Coastal

Commission

Approves

Landmark

Changes

to

The

Oceano

Dunes

SVRA

Coastal Development Permit - OHV Groups File Lawsuits

On March 18 2021 the Coastal Commission conducted a public hearing to review SVRA operations and to consider the recommended CDP changes. At this hearing the Commission staff’s presentation made a compelling case for why off-highway vehicle operations on the dunes cannot be permitted in an area that has been designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA). Almost all of the of the SVRA riding areas are within a designated ESHA, according to the Coastal Act and applicable Local Coastal Plans. By an 10-0 vote, the Commission approved the recommended CDP changes, while also reducing the time- frame for phasing out off-highway vehicle operations on the dunes from the staff recommended five years to three years. At its August 12 meeting, the Commission approved a revised staff report (click here) that incorporates the shorter phase out time-frame. For a summary of the approved CDP changes, click here . Several OHV advocacy groups, including Friends of Oceano Dunes (FoOD), have filed multiple lawsuits aimed at preventing the Commission’s decision to phase out OHV activity from taking effect. On December 17 State Parks and FoOD reached agreement with the Coastal Commission to stay the imposition of three provisions of the revised CDP. This agreement temporarily delays closure of the Pier Avenue entrance, temporarily allows vehicles to cross Arroyo Grande Creek when water depth is less than 12 inches, and temporarily reduces the size of the seasonal Plover Habitat area. This agreement was subsequently approved by the judge hearing the FoOD lawsuits. ============================================================================================

Particulate Matter Exposure Linked to Higher Risk of COVID-19 Death

Harvard University researchers recently published the results of a study ( click here) on the effect of long- term exposure to 2.5 micrometer particulate matter air pollution on the risk of dying from COVID-19 infection. They found that the majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. They concluded that a small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. ============================================================================================

State Parks Funded Study Report Asserts APCD’s Dune Dust Measurements

Exaggerate Health Risk - APCD and Scientific Advisory Group Counter

State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division is sponsoring a multi-year study of the particulate matter emissions from the Oceano Dunes SVRA. The study has been conducted by Professor Lynn M. Russell of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. On November 8, 2021 Professor Russell issued an interim report to State Parks that describes the findings of sampling and analyses conducted in the Spring of 2021. ( See the Scripps report. ) The report asserts that the particulate matter at the CDF monitor on windy days was found to consist of 14% mineral dust on average. Specifically, for May 2021, the mineral dust fraction ranged from 2% to 32% on high-PM10 days. According to the report, “The remaining 82% of the PM10 is likely from atmospheric water, organic components, ammonium, nitrate, non-sea-salt sulfate, and other semi-volatile chemical species.” Based on this thinking, Professor Russell brings into question the validity of the concern that the particulate matter concentrations measured by the Air Pollution Control District’s Cal Fire monitor represents a serious public health risk. Further, because the Scripps study did not find a significant difference between weekday and weekend dune dust concentrations, it concluded that the mineral dust component of the dune dust is natural and not related to off-highway vehicle riding on the dunes. The Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) have each responded with detailed and specific criticisms of the Scripps study methods and conclusions. They point out that the apparatus used and analysis methods used by Scripps study do not conform to EPA guidelines and can produce inaccurate results. The APCD states that its measurements and assessment methods do conform to these guidelines, and that its own analysis of the dune dust are in close agreement with the Cal Fire monitor data. ( See the APCD comments. ) The APCD also clarifies that sand thrown up by vehicle tires and vehicle exhaust fumes are not the primary source of the particulate matter concentrations measured at the CDF monitor, but are the result of the long-term effects of OHV activity. The SAG response states: “In summary, the SAG expresses strong concerns about the accuracy of some of the results and questionable interpretations put forth by the Scripps report, which confound understanding of the mechanisms and sources of PM10 dust emitted from ODSVRA and dispersed to local monitoring stations.” ( See the SAG comments. )

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