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Valley Air District Approves Community-Led Plans To Improve Air Quality In Shafter, Fresno

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Kerry Klein
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Valley Public Radio
Fresno resident Kim McCoy, standing on the right, shares her concerns about air quality in Southwest Fresno during a meeting of the Valley air district's governing board on September 19, 2019.

Air quality stole a lot of headlines this week, as the Trump Administration moved to revoke California’s ability to set its own tailpipe emissions standards distinct from those mandated federally by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not only could the move prevent future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it could also prevent gains in air quality that are much needed in the San Joaquin Valley and California’s other polluted air basins.

Simultaneously, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District made a few decisions that could also be significant for local air quality: It approved two community-led plans that aim to improve air quality in a region of South Central Fresno and the Kern County City of Shafter. At a public meeting on Thursday, the governing board approved of both plans unanimously, and for the most part, residents, business representatives and environmental justice advocates agreed in their support for the plans—though not without caveats.

Listen to this interview with FM89’s Kerry Klein to hear more about what’s in these plans, how they were created, and how some community members hope the plans can still be improved.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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