SACRAMENTO – As part of the state’s ongoing commitment to clean the air in communities most impacted by pollution, today the California Air Resources Board announced the selection of four communities for a new program to monitor air quality near oil and gas extraction facilities.
It is well known that short and long-term exposure to air pollutants can contribute to negative health outcomes, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and in some cases, cancer. Limited information exists, however, on how oil and gas extraction facilities affect air quality in neighboring communities.
The Study of Neighborhood Air near Petroleum Sources (SNAPS) program was established to help fill the gap using a focused community-level approach. The selected communities will host mobile air monitoring units to identify and measure pollutants of concern over several months to help inform efforts to protect public health from environmental hazards.
“Many Californians live in communities near oil and gas facilities – but we know very little about the impact of these facilities on their neighbors’ health,” said Chair Mary D. Nichols. “We need up-to-date information to assess whether existing standards and regulations are effective, and to lay the groundwork for any needed improvements.”
Discussions on the SNAPS program started in November 2017 when CARB began holding public workshops, community meetings and tours of neighborhoods near oil and gas facilities. The process resulted in 56 candidate communities that were evaluated using eight metrics including CalEnviroScreen score, air pollution levels, density of oil and gas wells and community engagement, among others.
The four selected communities are located in the historic oil regions of the south San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles County:
- Lost Hills, Lost Hills Oil Field, Kern County
- Baldwin Hills, Inglewood Oil Field, Los Angeles County
- McKittrick and Derby Acres, McKittrick Oil Field and Midway-Sunset Oil Field, Kern County
- South Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Oil Field, Los Angeles County
These communities are diverse in size and population, reflecting many other oil and gas communities around the state. The study involves a 3-4 month monitoring campaign in each area including air monitoring trailer installation and community meetings to gather ideas, hear concerns, foster ongoing feedback, communicate results and discuss solutions.
“CARB recently adopted more stringent regulations requiring enhanced inspection of oil and gas operations including pump jacks. The rules require the use of technologies including chemical sniffers to better pinpoint and repair any leaks that are identified,” said Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “The SNAPS program will complement the regulation to better ensure oil and gas operations that impact nearby communities are identified and addressed.”
SNAPS also complements the Community Air Protection Program (CAPP) under AB 617 by providing additional capacity to evaluate the effects of oil and gas facilities in particular. AB 617 requires CARB to select communities heavily impacted by air pollution for focused actions including setting up community air pollution monitoring systems, developing emissions reductions plans, or both. On September 27, the CARB Board will consider approving staff’s first ten community recommendations pursuant to AB 617. Together, the two efforts will provide focused, community-level action in fourteen of the state’s most polluted areas.
CARB selects Los Angeles and Kern County communities for in-depth study of air quality impacts near oil and gas facilities, Press Release, California Air Resources Board, September 7, 2018.