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AWMA ACE Panels RECAP 7/26/22

Addressing the environmental impacts on communities in the United States and around the world requires innovative and sustainable solutions guided by science. California is a global leader in environmental policy and technology, making San Francisco a unique location for the 2022 Annual Conference. From June 27 – 30, 2022, the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) brought leading environmental scientists, practitioners, regulators, and companies to San Francisco to share the latest initiatives addressing environmental issues facing communities such as climate change, exposure reduction through innovative technology and regulatory approaches, sustainability, community   monitoring, and environmental justice.

Founded in 1907, the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional organization enhancing knowledge and expertise by providing a neutral forum for information exchange, professional development, networking opportunities, public education, and outreach to more than 5,000 environmental professionals in 65 countries. A&WMA promotes global environmental responsibility and increases the effectiveness of organizations to make critical decisions that benefit society.

The Mission of A&WMA is to assist in the professional development and critical environmental decision-making of our members to benefit society.

The Core Purpose of A&WMA is to improve environmental knowledge and decisions by providing a neutral forum for exchanging information.

Additional information can be found here:

Chris Easter chaired two panels at AWMA ACE.  During the Carbon Neutrality panel a sense of urgency emerged from both the panelists and the audience related to the loss of time to act as well as a need for additional tools to allow for a smooth transition to a carbon neutral economy.  One conclusion reached was that there is currently a lack of both carbon offset projects and protocols as well as removal technologies to meet the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality.  It was also agreed that better data management, visualization, and more frequent and transparent calculation of GHG emission inventories is necessary.

The health risk panel featured more content from panelists and less input from the audience but was also informative and engaging.  A few of the takeaways from this panel were the vast differences in tools available to calculate existing, cumulative risk in the various air basins throughout California, and the potential challenge in the lag time in updating these tools with changing conditions and the big data challenge therein.  It was also noted that wildfires both skew the data and make long term risk calculation difficult.  While the panel all agreed that increased PM2.5 concentrations from wildfire activity pose a major threat, an approach to mitigating this emerging challenge is not clear at the present time.

NOTES  from the A&WMA ACE events:

Chris Easter chaired The Evolving Landscape of Carbon Neutrality Goals panel which included presentations from our panelist Lizzie Aldrich, Vice President of Business Development from Anew Climate, Inc., Danielle Cagan Vice President, Consumer, Sustainability & Reputation] California State Automobile Association, Abby Young, Manager in Bay Air Quality Management District’s Climate Team, and Jeff Caton {Director of Sustainable Communities, Climate Action Plan Expert.  Michelle Le provided important support as the Deputy Panel Chair.

Carbon neutral commitments by governments and private companies were discussed in the context of methods set for determining GHG reduction goals and targets, including the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) ( The role of emissions offsets was debated and the need for more offsets and protocols discussed.  The debate also focused on the rigor and availability of tracking tools to meet interim milestones on the road to carbon neutrality. Some of the questions asked and discussed included: the San Francisco air basin’s role in achieving a fair share of carbon reductions; the role off-site mitigation plays  in achieving carbon neutrality;  The role that the Air District will play in facilitating these programs; the percent of offsets and offsite removals that would be needed, and the role of Scope 3 emissions in meeting that challenge.

Chris Easter also chaired The Community health Risk Assessment Methods Addressing Cumulative Risk in Overburdened Communities which included presentations from our panelists Philip Martien Ph.D. , Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Director  Assessment, Inventory, & Modeling Division and a conference keynote speaker; Jessica Range [City and County of San Francisco, Principal Environmental Planner Environmental Planning Division; Michael Morris, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Program Supervisor/CEQA IGR Planning, Rule Development & Area Sources; Brian Schuster, Senior Managing Associate,  Cumulative HRA expert with ESA; Alan Sako , Southern California Regional Air Quality Director,  Mobile Emissions HRA Expert with ESA .

The panelists’ presentations focused on health risk assessment (HRA) methods/tools and approaches used to evaluate elevated cancer and respiratory disease risks within overburdened communities. Our panelists discussed approaches to conducting project-level HRAs, including those related to CEQA, within communities exposed to high-levels of toxic air pollution.  We also focused on cumulative health impacts in the context of Assembly Bill (AB) 617, the Community Air Protection Program (CAPP). There were numerous topics addressed during the Q&A including: What’s worked well with the air district’s AB617 overburdened community programs; while the San Francisco community risk program known as APEZ is an impressive program, how the City will meet the challenge in terms of keeping it current and managing the big data program; how are developers going to address all these new AB617-driven requirements for project design; what can be done to address the high degree of variability in the AB 617 rollout across districts and communities. 

Panelists also discussed offsite risk reduction measures, such as MERV upgrades in offsite residential buildings to limit exposures, and incorporation of wild fires into our cumulative risk assessments and risk reduction approaches.


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