View from Red Mountain on Tuesday
Sunny skies and scattered in May 2020 view of North County from Red Mountain in Fallbrook. Courtesy HPWREN network

San Diego County’s Air Pollution Control District selected projects from 49 organizations Wednesday to receive $21.3 million in grants for projects designed to keep 692 tons of greenhouse gas and pollution out of the skies.

The grants, part of the county’s Clean Air for All campaign, will reimburse the selected businesses, local governments, schools and utilities for swapping out high-polluting, heavy-duty equipment for low-polluting or zero-polluting vehicles, boats and machinery.

The district has notified all the organizations that their projects have been selected to receive the grants funded by California’s Air Resources Board and Department of Motor Vehicles.

All the organizations must sign contracts to start their projects; seven of the projects must still receive final approval from the California Air Resources Board. The organizations are reimbursed once their projects are completed.

District officials estimate that if all 138 selected projects are completed they would improve local air quality over their lifetime by preventing the emission of 562.5 tons of nitrogen engine emissions, 103.5 tons of reactive organic gases that affect ozone production and 26.1 tons of diesel particulate matter — small particles of carbon like soot. All told, the weight is roughly equal to six space shuttles.

The majority of the grant money, roughly $14.3 million, is targeted to help the county’s portside environmental justice neighborhood communities and projects from other state-designated disadvantaged communities. Those include the portside communities of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and western National City as well as El Cajon and San Ysidro.

The state Air Resources Board selected those portside neighborhoods as part of its Community Air Protection Program. That program provides special funding for neighborhoods that are disproportionately harmed by air pollution because they’re near ports, shipping, freeways, rail yards, freight, warehouses and industries.

The board created its program in response to California’s 2017 passage of Assembly Bill 617, which aimed to help local communities threatened the most by air pollution.

Some of the selected portside and disadvantaged communities’ projects include truck, school bus, port equipment and marine replacements.

The remaining money comes from a mixture of state air quality improvement funds and will primarily be spent to upgrade off-road vehicles, agricultural equipment and marine equipment for 36 organizations.

— City News Service