EPA Proposes Approval of Groundbreaking Rule to Reduce Southern California Air Pollution Driven by Warehouse Operations
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve a rule by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) that is serving to protect communities from air pollution generated by warehouse operations, including freight vehicle trips to and from warehouses. The South Coast AQMD area covers large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley, and is home to more than 17 million people, approximately 44% of the population of the entire state of California.
By proposing approval of the South Coast rule, we are seeking to better protect overburdened communities from the harmful effects of air pollution,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “I have travelled to the Inland Empire and throughout the South Coast and seen firsthand how Black and Brown communities are bearing the brunt of goods moving through our country, with damaging impacts such as asthma, missed days of school or work, and increased medical bills. This rule is an essential step toward protecting Californians that continue to shoulder a large burden of air pollution for all of us.”
In 2021, the South Coast AQMD adopted a rule that requires large warehouses to offset pollution from the truck traffic they attract. The South Coast rule, known as the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, serves to reduce harmful air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, from warehouse operations. The rule also addresses related mobile sources of pollution, such as trucks that deliver goods to and from the facilities, yard trucks, and transport refrigeration units. Additional emissions sources can include onsite stationary equipment such as diesel backup generators or manufacturing equipment.
The South Coast rule creates a point system known as Warehouse Actions and Investments to Reduce Emissions (WAIRE). The rule allows warehouses to earn WAIRE points by completing actions such as investing in zero emission (ZE) and/or near-zero emission technologies, using solar power, installing onsite ZE charging or fueling infrastructure, or installing filtration systems in qualified buildings such as schools. Other options to earn WAIRE points include developing a custom WAIRE plan or paying mitigation fees. By 2025, all warehouses over 100,000 square feet will be subject to the rule.
Pollution from mobile sources – ships, trucks, and trains – contribute to poor air quality in the greater Los Angeles region. If finalized as proposed, the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, which is part of a larger multi-prong strategy to reduce emissions from mobile sources and improve public health, will become federally enforceable.
In addition to this rule from the local air district, EPA’s national-level actions to tighten engine emission standards for new vehicles, including heavy duty trucks, will improve Southern California’s air quality. These regulatory actions to bring about cleaner air are complemented by unprecedented federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, which together are making historic investments in accelerating the country towards a zero-emission economy, tackling climate change, and creating a more equitable future.
The proposed approval reflects EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s commitment to environmental justice and civil rights -- to make progress in historically overburdened and underserved communities, ensuring fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in developing and implementing environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Read more about the EPA Pacific Southwest Region Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights Implementation Plan and the South Coast AQMD WAIRE Program.