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When the Smoke Clears

Ag burning grid
Monica Vaughan, KVPR; California Air Resources Board; San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
Open agricultural burning is a useful tool for San Joaquin Valley farmers, but it contributes to poor air quality that can exacerbate asthma and other health effects.

Twenty years ago, California legislators passed a law to ban agricultural burning in the San Joaquin Valley to reduce pollution and improve public health. But the practice never ended. Now, air regulators are implementing a new plan to end most burning in the next few years. Will it work?

In this series, reporters Kerry Klein and Monica Vaughan explore why farmers are reluctant to switch to alternatives to burning despite massive amounts of incentive funding, and why clean air advocates and residents are skeptical the smoke will actually clear.