A: “Western Nevada County” is the portion of Nevada County west of Donner Summit. The “Truckee Area” is the portion of Nevada County east of Donner Summit. “Sierra County” is the entire County of Sierra. “Quincy Area” is the area defined by the Quincy Fire Protection District outer boundary (“islands” within the outer boundary that are not part of the Quincy Fire Protection District are considered parts of the Quincy Area for burn day status). Burning is prohibited in downtown Quincy and East Quincy. For more information on the Quincy Area, see the special section below. “Plumas County (except Quincy Area)” is all of Plumas County except the area within the boundary of the Quincy Fire Protection District.
A: The primary responsibility for a Burn Day decision resides with 2 agencies: the California Air Resources Board and CalFire. The local Air District has the final say on the burn day status, but considers input from all relevant sources and agencies and will defer to the agency that calls for a No Burn Day. The primary factors considered in a decision are fire danger, air quality and atmospheric dispersion characteristics.
A: If you live in western Nevada County and don’t know where to get a burn permit, check our Burn Permit info sheet for the fire station closest to you. If you live in eastern Nevada County call the Truckee Fire Department at (530) 582-7850 for info on obtaining a burn permit. If you live in Sierra or Plumas county either contact the Northern Air District Office or the local fire agency. Most US Forest Service offices in Plumas County issue burn permits.
A: Check our Annual Burn Day Statistics (.pdf) page.
A: Learn about it in this article.
A: In 1991, when the air quality in the American Valley was very poor during the winter months, the Air District adopted Rule 318. This rule established burning restrictions within the outer boundary of the Quincy Fire Protection District. Since the adoption of Rule 318, the air quality in the American Valley has improved dramatically, primarily because of Rule 318 and a woodstove replacement regulation adopted by the Plumas County Board of Supervisors.
A: There are a couple of easy ways to figure that out. First, take a look at both sides of the map of the area regulated by Rule 318. There is a front side and a back side. If you live near the edges of the shaded regions and you are not sure if you live within the regulated area, then check your address against this street index. If your address is one of the addresses listed on this index, then you are covered by Rule 318 and burning restrictions shall apply.
A: Rule 318 prohibits all residential open burning in Quincy and East Quincy every day, throughout the year. However, if you live in the “green area” (see the back side of the map) then Rule 318 prohibits all residential open burning between November 15 and March 15 of each year.
A: There are two exemptions. The first is an exemption for agricultural burns. All agricultural burns require a permit issued by the Air District. To see if you qualify for that exemption, please call the Air District at 274-9360 or 832-0102. The second exemption is somewhat irregular. Rule 318 allows for at least 15 days of burning before the November 15 cutoff. If for some reason there are not 15 burn days before the cutoff, then the cutoff date is extended until such time as 15 burn days are realized. The only way to know if that exemption is in place is to call the burn recorder at 283-3602 or check the burn day status on this web site.
A: Most of Nevada County’s ozone is transported by wind from the Sacramento and Bay Areas. Ozone is formed by volatile compounds (VOC or ROG) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) reacting in sunlight, especially on hot days. Ozone is an unstable 3-oxygen molecule that oxidizes substances it contacts. High ozone levels reduce the elasticity of our lungs and cause breathing problems, burning eyes, sore throats and headaches. It has been connected with the development of asthma and decreased lung function. Children, the elderly, individuals with heart and lung ailments, and people exercising outdoors are especially affected. Ozone also damages rubber, paint, plastics and plants, reducing vegetable yields and timber productivity. Nearly half of California’s ozone is from car and truck exhaust. The rest is from power production, off-road equipment, industry, consumer products, vegetation and other sources.
A: Federal law establishes health-based ozone standards. Failing to meet those standards results in an area being designated as “non-attainment.” In 2004, Western Nevada County (west of a line near Soda Springs) was designated non-attainment for the federal 8-hour Ozone Standard of 0.08 ppm.
A: The Federal Clean Air Act sets requirements for non-attainment areas. Western Nevada County must prepare an Attainment Plan that meets these requirements and shows how ozone levels will be lowered to meet the standards as expeditiously as practicable. Over the past year, the District adopted all applicable “reasonably available control technologies.” Major air pollution sources are subject to an emission offset program, and federally funded projects such as highway improvements must be shown to not make the problem worse. Another requirement is that Western Nevada County must reduce its emissions of ozone precursors by at least 3% per year. Most necessary reductions are expected from Statewide measures and from cars becoming cleaner. Additional requirements vary depending on an area’s classification, which is tied to a demonstration that the standard can be met by a specific year.
A: Western Nevada County was originally classified by EPA as a Basic non-attainment area. A recent court ruling discarded this classification, so EPA must reclassify such areas. Western Nevada County’s new classification will depend on EPA’s process and on how fast the Sacramento Area can reduce emissions. Also, EPA has proposed a more stringent standard, based on health data, to be finalized in 2008.
A: Several things could happen, depending on which requirements are not met. EPA might not allow any major sources to be constructed; pollution offsets could jump to a ratio of at least 2:1; federal highway money could be withheld; additional pollution control measures could be mandated; and/or EPA could specify additional requirements. The County could also become vulnerable to lawsuits.
A: The Bay Area is not allowed to relax pollution control strategies, and the Sacramento area has to reduce emissions by 3% per year.
A: Here are some external links to help you find more information.
A: If you own or operate a diesel-fueled engine that is rated greater than 50 horsepower and does not propel a vehicle, you are required to obtain a district permit or registration to operate legally in California. The State Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP) allows diesel engines that meet certification requirements to register in the program. Once a diesel engine has obtained a PERP registration, that diesel engine can operate in any of the 35 air districts in California without having to obtain a district permit. The Air District recommends obtaining a PERP registration in lieu of a district permit when possible; however, if a diesel engine operates in one location for more than twelve continuous months then an Air District permit is required.
A: All diesel engines having brake horsepower ratings of 50 or more that operate within Nevada, Sierra or Plumas Counties must be either permitted by the District, or if it is a portable engine, residing at any one location for less than 12 months, then it may be registered by the State in the Portable Equipment Registration Program in lieu of obtaining a District permit. The engine must comply with District regulations, including meeting requirements for having Best Available Control Technology (BACT).
If the gasoline, natural gas or propane fueled engine falls below the Air District’s minimum emission limits, then it is most unlikely that a permit will be necessary.
A: Any engine having a brake horsepower rating of 50 horsepower (HP) or more that does not provide motive power to a vehicle is required to have a permit from the District, or if the engine is portable it may instead have a Statewide PERP registration, issued by the California Air Resources Board. Portable engines include, but are not limited to, internal combustion engines used in the following: cranes, power generation, pumps, diesel pile-driving hammers, welding service or work-over rigs, well drilling, dredges on boats or barges, wood chippers, tactical support equipment, compressors, vacuum trucks, concrete pumpers, street sweepers, etc. etc.
A: In addition to engines, any ancillary equipment that emits pollutants to the air exceeding 2 pounds per day should also be registered under the State-wide program; otherwise a separate District permit is required for operations within the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (NSAQMD). Portable equipment units include, but are not limited to, the following portable engine-associated units: confined and unconfined abrasive blasting operations, concrete batch plants sand and gravel screening, rock and pavement crushing and recycling tub grinders and trammel screens. Such equipment requires either an Air District Permit or a Statewide PERP registration.
A: The District requires a permit for all stationary engines greater than or equal to 50 horsepower (HP) for diesel fueled engines only.
The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) for Stationary Compression Engines Final Regulation Order has established requirements and compliance dates for diesel-fueled engines of greater than 50 HP.
Stationary engines falling under the requirements of the CARB ATCM or any District regulation must be permitted by the District to operate legally. The retrofit of the engine, or even its replacement, may be necessary to comply with applicable District regulations.
In addition, the Statewide PERP registration for some engines and equipment is not valid at any given location where other air contaminant emitting equipment, excluding engines, is operated as a stationary source and if the portable engine or equipment unit may be considered a part of the stationary source. District authorization must be obtained before operating at any specific location where the Statewide registration is not valid. The Statewide registration may also not be valid if certain hazardous or toxic materials are to be processed using PERP registered equipment. The District recommends reading the requirements of registration for your engine or equipment.
A: The Statewide Portable Equipment Registration Program (PERP), established in 1997, has emission standards that engines must satisfy. As a consequence all portable engines are not automatically eligible for registration. Only Final Tier 4 engines qualify for the PERP program.
A: In addition to having established emission limitations that must be satisfied to obtain a registration, the Statewide PERP program requires the conditions of registration are met. Included among the requirements are the following:
A: All instructions, information (including fees), and application forms can be obtained by visiting the California Air Resource Board’s website.
A: The following are commonly found engines and equipment that are not eligible for registration under the Statewide PERP program:
In addition to (3), after a Statewide PERP registration is issued, the District may find that an equipment unit and its associated engine qualify as a part of a stationary source, and that the registration is therefore not valid.
A: As defined by the Statewide PERP regulation, “Portable” means designed and capable of being carried or moved from one location to another. Indications of portability include, but are not limited to, wheels, skids, carrying handles, dolly, trailer, or platform. For the purposes of the regulation, dredge engines on a boat or barge are considered portable. The engine or equipment unit is not portable if any of the following are true:
A: A “Tier 0 Engine” means a non-road engine that is not certified to any emission standard.
A “Tier 1 Engine” means a certified non-road engine, as defined in Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations section 93116.2(e), for the horsepower and year of manufacture as follows:
≥50 bhp and <100 bhp; 1998 through 2003
≥100 bhp and <175 bhp; 1997 through 2002
≥175 bhp and <300 bhp; 1996 through 2002
≥300 bhp and <600 bhp; 1996 through 2000
≥600 bhp and ≤750 bhp; 1996 through 2001
>750 bhp; 2000 through 2005A
“Tier 2 Engine” means a certified non-road engine, as defined in Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations section 93116.2(e), for the horsepower and year of manufacture as follows:
≥50 bhp and <100 bhp; 2004 through 2007
≥100 bhp and <175 bhp; 2003 through 2006
≥175 bhp and <300 bhp; 2003 through 2005
≥300 bhp and <600 bhp; 2001 through 2005
≥600 bhp and ≤750 bhp; 2002 through 2005
>750 bhp; 2006 through 2010
A: Diesel engine operation without a District permit or Statewide PERP registration may be a violation of both District rules and the State’s ATCM for diesel-fueled engines. As long as the engines are not permitted or registered, then each additional day during which the operation of the engine occurs may be counted as a new and additional violation. Engines that do not meet an emission certification standard are called “Tier 0” engines. The District is permitting and allowing the operation of such engines within the NSAQMD until January 1, 2010.
The State’s ATCM for portable diesel-fueled engines does not require Tier 0 diesel-fueled engines to meet new standards until January 1, 2010. For this reason the District may consider using its enforcement discretion to allow operation of a diesel-fueled engine that cannot currently be permitted or registered, provided:
If the engines are “discovered”, and not “disclosed” to the District, the settlement of a separate enforcement action may be necessary before the District will enter into an agreement to allow Tier 0 engine operation.
A: If you do not possess a District permit or Statewide PERP registration for your engine you are in violation of District Rule 501, Permit to Operate Regulations. If the engine is diesel fueled you are also in violation of the State’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Diesel Particulate Matter from Portable Engines Rated at 50 Horsepower and Greater. Among other requirements, this regulation requires that you obtain either a District permit or a Statewide PERP registration.
The District enforces both its rules and the State’s regulation. For each day that you were required to have a permit or registration and did not have one, you are strictly liable for up to $1,000 per day in civil penalties, and may be liable for up to $10,000 per day in civil penalties if the lack of a permit was due to negligent or intentional conduct. Higher penalties may apply if in addition to not possessing a permit or registration the equipment emits pollutants in violation of applicable emission standards. Finally, if a permit is sought then late permit application filing fees may apply.
In taking enforcement action the District will consider as factors in setting the penalty offer whether the violation was discovered by the District or if the violation was voluntarily disclosed, whether prompt action was taken to obtain a permit or registration, whether the violation was intentional or due to negligence, whether emission limitations were violated, and the benefit that accrued from the violation (e.g. avoided costs).
If the lack of a permit or registration “in-hand” is discovered, then the District will not allow operation of the equipment, unless either a District permit or a State registration has been applied for all company equipment subject to permitting/registration in within the NSAQMD, and an agreement on compliance has been reached. The District will take enforcement action for the discovered violation(s), but may elect not to take enforcement action on further operation of the equipment pursuant to a compliance agreement reached between the Operator and the District. If an application for a State PERP registration was made prior to discovery by the District this will be taken into consideration as a mitigating factor; however, the Operator is not absolved from having violated since having the registration prior to operation is a PERP requirement.
For violations disclosed to the District, the District may elect to not take enforcement action provided that a compliance agreement is reached between the Operator and the District and it is adhered to by the Operator to encourage future compliance.
A: You cannot legally operate, within the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, equipment that does not have required permits or registration unless you have a variance or have otherwise entered into a formal compliance agreement with the District. Enforcement action will be taken for the illegal operation of equipment even if you have applied for, but have not yet obtained a District permit or a Statewide PERP registration. You may apply for an expedited permit from the District to bridge the time period until your Statewide Portable Equipment Registration is received or you may enter into a compliance agreement whereby the District has additional assurance that a registration will be sought and obtained.
In taking enforcement action, the District will take into consideration efforts made to comply with air regulations and whether the violation or potential violation was self-disclosed or was discovered by the District.
For example, penalties from District enforcement action and late filing fees may apply for equipment that is “found”, in addition to normal permit fees. Conversely, the District may elect to not seek any penalties for violations that are voluntarily disclosed and where an agreement with the District provides some assurance to the District that corrective action will be taken.
A: Rental equipment is required to meet the same permitting or registration requirements as non-rental equipment, except that when authorized by the Air Resources Board, local district notification is not required for rental equipment of 200 HP or less. The engine and associated equipment should be permitted or registered by the rental company.
If you rent portable equipment you should receive a copy of the registration certificate, including requirements of registration (e.g., the conditions of registration and operation), from the rental company and a certification label should be affixed to the equipment. You share responsibility with the rental company for making sure the equipment is properly permitted or registered prior to your operating the equipment. If the District finds that a registration is not on-hand and/or the equipment sticker showing that the equipment is properly registered, the District may find the renter or the rental company, or both, to be in violation of program requirements.
A: Statewide Portable Equipment Registration Program: Information regarding the Statewide Portable Equipment Registration Program and Application Forms can be obtained by calling (916) 324-5869, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or from the California Air Resources Board’s website. Portable Equipment ATCM: Information concerning the State’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Diesel Particulate Matter from Portable Engines Rated at 50 Horsepower and Greater is available from the California Air Resources Board’s website. Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District Permitting: Permitting information may be obtained by contacting the District at (530) 274-9360, or from the District webpage. Stationary Compression Engine ATCM: Information concerning the State’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Stationary Compression Engines is available from the California Air Resources Board’s website.