Controversial air pollution fee passes

May 21, 2008 11:54:15 AM PDT
A Bay Area agency has become the first in the country to approve plans to charge a fee to companies that pollute the air.

The vote means that thousands of Bay Area businesses, which produce carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases, will be paying for that pollution. For some that means next to nothing, for others it could be close to $200,000 per year.

The fees would be imposed on oil refineries - up to $190,000 dollars for the biggest polluters, but also on other businesses on a sliding scale. A larger bakery might pay $85 per year, a service station as little as $1 per year.

Shankar Prasad with the Coalition for Clean Air looks at the plan and sees blue skies, healthier people and a healthier planet.

"We as a society have a price to pay for the pollution we create. So we feel it is the right thing to do," said Prasad.

But Dennis Bolt is with the Western States Petroleum Association - 30 petrol related companies. He sees confusion between with this plan and AB32, the state global solution warming act signed by the governor that would reduce global warming gases by 25 percent by 2010.

"We have a conflicting regulatory scheme in actually achieving the reductions. So it's an actual jurisdictional dispute, a very complex legal one and all we are asking the Air District to do is just wait and lets do it in a coordinated way," said Bolt.

But Air Quality Board representatives say the state has nothing similar to this plan.

"We think that this can be a model or as act as a template, for other districts or the state as a whole to put something together to actually fund the work that the state and local districts are looking to do," said Lisa Fasano, Air quality board spokesperson.

The Petroleum Association says it is not ruling out a lawsuit over whether the Bay Area pollution board even has jurisdiction over stationary pollution sources. The plan right now is for this new pollution fee to go into effect in July.


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