AQMD Pushes Lawn Mowers

Did you know that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is offering residents a “we pay 75% you pay 25%” deal to turn in our old gas-spewing cutters for sleek new non-polluting electric lawn mowers with batteries?

Or, did you know that despite forty years of superb efforts to clean up factory smoke, shipping ports, rail yards, trucking centers, and our own gas-guzzling family vans that clog freeways, the Los Angeles area still sinks to the bottom of the national list of most polluted cities?

On Friday, May 3, 2013, six LWV-PA members and supporters of the Natural Resources Committee were treated, along with other local groups, to a PowerPoint lunch and tour of the impressive South Coast AQMD complex in Diamond Bar. The event was hosted by SCAQMD Board member Michael Cacciotti (Councilmember for South Pasadena and LWV-PA member), senior staff member Stan Myles, and assisted by Rainbow Yeung.

“The SCAQMD is the largest and most sophisticated air quality regulating body in the world,” Cacciotti stated. “It is about being stewards of our resources, trying to reduce both natural and human emissions.” All of us breathe particulates suspended in the haze trapped by the Los Angeles Basin’s funnel-like geographical configuration. Locales like Upland, at the worst time of day (i.e., 2 to 4 p.m.), have the most dismal ratings.

The talk emphasized how challenging it is to supply something as simple as water to South Pasadena residents. “To take a ten-minute shower requires forty gallons of water,” Michael told participants. “That water makes a five-mile uphill journey from San Gabriel to a South Pasadena reservoir and then is pumped on to your shower via underground pipes.” The message was clear: We all could do far more to conserve resources. If a truck or car is seen spewing filthy exhaust, the AQMD encourages drivers to report complaints to 1-800-CUT-SMOG.

The AQMD awards several million dollars in grant funds to researchers with promising ideas for reducing pollutants. Currently, it is funding a project to address one of the worst polluters in our area: huge, off-shore tankers full of unrefined oil and fuel waiting to unload at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Another joint project is with the Siemens Company. This project is designing a system of electric overhead wiring for trucks on a freeway lane, like train systems in Europe.

After passing through a huge laboratory testing air samples all over the LA Basin, our group ended the tour outside at the AQMD’s “science and technology advancement” facility, where every clean air choice of vehicle was on display, parked next to its own battery recharging station. ZEVs (zero emission vehicles) like the Ford Focus BEV FWD or Nissan Leaf were on display as were AT-PZEVs (advanced technology partial zero-emission vehicles) like the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius, or Lincoln MKZ, all hybrid gasoline-electric models. PZEVs (partial zero-emission vehicles) were also on display, such as the Audi A3, BMW’s 328ix Drive, and models by Buick, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, and Honda. For anyone considering buying a car, a visit to the AQMD will provide that consumer with a plethora of sound information.

Attending the tour were LWV-PA members Kathy Berlin, Fran Blackwell, Sondra Hauge, Marilynne Kennedy, Julie Parker, and Felicia Williams.


—Julie Parker