On June 10, the NPCA became the first industry group to challenge in court regulations adopted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) on May 14, 1999, which become effective in 2002 and 2006. The regulations limit the amount of VOCs in architectural and industrial-maintenance (AIM) coatings.

The NPCA’s petition, filed in the Superior Court of Orange County, CA, argues that the new limits on coatings formulation were adopted in violation of California law. The petition claims that the SCAQMD ignored evidence that the future limits on VOC content were not technologically feasible for many applications.

Specific legal arguments raised by the NPCA petition include that the SCAQMD violated a California statute that requires proposed rules to be finalized 30 days before an air district board votes on them to allow a sufficient time for public comment. The complaint also asserts that the SCAQMD understated the costs of the revisions in its socioeconomic analysis and violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to analyze the environmental impact if effective compliant coatings are unavailable in 2002 and 2006.

The complaint also alleges that several aspects of the rule making are “arbitrary and capricious.” For example, effective industrial-maintenance coatings are essential to maintaining the structural integrity of infrastructure, such as bridges and catwalks. But the SCAQMD’s revisions allow coatings used by “essential public services” to avoid the much lower VOC limits that are imposed on private sector infrastructure.

The NPCA anticipates that a decision on the petition will occur within the next six to nine months.

The SCAQMD’s revised Rule 1113 is now the most stringent rule in the country regulating VOC emissions from AIM coatings. The amendment lowers the VOC limits for several major categories of AIM products, including floor coatings; industrial-maintenance coatings; nonflat coatings; primers, sealers and undercoaters; quick-dry enamels; quick-dry primers, sealers and undercoaters; stains; rust-preventative coatings; and waterproofing sealers for wood. The changes in VOC limits will come in two phases; the first on July 1, 2002, and a second round of reductions July 1, 2006.

The amended rule contains several last-minute modifications to the original proposal. These include new categories for chemical storage tank coatings, specialty primers and recycled coatings, and essential public service coatings, as well as a provision extending the compliance deadline for small manufacturers by two years.

In passing the amendments, the Governing Board, in response to NPCA and industry requests, directed SCAQMD staff to continue to work with industry over the next 90 days to resolve outstanding issues. Among these concerns is a more complete review and analysis of the results of the National Technical Systems study that was commissioned by the SCAQMD staff to evaluate low-VOC coatings performance and the need for specialty coatings. The SCAQMD board also directed staff to establish industry working groups to discuss implementing an averaging provision of the rule on the need for higher VOC niche market or specialty coatings as general coatings categories VOC limits are lowered, and on the availability of technology to meet the new limits.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), in response to the SCAQMD’s approval of amended Rule 1113, has begun the process of revising the suggested control measure (SCM) for architectural coatings. The SCM is intended as a recommended control measure for individual California air districts to consider adopting. On May 19, CARB issued its initial draft proposal for changes to the SCM. The draft SCM not only reflects the SCAQMD’s changes to Rule 1113, but goes several steps further in recommending reductions in VOC limits for 10 additional categories of AIM products. As result of discussions with the NPCA, CARB staff has decided to review the matter further before developing a final SCM that it would recommend to the Board. This is now expected in the spring of 2000.