Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District Public Hearing June 17 for Proposed Smoke Management Permit Fee

by Cate Moore on June 7, 2015

There will be a public hearing prior to rule adoption for the Smoke Management Permit Fee Rule 311 on:

June 17, 2015 – 1:30 P.M.
Location: 24580 Silver Cloud Court, 3rd Floor, Monterey, California

The proposed fee structure is:

Fee Category                                      Permit Size                                                    Permit Fee
Agricultural Burning- Brush Piles      Piles with greater than 100 tons of                    $150
vegetation or 1 ton or particulate matter
Agricultural/Prescribed Burning        10-100 acres                                                           $150
Agricultural/Prescribed Burning        100-250 acres                                                        $800
Agricultural/Prescribed Burning        250-1000 acres                                                     $1200
Agricultural/Prescribed Burning        More than 1000 acres                                          $2200


The deadline for written comments has passed, but interested parties are invited to attend and participate at the hearings.

Amy Clymo
Supervising Air Quality Planner
Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District
24580 Silver Cloud Court, Monterey, California, 93940
Ph: (831) 647-9418 x227
Fx:  (831) 647-8501

Several interests are lining up to oppose this fee proposal, including ranchers, farmers, restoration ecologists and several fire districts.  Particularly objectionable is the stepped nature of the Agricultural/Prescribed Burn fees.  We do not see anything to justify charging $150 for a 99 acre burn and $800 for a 101 acre burn.  The resources the Air District must commit to either burn are essentially equivalent.

Beyond the fee structure itself is the broader issue of whether this is truly good for the community or the environment.  Evidence has been building for years that much of the underlying cause for the decline of California’s native ecosystems is a lack of low-intensity fire on the landscape.  Fire is needed to rejuvenate the soil, scarify seeds to encourage germination, reduce insect and fungal pathogens and reduce the vegetation overstocking that is contributing to our escalating fire hazard and tapping out our ground water.    As land managers, we have a duty to ensure that our land is not a hazard to our neighbors and wildfire is a major concern.  Thinning our forests and building fuel breaks generates a tremendous amount of woody debris on a continual basis that must be disposed of in some manner.  Agricultural burns and prescribed fires do this in a very cost-effective manner that allows land managers to burn on those days that the smoke impacts can be minimized.  This is far preferable to letting nature choose the time and the place; we have all suffered through the tremendous smoke impacts that occur when a big wildfire burns everything it can reach under uncontrollable conditions. None of this is on the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District’s radar.  The Air District cannot see beyond the smoke they can regulate and the fees they hope will keep their staff funded.

CCFA will send a representative to the meeting and we will report on the results afterward.

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