Monday, 10 November 2014

Regional Differences in Valley Air Pollution Could Drive Changes in Regulatory Approach

The Fresno Bee article linked below features an important regional environmental-economic issue that is often under the radar.
Clovis and Bakersfield, with dirtiest of dirty air, complicate Valley’s pollution battle

The article talks about air pollution hot spots that cause the entire Valley to be out of attainment with federal standards, and how air pollution regulators are looking to focus on pollution “hot spots”.   The graph below, borrowed from a regional data brief from California Forward, illustrates the regional disparities.



Overall, the North San Joaquin Valley (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced) has less than 1/3 the number of unhealthy air days as Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, and is actually better than Sacramento, and far better than LA and the Inland Empire.

The NSJV complains about the regulatory costs and poor image that comes from being associated being grouped with the South.  The South Valley complains that much of their pollution isn’t local, but is blown in from the North.

Some clips from the Fresno Bee article
“If those places do not attain the standard, the Valley won’t attain,” district executive director Seyed Sadredin said. “We’re not talking about backing off on the pollution reduction in other parts of the Valley. But we’re seeing that these two hot spots need more attention.”To focus on Clovis and Bakersfield, officials will need to deal with regional politics, doubts from air activists and probably state and federal air agencies…
Historically, the politics have involved the Valley’s northern tier of counties — San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced. Their air is cleaner than counties to the south, but they feel they need to speak up for their share of the $150 million in federal and state grants the district gets each year.
The money helps replace diesel engines, fireplace inserts, gasoline-powered lawnmowers and pay for many other incentive-based cleanup programs. Thousands of old diesel engines and diesel-powered vehicles have been replaced with this kind of money.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O’Brien, an air district board member, defends the northern counties.
“We can’t just take the money from one area and give it another,” said O’Brien, whose family owns O’Brien’s Market, based in Modesto. “If the hot spot is around Fresno or Bakersfield, then we might want to talk about different rules and different ways of raising money in those areas to spend there.”

About the Author

Ethan Jacob

Author & Editor

I am Ethan Jacob Executive Director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific, where I have a joint faculty appointment in the Eberhardt School of Business and the Public Policy Program in the McGeorge School of Law..

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