air pollution

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

For a decade, the Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC) has aimed to reduce the burden of asthma in the San Joaquin Valley, which sits in one of the country’s most polluted air basins and reports some of the highest rates of asthma and asthma-related medical encounters in the state.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

Later this month, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is set to release a report detailing how well its clean air programs are meeting federal requirements for reducing emissions. It’s called an equivalency demonstration, and it’s released annually every November.

EPA AirNow

 

So far in 2020, thousands of wildfires have torched a record-setting 3.2 million acres in California. If that makes this wildfire season unprecedented, here and throughout the West Coast, so is our region’s resulting smog. In a press conference on Monday, Valley air officials said: Don’t expect the air to clear for at least a few more days, and possibly longer.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley lies underneath one of the two most polluted air basins in the country. That’s why, in 2018, two communities here – one in Shafter and one in south-central Fresno – were selected among the first to participate in Assembly Bill 617, an ambitious state law that enables local involvement in air protection.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Tuesday night’s storm may have cleaned up the air for much of the Valley and foothills, but winter is still the season the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District limits wood burning. New changes this year to its “Check Before You Burn” program could bring more no-burn days to Fresno, Madera and Kern Counties.

EPA AirNow

On Monday, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a warning of unhealthy air conditions due to wildfire smoke from Northern California, an alert it repeated on Wednesday. Why then, for days, were online air monitors showing relatively healthy air? It’s the result of the size of the particulate matter blowing into the Valley, but also the level of information that air authorities share with the public.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has accused the state of failing to comply with federal clean air policy.

Flickr user Jeff Turner, CC BY 2.0

On Thursday, the Trump administration revoked California’s authority to set its own rules on tailpipe emissions.

The reversal of California’s nearly-50-year-old waiver means the state won’t be able to push auto makers faster than the federal government can to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that come out of cars. The decision came just a day before students and activists took to the streets in cities across the world – including Fresno – as part of the Global Climate Strike.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

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.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Fowler Unified School District is upgrading its bus fleet, and possibly the air its students breathe. The newest bus model was unveiled Tuesday afternoon at Malaga Elementary School.

It looks like any other school bus: It’s yellow, with dark bench seats and a little stop sign that swings out into traffic. But, as San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Director Samir Sheikh announced at the press conference, it’s electric. “It’s absolutely zero emissions,” he said. “Zero air pollution coming out of that bus.”

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

San Joaquin Valley air still ranks the worst in the country, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report released on Wednesday.

Bakersfield and the Fresno-Madera-Hanford region ranked worst in the country for particle pollution -- despite the fact that many of these cities experienced fewer unhealthy days than the previous year. Visalia also ranked second worst for ozone pollution, right behind the Los Angeles-Long Beach area.

Cal-Span

Kevin Hamilton was surprised when he learned that, for decades, industries that pollute have been able to trade emissions reductions under a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District program. It’s like a bank: If a company installs a new technology that reduces its pollution—and that’s the program's goal—the company can earn what’s called emission reduction credits, or ERCs. It means it can emit more with no penalty. “And you can trade them, they have value,” Hamilton says. “You get a certificate, it's like a stock certificate.”

CAL-SPAN

After years of delays, the state has approved a plan to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Air officials and clean air advocates celebrated Thursday as state Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols announced a unanimous vote to approve a valley-wide plan to control PM2.5. That’s the harmful particulate matter that obstructs the views of snowy Sierra Peaks and is associated with increased asthma attacks, reduced immune function and low birthweight in newborns.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to monitoring air quality, we typically turn to air regulators, like the state and the local San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. But a recent state law is taking on a new strategy: Putting air quality in the hands of the community. And one person who’s excited about the opportunity is Southeast Fresno resident Lilia Becerril.

Becerril lives near the Fresno Fairgrounds and Vang Pao Elementary School. She likes it here, and she’s a kind of neighborhood career volunteer, working with local schools, and groups giving legal aid and tutoring services.

Flickr user Jeff Turner, CC BY 2.0

You know how newer cars are rated to drive a certain number of miles per gallon of fuel? That number is regulated by the federal government. Since 1978, the U.S. has required that cars achieve steadily better fuel economy. Earlier this year, however, the Trump Administration announced a new rule that would revoke some fuel economy standards set by the Obama administration. And a recent hearing in Fresno showed just how contentious the rule is.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It was only a few weeks ago that wildfires drove particle pollution to dangerously high levels in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley and mountain areas, and it could happen again before wildfire season is over. Particulate matter, also known as PM, is a major health risk: It’s known to cause asthma attacks and other respiratory flare-ups in the short term, and exposure over the long term has been associated with reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems.

A much-anticipated plan to reduce particulate matter in the San Joaquin Valley is now up for public comment.

After years of revisions, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is seeking public comment on its latest plan to reduce PM2.5, a harmful pollutant that causes respiratory problems and is increasingly being linked to other serious health conditions.

National Weather Service / Cal Fire

Last month the Carr Fire near Redding exploded overnight in what some people have called a "fire-nado" - with extreme rotating winds that toppled high tension power lines and wrapped metal posts around trees. It was the most extreme case of extreme fire behavior people have seen in California in recent times. But with a record-setting stretch of triple digit temperatures, skies filled with smoke, and fires creating their own weather, 2018 has proven to be anything but normal.

Flickr user Anna Irene (Creative Commons)

Mono Lake is one of the jewels of the Eastern Sierra. Its saline waters have created a unique ecosystem, providing habitat for everything from brine shrimp to migratory birds. But for years Mono Lake has had a problem – water diversions made by the City of Los Angeles. They reduced the level of the lake, harming both the ecosystem and creating massive dust clouds. In the mid-1990’s a deal was reached that both the LA Department of Water and Power and conservationists hoped would save the lake, and increase water levels by reducing the diversions.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When buying a house, everyone’s motivation is different—maybe it’s the desire to start a family, or to start a new job in a new city. Today, we report on a people who move out of the Valley for an entirely different reason—one that’s related to the Valley’s ozone concentrations, which have been creeping higher as the temperature has risen.

Judy Eymann-Taylor is packing. She picks up a gold picture frame leaning against a wall and gingerly cushions it in bubble wrap. “This is a photo that's almost 40 years old now,” she says.

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