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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Dedicated California Air Resources Board Lab in Riverside, with a piece of gas pump hose

The state agency that gave you the check engine light and held Volkswagen accountable is taking its clean-air mission to Riverside.

Community leaders and elected officials met Thursday, November 18 at the California Air Resources Board Southern California Headquarters — Mary D. Nicholas Campus, a 402,000-square-foot, $419 million dedicated research facility that uses state-of-the-art technology to measure emissions from weeds. Crackers, trucks and everything in between.

The headquarter’s name joined current president Lian Randolph in cutting the gas pump hose – instead of a ribbon – to officially open the facility.

Riverside Mayor Patricia Locke Dawson was among those speaking at the dedication. A Riverside native, she recalled as a 9-year-old in the 1970s who was unable to see the mountains and her chest and eyes burning due to air pollution.

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Thanks to the agency, “now we can often see mountains…” she said. “But we are not safe. Not by a long shot… because unfortunately, many riversiders, many of them children, still suffer from “toxic air.”

Cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, lawn and garden equipment and off-road and boat engines can be tested with laboratory rooms at the headquarters – some adhering to strict hygiene standards that require special suits to perform the job. Requires – Conducting advanced emissions research and measurement.

Nichols, who chaired the agency and whose career as an environmental advocate spanned four decades, said that Riverside “has always been the center of the fight against haze” and that her first public interest lawsuit in the early 1970s was the center of

“If you ask people what do you think a state laboratory would look like, I don’t think anyone would have such a beautiful building, which would benefit the welfare of the people who work in it as well as the people who come here from all over the world. Visitors… ”said Nicholas.

California’s Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld called the headquarters a “building of resistance.” It’s about standing up and saying ‘we care’. We’re going to fund things that show empirically how pollution enters the world and we’re going to hold people accountable.”

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“So if there is one group of people who are not happy today, it is those people who are polluting the planet.”

The Iowa Avenue headquarters arrives “at a critical time,” said State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside. “Our focus is not only on clean air, but how to best deploy technology to combat climate change.”

“This new facility promises to keep California at the fore in those efforts, while making this inland Southern California region an incubator for clean technology and a source for the high-tech jobs of the future,” he said.

Headquarters, which broke ground in 2017, sits on a 19-acre state-owned site. UC Riverside donated the land, which is surrounded by citrus trees to the south and west.

Its features include a 250-seat auditorium and public artwork focused on air quality and climate change, including a courtyard sculpture of fossil fuel pumps. In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars starting in 2035.

The headquarters’ $419 million price tag is partly funded by Volkswagen, which paid $154 million as penalties for a plan uncovered in 2014 by agency scientists and technicians to circumvent auto emissions regulations. did.

The building is also known as the largest “Net Zero Energy” building in the United States, meaning it makes as much energy as it uses. The solar arrays will generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity for the facility, which has received platinum certification from the Green Building Certification Program.

School children and college students will have access to headquarters through agreements with UCR, the Riverside Unified School District and the Riverside Community College District.

The headquarters has space for 460 employees with scope for expansion. Many will be moved from the agency’s Haagen-Smit laboratory in El Monte, which was the state of the art “in 1973,” Randolph said.

The research that led to the three-way catalytic converter and on-board diagnostic system — which sets off your “check engine” light — was conducted at Hagen-Schmidt. Local leaders hope the new facility spurs similar progress and serves as an anchor for high-tech, high-paying jobs in an area where income lags behind other parts of California.

“This has a huge economic impact for Riverside, not only for the city but for the region,” said Riverside County Supervisor Karen Spiegel. The work being done at the headquarters near UCR “will propel the region to become a worldwide technology hub.”

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