In move that sidesteps a federal requirement that state and local air pollution authorities in smoggy areas impose \u201cnon-attainment fees\u201d on businesses they regulate--such as power plants--the South Coast Air Quality Management District believes it has come up with a legally equivalent program as a substitute for the new levy. SCAQMD officials unveiled their proposed equivalency measure Jan. 6 in Diamond Bar and said it\u2019s expected to become a template for other local and regional air districts in smoggy areas of the state. SCAQMD assistant deputy executive officer Laki Tisopulos called the new approach \u201ca more palatable solution\u201d to imposing new fees on power plant operators and other businesses in the Los Angeles area. Business executives at the meeting expressed support. Under the plan, SCAQMD would recognize fees from motorists it receives that are above and beyond what it actually needs to fund programs required by the federal Clean Air Act. First, though, the proposal must be adopted by the agency\u2019s board next month and ultimately approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Sources of excess revenue arise from AB 118, which levies fees on motorists to fund alternative fuel programs. There also are longstanding fees collected under other laws aimed at controlling emissions from motor vehicles. SCAQMD said this approach is warranted because 80 percent of the emissions that form ozone in the area it covers--which includes greater Los Angeles--come from motor vehicles. Only 10 percent come from power plants, refineries, and other stationary sources, according to the agency. The new approach comes under an EPA warning of federal \u201csanctions\u201d if the agency does not adopt the non-attainment fees under section 185 of the Clean Air Act. EPA warned it could cut off federal funding for highways, plus ratchet up pollution control requirements for new power plants and other projects if the agency does not adopt the fees, or something equivalent, by 2012. Despite that warning, SCAQMD\u2019s board balked last year when its staff presented a proposal to impose $29 million a year in new non-attainment fees on regulated businesses, including $2.43 million on the power industry. Businesses voiced loud opposition to the fees as unjustified in an area that has some of the tightest pollution control requirements in the nation. SCAQMD estimates it is set to receive about the equivalent amount of money--some $34 million a year--from motor vehicle fees that are not needed to support federally-mandated air pollution clean up programs.