A new rule designed to lower emission levels from natural gas and diesel engines in the San Joaquin Valley will kick into gear in the next few months as the first of several air quality deadlines arrive starting Jan. 1, 2008.

Nearly all stationary and portable internal combustion engines that are over 50 horsepower in size – in the San Joaquin Valley will have to be replaced or retrofitted to meet the rule requirements. Seven workshops have been scheduled to provide rule detail and candidly layout options for an engine owner/operator.

The rule falls under the jurisdiction of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and is part of a statewide effort to lower specific emissions – oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide – that have been linked to the formation of lower ozone.

Owner/operators are encouraged to attend the informational meetings to learn how it will affect their operation and what measures are needed to ensure compliance. District staff, engine dealers, pump dealers, emission control vendors, and agricultural representatives will be available as a resource and will assist interested participants in reviewing their compliance options. Participants are encouraged to bring general information about the engines they operate with them to the workshop, and can have their questions answered individually.

Engine owners can apply for grant funding, which provides financial assistance to an engine owner that replaces equipment with a “cleaner-burning” engine. However, deadlines are short and funds are limited when it comes to complying with the new rule.

Meetings are hosted by a coalition of industry and SJVAPCD representatives that have been working together during the past year to parlay rule concerns and coordinate outreach to engine owners.

Meeting dates and locations:

Wednesday June 20, 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.,Stockton San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, 3290 North Ad Art Road, Stockton

Wednesday, June 20, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Modesto Stanislaus Ag Center (Harvest Hall), 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto

Tuesday, June 26, 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., Kerman Kerman Community Center, 15100 West Kearney Blvd., Kerman

Tuesday, June 26, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.,Madera Madera County Farm Bureau, 1102 S. Pine Street, Madera

Thursday, June 28, 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m., Bakersfield UC Cooperative Extension Office, 1031 S. Mount Vernon, Bakersfield Thursday, June 28, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Tulare Tulare Ag Commissioners Office, 4437 S. Laspina, Tulare

Friday, June 29,9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.,Hanford Kings County Ag Department, 680 N. Campus Drive, Hanford

The workshops are hosted by Agriculture Improving Resources (A.I.R), a coalition of agricultural and governmental agencies formed to help educate farmers and ranchers about air quality issues. Partners in A.I.R include: Almond Hullers and Processors Association, California Air Resources Board, California Apple Commission, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Citrus Mutual, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grape & Tree Fruit League, California Cotton Ginners & Growers Associations, Western Plant Health Association, Fresno County Farm Bureau, Kern County Farm Bureau, Kings County Farm Bureau, Madera County Farm Bureau, Merced County Farm Bureau, San Joaquin Farm Bureau, Nisei Farmers League, Raisin Bargaining Association, San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Tulare County Farm Bureau, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.