Eric Risberg/AP File photoA resolution approved by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board aims to reduce emissions from refineries in the region

Air-quality district approves resolution to further reduce emissions from Bay Area refineries

San Francisco's air is on track to become even cleaner.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday that aims to reduce refinery emissions in the region by 20 percent. But an association that represents West Coast refineries said the resolution is premature because steps are already being taken to ensure cleaner air.

The resolution calls for the air district to develop a strategy to further reduce refinery emissions from the Bay Area's five major oil refineries, which are already subject to 21 air district regulations and programs to help steadily decrease emissions.

The air district will recommend its strategy by December. The plan is ultimately intended to establish a set of rules designed to reduce refinery emissions, which are expected to be adopted by the end of 2015.

“The air district has taken another bold step to protect public health in the Bay Area,” Jack Broadbent, the district's executive officer, said in a statement. “We are confident that working in cooperation with the public and the refineries we can continue to achieve groundbreaking initiatives to reduce pollution and improve air quality.”

Per the resolution, the air district will also continue to prepare its Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking rule that will require updated health risk assessments and add further monitoring capacity, as well as the compilation of an annual emission inventory.

But Guy Bjerke, manager of the Bay Area region of the Western States Petroleum Association that represents California's refineries, said the association has been working on the tracking rule with the air district for more than a year, which will allow scientific data to facilitate reducing emissions.

“You need to get the data and science correct first,” Bjerke said. “We'd be perfectly willing to talk about emissions reductions if they're based on science and not on speculation.”

The Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Area chapter, however, called the resolution an “important step” toward reducing greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions in the region.

“For too long, the Bay Area's five oil refineries have been polluting our air and water and pouring money into local politics to ensure they can continue these dirty, harmful practices,” Jess Dervin-Ackerman, lead organizer at the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, said in a statement. “Communities here in the Bay Area and around the world are rising up and demanding bold and immediate action to combat climate disruption.”

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