offers Commercial Lawn and Garden Equipment Exchange Program

Lawmower Program

The Air District is offering a commercial lawn and garden equipment exchange program for public agencies, such as schools and city public works and parks departments. 

Funding of $517,000 is available to scrap and replace older lawn and garden equipment with new, battery-powered electric equivalents. Funding for this program derives from legal settlements with Conoco Phillips, under which penalties must be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Commercial lawn and garden equipment is used much more frequently than residential equipment. There are an estimated 300,000 pieces of this equipment in the Bay Area, which emit about 135 tons of greenhouse gases daily. Replacing this equipment with cleaner, battery-powered alternatives could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The targeted equipment includes lawn mowers, leaf blowers, sweepers, chainsaws, line trimmers, and hedge trimmers. In addition to funding the purchase of the actual equipment, money will be available for the purchase of two batteries for each piece of electric equipment and one battery charger.

While the cost of the lighter electric hand-held lawn and garden equipment is comparable to conventional equipment, the larger electric push and riding lawn mowers are more expensive than their conventional counterparts.

By providing financial incentives for the purchase and use of the pioneering battery-electric equipment, public agencies can become familiar with the improved performance, lower maintenance, and operational savings of switching to cleaner alternatives. 

Air District Settles Case with Tesoro


In February, Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co. agreed to pay the Air District $646,140 to settle air pollution violations at its Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez.

The settlement covered 36 notices of violation issued to Tesoro for non-compliance in 2012.

The majority of the 36 violation notices were issued for problems with Tesoro's Leak Detection and Repair Program.  The Air District enforces stringent Leak Detection and Repair regulations that require facilities such as Tesoro to periodically inspect for leaking equipment and swiftly repair all leaks found.  If a facility discovers a leak and promptly records and repairs it, it remains in compliance with Air District regulations.  But if a facility fails to make proper inspections, or delays in recording or repairing a leak—or if a leak goes unnoticed until the Air District discovers it—a violation notice will be issued.

Seven of the Tesoro violation notices were issued for leaking pressure relief valves on storage tanks, one was issued for exposing storage tank contents to the atmosphere, and three for additional tank leak problems.  One notice of violation was issued for failing to properly repair leaking vapor hoses. There were several violations of emission-based standards, several for the failure to conduct required source tests on time and several reporting violations.

All the violations that led to this settlement have been corrected.

The Air District issues notices of violation when facilities violate a specific air quality regulation or rule.  Violators are generally required to respond to the notice within ten days and submit a description of the actions they will take to correct the problem.  These actions can include shutting down operation immediately, or changing operations or equipment to come into compliance. 

All settlement funds will be used for Air District activities such as the inspection and enforcement activities that led to this settlement. 

Air District Offers Millions in Grants

Grant Funds

Carl Moyer Program - Funding is available for the upgrade or replacement of diesel engines and equipment, including trucks, off-road equipment, marine engines, locomotives and agricultural equipment.  Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are awarded.

Voucher Incentive Program - Funding is available for diesel truck replacements and retrofits.  Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been allocated. 

Lower-Emission School Bus Program - Funding is available for school bus retrofits, public school CNG tank replacements and public school bus replacements.

Goods Movement Program - Applications will be accepted later in 2016 for the upgrade or replacement of freight movement equipment. 

Heavy-Duty Zero-Emissions Vehicle Program – Funding is available for the purchase or lease of zero-emissions heavy-duty buses.  Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until June 22, 2016, unless funds are exhausted sooner. 

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Rebate Program - Funding is available to public agencies who purchase or lease zero- and partial zero-emissions light-duty cars, neighborhood electric vehicles and motorcycles.  The application deadline is June 22, 2016, unless funds are exhausted sooner. 

Bicycle Racks and Electronic Bicycle Lockers - Funding is available to public agencies that purchase and install new bicycle racks and electronic bicycle lockers through the Bicycle Rack Voucher Program and the Electronic Bicycle Locker program. The application deadline for both programs is June 22, 2016. and

Air District Events


Albany Arts & Green Festival – Albany
May 1

Sunday Streets Bayview – San Francisco
May 1

City of Richmond 34th Annual Senior Health and Information Faire - Richmond
May 11

City of Oakland Bike to Work day – Oakland
May 12


WOBO Love Our Neighborhood Day – Oakland
June 4

San Mateo County Fair -  San Mateo
June 11-19

Fairfax EcoFest – Fairfax
June 11-12

Sunday Streets Sunset – San Francisco
June 12


Sunday Streets Tenderloin – San Francisco
July 10

Jack London Pedalfest – Oakland
July 23