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Cleaner Air Partnership (CAP)

The Cleaner Air Partnership (CAP) is a unique public-private partnership across business, transportation, health, local government and the environment that is committed to protecting health, promoting economic growth, and supporting equity by ensuring the region meets clean air standards.

In support of its mission, the Cleaner Air Partnership undertakes:

  • Fact-finding
  • Public education
  • Policy and advocacy work at the local, state and federal levels on behalf of air quality priorities of the region
  • Facilitation and building agreement
  • Support for air-friendly smart-growth principles and their local implementation
  • Support for targeted research activities

Stay up-to-date on air quality in the Sacramento region with the monthly CAP email newsletter: Subscribe to the Cleaner Air News.

Our geographic focus includes Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Yuba, Sutter and part of Solano counties, and the large air basin that they share.

The work of CAP generally centers on programs that help minimize smog-forming emissions from mobile sources, such as cars and trucks, which are the dominant source of the capital region’s air pollution. CAP supports an incentive-based approach that rewards cooperation, innovation and proactive efforts. CAP is focused on reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are one of the two major ingredients of ground-level ozone or smog. Simultaneously, reductions in ozone pollution and NOx also help to reduce two other major kinds of air pollution in our region: PM 2.5, small particles (soot), and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are all linked to climate change. Learn more about past and current air quality in our region at Spare the Air.

Learn about the history of the Cleaner Air Partnership below:

Our region is one of America’s most polluted metropolitan areas, and that means negative health impacts for all of us. Our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities are hit especially hard, since prolonged exposure to high air pollution may cause severe health issues such as respiratory illness, lung and heart stress, and damaged respiratory cells. We’ve made great progress cleaning our air. As more people move to the area and our national air quality standards change, so do the challenges for our region’s air quality advocates, businesses and residents.

Learn about the impacts of poor air quality to public health and economic growth:

Health Impacts

While we’ve made great progress cleaning our air, health impacts linked to air pollution – such as asthma – are still dramatic here. Our region does not meet federal standards for ozone – let alone tougher state standards – and is not expected to meet them for tiny, lung-damaging particles or soot.

Here are some facts to consider about the consequences of air pollution:

  • According to the American Lung Association, the Sacramento-Roseville metropolitan area ranked #9 for high ozone days out of 226 metropolitan areas across the U.S. in 2022. 
  • 3 out of 8 Americans live in counties with F grades for ozone smog. In the region, Sacramento, Sutter, El Dorado and Placer Counties all have F grades, and there is no monitor collecting data in Yuba. County. (American Lung Association). 
  • Between 2015 - 2016, more than 160,000 children and teens from the ages of 1 - 17 were diagnosed with asthma in Sacramento County.
  • In 2019, more than 150,000 adults in Sacramento County, were diagnosed with asthma.

For more information on the health impacts of air pollution, please review our FAQ’s below.

Business Impacts

Clean air is good for business. In fact, in the Sacramento Region, it is crucial.

There are direct and indirect economic consequences for our region’s 61,000-plus businesses when we fail to meet tightening federal and state air quality standards:

Lost or delayed transportation funding for movement of employees and goods:
Under the Clean Air Act, the federal government can delay or withhold transportation funding for communities that fail to meet air quality standards. It happens when local plans for roads and transit don’t support plans to improve local air quality – a complex, ever-changing relationship known as “conformity” in bureaucratic jargon. Failure means a “lapse” in conformity – and delayed or lost funding.

It’s not an idle threat. When Atlanta failed to clean its air, the city suffered a two-year lapse that limited its ability to use federal funds for both transit and highways. The city was reportedly ineligible for as much as $153 million a year during the violations.

The EPA strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standard in December 2012, and will continue to pressure states and municipalities to adopt forward-looking air quality policies. The federal government will have several more opportunities in coming years to influence whether and how we use our federal transportation money:

  • Our region's transportation plans will have to mesh with new air quality plans designed to meet stricter federal ozone standards;
  • Tighter new federal standards for lung-damaging soot will prompt another examination of air and transport plans by the end of the decade;
  • Federal regulators also check transportation and air quality plans every three years to review changes in the way we measure auto and truck emissions.


Reduced ability to attract and retain talented workers:
Cleaner air helps improve our region’s overall quality of life, which is a major factor in decisions by companies, innovators and talented workers about where to work and live. Imagine trying to attract a promising college grad, manager, investor or new business with the haze of a smoggy summer day as the backdrop.

Reduced ability to accommodate large, job-generating businesses:
When we don’t meet clean-air standards, we can lose capacity to accommodate large, job-creating businesses and industries. A new factory or power plant in a community that is struggling to meet air quality standards may produce too many emissions and be forced to operate at only partial capacity – or worse, be held up in the permitting process.

Although cars and trucks make up at least 70% of our region’s air pollution problem, influencing driving habits and other personal behaviors can be a big challenge with results that are difficult to quantify. Stationary sources become attractive targets.

More fees and regulations for businesses:
New air pollution standards and population growth can make our level of disconnect with federal ozone standards more severe, prompting the specter of more fees and regulations for businesses.

Reduced employee health and productivity:
Bad air means more illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. That means more sick days, higher health costs, unhappier employees and less productivity. About 2.8 million lost workdays each year are related to air pollution exposure in California, according to the California Air Resources Board. Asthma is the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness and lost workdays, according to Breathe California.

CAP Contributors

The Cleaner Air Partnership’s contributors include businesses, environmental organizations, public health nonprofits, and governmental agencies from both the public and private sectors:

For more information about becoming a financial supporter, please contact Adrian Rehn.
CAP Chair - John Lane

John Lane has worked in the environmental and air quality fields for more than 30 years, with the last 20 years at A. Teichert & Son, Inc. Teichert is a 135-year-old family run business and is the oldest construction and construction materials company in California and holds Contractor License #8. John leads Teichert’s environmental Team and plays a role in Teichert’s local, state, and federal land use entitlements.  John also serves Teichert’s Sustainability Lead. John currently serves on the board of directors for the Sacramento Tree Foundation whose mission, in part, is to improve air quality and community health of the region through thoughtful support of our internationally recognized urban forest. John is an active member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, serves on the City of Folsom’s Historic District Commission and represents the region’s air quality and land use initiatives on the annual Capitol-to-Capitol advocacy trip to Washington D.C.

CAP Agenda & Accomplishments

The Sacramento Region has reduced unhealthy air days by two-thirds since 1979 through tougher smog checks and emissions standards, cleaner burning gasoline and stricter standards on stationary sources such as auto refinishing shops, manufacturing plants and gas stations.

Private companies and public agencies have also joined the effort – voluntarily adding pollution controls and switching their heavy-duty vehicles to cleaner-burning fuels such as compressed natural gas. Financial incentives often help cover their costs and lead businesses to adopt clean-air measures before regulations require them. And we’ve begun thinking about how to grow smarter by putting jobs, homes and services closer together.

Here are CAP’s main priority work areas for the coming years:

CAP Strategic Agenda

Promote air-friendly planning for growth
Our air-friendly growth advocacy focuses on three long-term regional plans which have huge air quality implications for our region:

Sacramento Regional 8-Hour Ozone Attainment and Reasonable Further Progress Plan (SIP) – The Cleaner Air Partnership is supportive of the SIP implementation, which will reduce emissions at the required rate of 3% per year and help us reach the 8-Hour Ozone standard by 2018. This SIP, after two years in development, was approved in 2009 by air quality officials in the El Dorado, Feather River, Placer County, Sacramento Metropolitan and Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management Districts. It was revised in September 2013.

Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) – The MTP dictates how we spend $30 billion on roads, transit and other transportation in the next two decades – a huge issue in a region where 70% of air pollution comes from mobile sources. To retain our federal transportation funding, the transportation choices in the updated MTP will also have to support actions in the SIP that shows how we’ll meet stricter national health standards for ozone pollution. An air-friendly transportation plan is crucial – as is an air quality plan that recognizes and respects our regional economy.

Regional Blueprint smart-growth land-use plan (Regional Blueprint) – Our region has already recognized the challenge of integrated planning – and responded by creating a proactive growth plan that also helps our air quality. The Regional Blueprint plan reduces per-household driving by moving jobs, homes and services closer together during growth. Regional officials are using the Blueprint plan and its growth map as the starting basis for our new transportation plan. The Cleaner Air Partnership encourages communities to uphold Blueprint principles during their own planning as well.

Support incentives for pollution controls
Financial incentives can help reduce the regulatory impact on businesses and prompt a shift to cleaner technology sooner than the law requires. The local SECAT program and state Carl Moyer program are two such incentive programs here.

Expand and support regional membership
The part of our region that does not meet federal ozone standards includes portions of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. Regional input and assistance are crucial to create and enforce clean-air policies that protect both the economy and the environment.

Public education and communication
New information on health impacts helps drive stricter air pollution regulations all the time. Fortunately, there’s plenty that both citizens and businesses can do to be proactive and help themselves.

Air friendly freight and goods movement
Movement of goods through California ports is expected to more than double in coming years – and Sacramento is at the crossroads of the state’s goods-movement picture.

Interstate 5 and State Route 99 serve major north-south movement and Interstate 80 is a crucial east-west corridor serving the Bay Area and Port of Oakland. Our region is home to one of the West’s largest rail yards in Roseville, the Port of Sacramento and to the Mather Cargo Airport.

Growth in goods movement means more trucks, trains and planes moving through our region, potentially more economic opportunity – and more pollution to offset. We’re tracking and commenting on studies and plans for goods movement that are progressing this year at both the state level and the local level.

Maximize efficient road and transit use
Increased transit ridership and more efficient use of existing roads via carpooling and other measures helps improve our air quality – and can help save money on new infrastructure as well.

Here are some highlights of CAP’s clean air innovation and action:

Smarter Growth

Nearly every jurisdiction in our six-county region endorsed SACOG’s Regional Blueprint smart-growth planning project, which reduces per-household vehicle miles traveled in the face of heavy population growth. SACOG is using the Blueprint smart-growth map as the basis of its new $30 billion, 28-year transportation investment plan. Meanwhile, Caltrans is using the project as a statewide model for smart-growth land use – and offering grants to prompt similar efforts elsewhere.

Tougher Smog Check

The Partnership lobbied hard for enhanced Smog Check in the Bay Area, helping to ease the Bay Area’s air quality burden on Sacramento. Statewide, we also supported adding a much-needed visual smoke check to the smog test that will help reduce particle and soot pollution. And we pushed the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair to speed up its efforts to test for evaporative emissions, such as vapors from leaky fuel systems.

Financial incentives for pollution control

The Partnership supports and promotes financial incentive programs such as the groundbreaking local SECAT program and the state’s Carl Moyer program, which offer incentives to diesel vehicle owners to retrofit, upgrade or purchase cleaner technologies. The Sacramento region has previously led California in certain kinds of diesel retrofits, and state officials recently applauded the Sacramento Metro Air District for astute management of Moyer funds.

Widespread use of low-emissions vehicles

Sacramento Regional Transit replaced its buses with compressed natural gas (CNG), and many local school buses run on CNG or have retrofitted diesels. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District helped our region achieve readiness for electric vehicles, is testing a CNG station and is one of many local agencies to boast fleet emission reduction programs. Raley’s Foods has run LNG trucks and companies like Sacramento Coca-Cola bottling, Taylor Heavy Hauling and General Produce have replaced older trucks. Many UPS and Supershuttle vans here run on CNG.

Innovative solutions for unique problems

The Placer County Air Pollution Control District and Union Pacific Railroad tested an innovative technology to capture and treat emissions from diesel locomotives at the West’s largest railyard, the J.R. Davis facility in Roseville. The system used power-plant scrubbers to remove particulate matter and other pollutants. The project followed the state’s first in-depth study on pollution and health conditions, also centered on the Roseville facility.

Air quality in transportation planning

In conjunction with SACOG, the Partnership held a special 2006 forum to gather input from air quality advocates on the Metropolitan Transportation Plan or “MTP,” which shows how our region will spend $30 billion on transportation by 2030.

Climate change leadership

Prior to new statewide greenhouse gas regulations, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District board approved a Sacramento Climate Protection Program and directed the district staff to provide regional leadership and support. The program includes outreach and education, research, legislative advocacy and technical assistance. Sacramento and West Sacramento’s mayors were also among 227 nationwide to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to drop their own greenhouse levels.

Effective public education

To help get a jump on new federal regulations for small particles and soot, our region is expanding the local Spare the Air program to winter for the first time. The program alerts residents to reduce driving during the unhealthiest air days. In a recent survey, nearly a quarter of respondents reported driving less on Spare the Air days, when pollution is at its worst and regulators reach out to residents.

Leading-edge research

The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sacramento Tree Foundation are teaming up to study how planting certain types of trees can help remove pollution and lower temperatures. SACOG is helping fund the effort through a grant. Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails is supporting local research in this and other leading-edge areas through its Health Effects Task Force.

Awards

The Cleaner Air Partnership received the 1998 Governor’s Economic and Environmental Balance Award, Breathe California’s 2003 Clean Air Award, the American Leadership Forum’s 2003 Regional Leadership Award and Breathe California’s 2011 Regional Clean Air Award.

Join Us!

At the Cleaner Air Partnership, we think a little cooperation can go a long way when it comes to preserving the air quality that’s so crucial for the Sacramento region’s future.

Our business-health partnership can also be a source of invaluable context and guidance for your own external affairs activities. 

Get Involved

Attend the Cleaner Air Partnership’s quarterly luncheons:
Our hosted quarterly luncheons feature panel discussions about the latest, most important air quality topics affecting the Sacramento region’s residents and businesses. Hear the air quality story straight from leaders and experts, ask questions, share your thoughts and ideas and gain networking opportunities.

Panelists have included the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, several State Assembly members, CEOs of major business and health organizations, leading-edge researchers, award-winning developers and many others.

Our regular audience includes top leaders and representatives from local government and the regulatory, business, health and environmental communities.

Past CAP Luncheon Meetings:

  • Q3 CAP Luncheon (June 24, 2022) -  Greening our Supply Chain: Opportunities to Lower Emissions Via Corporate Sustainability Programs (Agenda & Recording)
  • Q2 CAP Luncheon (February 25, 2022) - Readying Our Region for Investment: Planning for Federal and State Resources to Improve Mobility, Air Quality & More (Agenda & Recording)

Attend the CAP Technical Advisory Committee (CAPTAC):
This committee meets twice a year to discuss legislative and technical issues in more detail and to capture input from stakeholders in the business, health and regulatory communities. It helps inform the Cleaner Air Partnership’s policy agenda and decisions.

These meetings have a casual, roundtable format and usually feature short presentations and discussions about hot issues, plus regular reports about regulatory and legislative activities. Learn the rationale behind local regulatory and political activities, stay abreast of legislative developments and share your thoughts with policy makers.

Our regular audience includes representatives from local air districts, the state air board, the Metro Chamber and local businesses, Breathe California and other health organizations, planning agencies like Caltrans and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and many others.

Receive the Cleaner Air News newsletter:
The Cleaner Air News is a free, electronic briefing that features the latest news and context about air quality developments affecting our region.

Get the scoop on new laws and regulations and their effects, legislative developments, key opportunities and positive actions as they relate to the Sacramento region’s air quality. Learn what’s happening, why it’s important and what you can do by subscribing to the Cleaner Air News.

Become a financial supporter:
Sponsor a luncheon meeting or event, or pledge to support our work on a year-round or multi-year basis. Demonstrate your public concern and leadership about regional issues, health and the environment.

For questions and arrangements, please contact Adrian Rehn at (707) 813-1913.

Past CAP Meetings

Begin to get involved with Cleaner Air Partnership  by catching up on past CAP meetings listed below:

  • Q3 CAP Luncheon (June 24, 2022) -  Greening our Supply Chain: Opportunities to Lower Emissions Via Corporate Sustainability Programs (Recording)
  • Q2 CAP Luncheon (February 25, 2022) - Readying Our Region for Investment: Planning for Federal and State Resources to Improve Mobility, Air Quality & More (Recording)

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