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The Sacramento region will have a seat on the California Air Resources Board under legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown this week.

Assembly Bill 146 will expand the ARB from 11 to 12 members, with the new seat reserved for a representative from the Sacramento, Placer, Yolo-Solano, El Dorado or Feather River air districts.

Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who proposed AB 146, noted that the Sacramento region had been the largest major metropolitan area in California not assured a seat on the state air board.

Key duties of the Air Resources Board include controlling motor vehicle emissions and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as required under landmark legislation passed in 2006.

The Sacramento region has struggled for years to meet federal air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter, so the issue of representation on the ARB has been particularly acute to local officials.

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation seven years ago that would have added two members to the ARB, including one from the Sacramento region.

All ARB members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor. They are subject to confirmation by the state Senate. Board members serve part-time, except for the chair, chosen by the governor.

State law, prior to AB 146, called for the ARB's 11 members to consist of four with certain types of expertise, such as a physician and an expert in auto engineering; two public members; four representatives from specified urban air districts; and one person from an undesignated air district.

The San Francisco, San Diego, San Joaquin Valley and South Coast air quality districts -- the latter from the Los Angeles area -- were the four assured of an ARB seat in years past. Their representation will not change. AB 146 simply adds a seat for the Sacramento region as well.

Rural counties had opposed Dickinson's bill, arguing that giving the Sacramento region an ARB seat would exacerbate an imbalance giving urban air districts far more power than rural districts on the board.

AB 146, signed Tuesday by Brown, passed the Assembly by a vote of 54-24, and the Senate by 24-9. Most Democrats supported the bill, while many Republicans opposed it. The measure will take effect Jan. 1.

* Updated at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday to add opposition from rural counties.


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