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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM)

The Problem

Although air quality in the Los Angeles area has improved greatly in recent years, continued emission reductions are needed to meet federal and state clean air standards.

The Solution

The Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program was designed by California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to achieve equivalent or better air pollution reductions to protect public health, when compared to the traditional regulatory program. Initiated in 1993, it is a market incentive program which allows facilities to determine for themselves the most cost effective approach, including emissions trading, to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and oxides of sulfur (SOx), two major sources of air pollution in the Los Angeles area.

RECLAIM was the first regional air pollution emission trading program in the nation and the first approved by EPA. Under RECLAIM, a facility with an air emissions permit can use the most cost effective strategy to meet its emission reduction obligations. For example, facilities can achieve their reductions through a variety of ways that were previously not allowable such as using add-on controls, implementing process improvements, or by purchasing lower cost emission reduction credits from another facility. This added flexibility allows facilities the opportunity to reduce emissions at significantly lower costs, and to trade emission allocations in a free market setting. Currently, the RECLAIM program includes approximately 370 facilities from various industrial sectors, including oil refineries, power plants, aerospace companies, asphalt batch plants, chemical plants, cement plants, and many more. More recently, the SCAQMD and EPA have worked together to develop significant amendments to RECLAIM designed to stabilize NOx trading credit prices and address California energy and environmental issues relating to the need for increased electrical power generation in the Los Angeles area. These amendments are designed to expedite installation of emissions control equipment at power plants and facilitate the introduction of a new electricity supply.

The Results

To date, according to the Air District's annual reports, the major benefit of RECLAIM is that air quality goals necessary to protect public health and the environment are met in a more cost-effective manner. It is also expected that the RECLAIM program will reduce 80 tons of NOx emissions per day and 14 tons of SOx emissions per day by July 1, 2004. These emission reductions will be achieved with little or no adverse impact on jobs or production costs. Finally, the monitoring of compliance with a facility's annual emission allocation will be achieved through improved air monitoring, which will result in a better understanding of emissions and air quality.


For more information, contact Pang Mueller at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, (909) 396-2433, pmueller@aqmd.gov or Tom Canaday at EPA, (415) 947-4121, canaday.tom@epa.gov.

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