West Oakland (Photo courtesy of the California Air Resources Board)

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s board of directors approved a plan to improve the air in West Oakland, district officials said Oct. 4.

The board voted to approve “Own Our Air: The West Oakland Community Action Plan,” which the district wrote with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

Air pollution is higher in West Oakland than in some other areas of the city and region because a lot of industrial activity.

Air district officials said large distribution centers, cement and asphalt plants, a power plant, metal facilities, a rail yard and rail lines, maritime freight and small to medium industrial and manufacturing operations are present there.

West Oakland is surrounded by the Port of Oakland, the Union Pacific rail yard and three interstate highways, which are well traveled. District officials said trucks, cars and road dust contribute to the elevated pollution levels in West Oakland.

The approved plan is a set of strategies and measures that are meant to be implemented during the next five years to further reduce air pollution in West Oakland.

District board members voted unanimously to approve the plan. The next step will be a public hearing on Dec. 5 in West Oakland before the California Air Resources Board.

Air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement, “We look forward to working closely with all West Oakland stakeholders in the years ahead to implement the plan to make a meaningful improvement in people’s lives.”

The plan was prompted by Assembly Bill 617, which was passed concurrently with a re-authorization of the state’s cap-and-trade program. That program is supposed to help halt climate change.

Cap-and-trade is a way to limit emissions while giving businesses an allowance to emit them. Businesses can trade their allowance to another company or bank it.

In a statement, Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, said the plan has been coming together for more than 20 years.

She said, “Because of AB 617, we finally are at a place where we know that there can be emission reductions, pollution reductions and public health improvements to the most impacted and vulnerable residents.”