Nicole Vogelpohl and Eva Luu attended the “Meet the Regulators” event hosted by A&WMA’s Golden West Chapter at the law firm Holland & Knight in San Francisco. It was an informative event where panelists Dr. Meredith Bauer, Hy Hinojosa, and Lisa Fasano, in for Viet Tran, from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), spoke about upcoming priorities, new organizational changes, current organizational issues, and project accomplishments. The three have recently been appointed new deputy executive officer positions at BAAQMD. They are open to taking things in a new direction regarding the permit process, communications with the public, and implementing new and upcoming methodologies for emerging analytical measurement technologies.
Environmental Justice and Air Quality
The panel discussed how, as we’ve learned and made continuous progress in air quality and local emissions reductions over the years, ozone (O3) is now less of a concern (for the Bay Area) compared to PM2.5, which now takes higher precedence as a pollutant of concern. Dr. Bauer and Lisa Fasano mentioned that in the grand scheme of things, we live in a region of great air quality; however, they acknowledge that while the greater San Francisco Bay Area has good air quality as a whole, there are always pockets of localized air pollution that need addressing. Areas specifically pointed out were marginalized communities, such as Bayview/Hunter’s Point and West Oakland. Coincidentally, SCS is currently involved in a project related to the SF Fire Department’s Training Facility moving from Treasure Island to Hunter’s Point. The goal is to ensure the air quality during their training burns will not have long-term downwind effects on the community.
Thorough Discussion Amongst the Panelists and Attendees — Permitting Backlog Issue
The current permitting system needs to be faster, and the backlog of processed permit applications poses challenges for new clients. Attendees expressed frustration and shared testimonies about their clients moving to different states due to the extensive permitting backlog and timely process, which has ultimately halted the emersion of some new regulatory technology and projects in the state. The regulators understand the current system needs reworking and prioritizing to ease and reduce the turnover time of the permit process.
Enlightening and Enjoyable
Hearing the regulators speak passionately about their roles, goals, and investment in the organization was truly pleasing. Thanks to Pat Sullivan for knowing and having worked with everyone we talked to; everyone said hi and spoke highly of you! At “Meet the Regulators,” we connected with stakeholders from local consulting firms, attendees from the petroleum, tech, and waste management industries, and regulators – or, as Dr. Bauer renamed the group, the communicators, to help bridge the gap between the governing board and the general public.