Sacramento Region Set to Meet Federal Health-Based Air Quality Standard Two Years Before the Deadline


In November, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the Sacramento region’s Ozone Plan, which demonstrates that the region will meet the current federal standard for ozone air pollution two years ahead of schedule, or by July 20, 2025.

“Not only will the region achieve better air quality, the goal is being met two years earlier than required, and with no new proposed restrictions on businesses and residents,” said Jennifer Finton, Clean Air Policy Manager for Breathe California Sacramento Region, who testified in support of the Plan.

Air quality has improved substantially in the region, primarily due to emission reductions from mobile sources, primarily cars and trucks, which generate over 75 percent of the region’s ozone, or smog. When residents decide to use alternative transportation such as walking, biking, transit or car sharing, the amount of pollutants emitted decreases. These steps, along with engines burning cleaner overall, contribute to the air quality improvement the region has been seeing for the past decade.

“Today is a remarkable day for air quality progress in the Sacramento region,” Board member and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said. “This achievement is the product of effective partnerships and strong state controls on air pollution from cars and trucks.”

The Ozone Plan reflects ongoing regional reductions in ozone pollution, which can damage lung tissue and lead to decreased lung function. Highlights of the region’s successes:

  • Between 2000 and 2016, the number of days the region exceeded the standard was reduced by 42 percent, despite growth in the region’s population and traffic.
  • During that same time period, the population grew by 25 percent and vehicle miles traveled by 36 percent.
  • At the same time, NOx emissions were reduced by 61 percent, almost all from cars and trucks. NOx emissions are expected to be cut in half between now and the attainment year.

With this unusual achievement of meeting ozone standards well in advance of federal regulatory deadlines, the Sacramento region now serves as a model for other local air basins similarly dedicated to reducing harmful ozone levels. Initiatives such as the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District’s Spare the Air program, which encourages commuters to walk, bike or take transit during summer months, along with Sacramento’s recent designation as California’s first “Green City” awardee under the terms of the Volkswagen diesel cheating settlement, will significantly advance the deployment of cleaner cars and further exemplifies a regional intent to meet even stricter ozone attainment goals.

While we reflect on this cooperative accomplishment, it is not a time to jump back into single-occupant vehicles. More air quality improvements are needed to help keep our most vulnerable populations breathing easily. The next hurdle will be to meet an expected stricter federal standard, reducing ozone pollution even more. To do your part to make the region a healthy place to live and breathe, help us by committing to a clean air strategy and spread the word. #mycleanairpledge