New regulations approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) last December put regulatory “Criteria Pollutant” reporting requirements on at least 17,205 small business in the state, including crematories, starting next year. 

The estimate of the number of small businesses impacted by these new rules comes from a report issued in April with a comment period that ended June 7th entitled Economic Effects of Criteria and Toxics Emissions Reporting Regulation. 

The agency freely admits there is a political underpinning for this new, stiffer regulatory reporting regime—Supporting Environmental Justice Activities—is the headline on CARB’s website explains this tough approach behind the new rules. 

It is CARB’s way of fulfilling two recent legislative actions, Assembly Bill 617, passed in 2017, which “aims to reduce the burden from air pollution impacts on environmental justice communities.” Similarly, the objective of AB 197 (2016) “is to achieve emissions reductions beyond the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit and to protect the state’s highly impacted and disadvantaged communities.”

What’s New?

The regulation will require companies small and otherwise to specify the “Criteria Pollutants” generated by their operations and report the amount, in tons, emitted into the air over their shop. In California, “Criteria Pollutants” include ten different substances, four more than the national standards. 


  • Particulate Matter (PM10 & PM2.5) 
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Visibility Reducing Particles
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Sulfur Dioxide (So2)
  • Sulfate
  • Lead
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
  • Vinyl Chloride


Some of the affected small businesses include: retail gasoline fueling stations, dry cleaners, print shops, auto body and auto paint shops, metal plating, metal grinding and finishing, coating and finishing facilities, industrial cleaning and degreasing operations, welding operations, facilities with backup diesel generators and emergency fire pumps, crematories, agricultural operations, and others

Lowballing the Impact

The original estimate provided the board when it initially adopted the regulation was that it would impact 4,750 small businesses (firms with fewer than 100 employees), at an estimated a cost of a mere $1.1 million or $230 each on average. Now the agency is admitting its estimates were off just a tad and with the new estimate of 17,205 small businesses regulated the cost will rise to $12.8 million annually or about $750. 

Small businesses are not the only organizations caught in this new regulatory trap—a total of 50,000 businesses large and small and government agencies including CARB’s regional air boards will face $80 million in reporting costs every year. D


By Brendan Slagle, ECA President Email: [email protected]