Maybe Its Time to Write Your Congressman

8-10-or-12-Pick a Number…

Written By: Marti Russell, Western Sales Manager, EnviroForensics

At a Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) meeting in San Francisco, California, the Bay Area cleaners learned their recent “proposed” fate.  The 8, 10, or 12 numbers are the newly proposed phase out years for dry cleaning machines that use perchloroethylene (Perc).  Never mind the State feels that perc units can operate safely for 15 years.

This idea of giving years for the phase-out is a result of a directive given to the BAAQMD staff, from the BAAQMD Board of Directors, at a Hearing on March 4, 2009.  I believe the Board’s exact words were that they felt there is “an excessive amount of time” between now and July 1, 2010 (the year perc (15+ old units need to stop being used and or need to be replaced in CA) and the year 2023, (the year perc is totally banned in California).  The BAAQMD wants to see a shorter time span for phasing out perc units, so the magic number will either be all 8-year, 10-year, or 12-year-old perc machines that must stop being used in the air shed monitored by the BAAQMD.

Here’s their game plan.  It was stated, and made abundantly clear, that the BAAQMD staffers are only doing what their Board of Directors instructed them to do.  In the dry cleaning ‘workshop’ held on April 1st, the BAAQMD staff told us they had some ‘ideas’, but did not share them.  Instead of working together (hence, the name of a workshop) with the dry cleaning industry to come up with a cohesive plan, the BAAQMD staffers thought up all the ideas, work, and timeframes.  They then presented their plan thru a PowerPoint presentation to the cleaners who showed up on June 10th.   BAAQMD had gotten their data for the presentation from a mailed reporting form to all existing dry cleaners that use perc.  The questionnaire requested information regarding the dry cleaners machine (e.g.  make, model and serial number of their units) and the intention of what cleaners will do with their old, phased-out units.  This reporting form yielded a 50% return for BAAQMD, so another form will be sent out to the perc cleaners who did not respond, with consequences to cleaners who do not fully cooperate.

After the presentation, cleaners were told they could comment on the proposed, accelerated phase-out years in writing to Marc Nash by July 1, 2009.  He will take the comments under consideration, and IF there are no revisions made to the presentation, this presentation is what BAAQMD staffers will give to the Steering Source Committee Chair, John Gioja from Contra Costa, and his committee in the Monday morning, July 20th agenda. THEN, and only then, will the cleaners have their opportunity to present their objections or comments.

If the perc ban is accelerated, how will cleaners qualify for new equipment or loans?   Will cleaners be able to get lending from banks?  Forget about cleaners’ drawing equity out of their home to buy equipment; this is California and most of us realize a diminished property valuation.  There are no California State or local programs available to assist cleaners in purchasing new equipment.