Local Agency votes to adopt the nation’s first zero-emission standards for a stationary source: Commercial Ovens Rule PASSED

  • Posted on 8 September 2023
  • By Kim Orbe, Senior Conservation Program Manager

The intensity of California's heat & smog makes it more crucial than ever to #ElectrifyEverything

The Sierra Club is deeply committed to ending the use and our dependence on oil, decarbonizing our buildings, and electrifying all sectors. The Angeles Chapter has successfully worked to get cities and counties to pass building electrification ordinances, and we also engage in a large agency that is least spoken about. The South Coast Air Quality Management (SCAQMD), is an agency that is tasked with the responsibility to improve air quality and public health by regulating sources of pollution. The SCAQMD covers 95% of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, & San Bernadino County populations. That is about 17 million people and affects 163 cities & unincorporated counties! 
By now, you have probably heard about the harm that gas and gas appliances such as our stoves cause us and how they pollute the air in our homes. Because the SCAQMD covers a large geographic region, we have engaged and supported a strong adoption of the 2022 Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) which calls for zero-emission appliances wherever feasible. This was a huge opportunity to address the unacceptable appliance pollution where we live, play, work, and shop in the South Coast Region through its rules (regulations). Food & beverage manufacturing is the second-biggest industrial source of gas use after refineries, so supporting a rule that would require electrification of these sources was something we were excited about.
What is the Rule? 
Rule 1153.1, also referred to as the South Coast Commercial Oven Rule, requires technology to shift from old polluting gas-burning machinery to healthy electric equipment where technology already exists or could be developed with some market signals. This rule covers 97 facilities that operate approximately 224 commercial food ovens in the South Coast Air Basin. These are very large ovens used to produce baked and roasting goods (rolls, crackers, muffins, chips, nuts, coffee etc.) at many large companies like Frito-Lay, and Bimbo Bakeries. The decision to pass this commercial ovens rule is a large win as it is the nation’s first zero-emission standard for these stationary sources of pollution. 
Graphic: California needs emission-free beer, wine & baked goods
Although not perfect as this rule will continue to allow combustion for a large subset of the equipment covered under the rule, we continue to encourage the Air District to push the conversion of this equipment to zero emissions through incentives and other strategies to eliminate pollution for these sources. Addressing this source of emissions is critical to reducing harmful air and climate pollution. We need to take advantage of ALL the opportunities to clean our air. This is the first industrial sector rule that will have zero-emission standards in the nation. Not the last, just the beginning.
What’s Next?
The next opportunity is the South Coast AQMD rule to move large water heaters and boilers in multifamily and commercial buildings to zero-emission. Rule 1146.2 is already underway and it covers NOx from commercial water heaters and boilers. We are advocating for all of the furnace and water heater rules for adoption in 2024 as the severe pollution burden from fossil fuel appliances demands rapid and robust action from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
NOT Fun Facts about gas in our buildings:
  • Fossil fuel use in our homes & businesses releases over 9 times more NOx & 4 times more PM2.5 than all power plants in the region combined! 
  • Residential appliances alone emit more NOx than oil and gas production, refining, & cement manufacturing combined. (Data: EPA, 2020 National Emissions Inventory)
  • Fossil fuel appliance pollution caused 500+ premature deaths in CA in 2017
  • This leads to health impacts like respiratory issues
  • People of color are exposed to more pollution from residential gas appliances in California
To learn more about ways to get involved and support our electrification work, you can email the Chapter Conservation Program Manager at kim.orbe@sierraclub.org. If you are interested in learning more about how you can electrify your home, visit the switchison.org and more on rebates and incentives here.
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