Air Quality Assessment

What is CEQA?

What are the Ventura County Air Quality Assessment Guidelines?

What is CalEEMod?

How is the District involved?

What about greenhouse gases and CEQA?

Stay informed


The District’s Planning and Evaluation Division assists project applicants and lead agencies to prepare environmental documents under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by providing air quality data and other needed information. Staff also reviews and comments on air quality sections of environmental documents. We also occasionally prepare air quality sections of environmental documents. District staff is available for consultation at any time in the project review process.

 

What is CEQA?

CEQA provides governmental decisionmakers and the public with information about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed projects. Projects are classified as either discretionary or ministerial.

 

CEQA applies to all discretionary activities proposed to be carried out or approved by California public agencies, unless an exemption applies. When a public official in a governmental agency can use its judgment in deciding whether and how to carry out or approve a project, it is a discretionary project. If the public official of the governmental agency merely applies the law to the facts as presented, but uses little or no personal judgment, the project is ministerial, and exempt from CEQA.

 

The goals of CEQA are for California’s public agencies to identify the significant environmental effects of their actions; and, either avoid those significant environmental effects, where feasible; or mitigate those significant environmental effects, where feasible. By identifying and discussing all significant impacts, CEQA allows the project applicant to change the project to mitigate adverse effects; lead agencies to be provided the information necessary to impose conditions on the project to mitigate adverse effects; the public access to information about the effects of projects; and policy boards to receive important information for determining whether the project “protects the public health, safety and welfare.”

 

What are the Ventura County Air Quality Assessment Guidelines?

The Ventura County Air Quality Assessment Guidelines (Guidelines) is an advisory document prepared by the District that provides lead agencies, consultants, and project applicants with a framework and uniform methods for preparing air quality impact assessments and the air quality section of environmental documents for projects that require discretionary entitlements.
Pursuant to CEQA, the Guidelines recommend specific criteria and threshold levels for determining whether a proposed project may have a significant adverse air quality impact. The Guidelines also provide mitigation measures that may be useful for mitigating the air quality impacts of proposed projects.

 

What is CalEEMod?

CalEEMod (short for California Emissions Estimator Model) is a statewide computer emissions estimating model released in February 2011. CalEEMod calculates criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of land uses, including residential and commercial projects. An estimate of project emissions can be accomplished with just a few inputs from the user. The model quantifies direct emissions from construction and operation (including vehicle use), as well as indirect emissions, such as energy use, solid waste disposal, vegetation planting and/or removal, and water use. Further, the model identifies mitigation measures to reduce criteria pollutant and GHG emissions along with calculating the benefits achieved from measures chosen by the user. The GHG mitigation measures were recently developed and adopted by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA). District staff recommends use of the latest version of CalEEMod for estimating emissions from proposed land use development projects.

 

How is the District involved?

The District’s Planning and Evaluation Division assists project applicants and lead agencies with preparation of environmental documents by providing air quality data and other needed information.

 

The District also reviews and comments on air quality sections of environmental documents and occasionally prepares air quality sections of environmental documents.

 

District staff is available for consultation at any time during the project review process.

 

What about greenhouse gases and CEQA?

As a result of revisions to the CEQA Guidelines that became effective in March 2010, lead agencies are obligated to determine whether a project’s GHG emissions significantly affect the environment and to impose feasible mitigation to eliminate or substantially lessen any such significant effects.

 

At its September 13, 2011 Board meeting, the Ventura County Air Pollution Control Board requested that District staff report back on possible greenhouse gas significance thresholds for evaluating GHG impacts of land use projects in Ventura County under CEQA. At the November 8, 2011 Board meeting, District staff submitted a report to the board entitled Greenhouse Gas Thresholds of Significance Options for Land Use Development Projects in Ventura County. The accompanying Powerpoint presentation to the Board report is available here.

 

Additionally, District staff has compiled a list of resources related to GHG thresholds of significance, GHG reduction strategies, and mitigation measures to reduce GHG from land use development projects.

 

Stay informed

The California Environmental Quality Act statute and guidelines are available from the California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) website at:

http://www.ceres.ca.gov/planning/ceqa

 

The District Guidelines document is available to download free of charge at:

http://www.vcapcd.org/pubs/Planning/VCAQGuidelines.pdf

 

The latest version of CalEEMod is available at:

http://www.caleemod.com

 

The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association website is:

http://www.capcoa.org