Our journey toward cleaner air once again showcased the exceptional traits for which San Joaquin Valley residents are well known. With hard work, ingenuity, and the desire and ability to overcome challenges, we had another record-setting year for clean air; acquired and invested significant dollars to fund clean air projects; and took bold action to bring common sense improvements to the federal Clean Air Act.
With the return of more typical weather to the Valley during the winter months, particulate matter levels once again trended downward. A heartfelt Thank You goes out to Valley residents for their continued compliance and cooperation in helping us implement Check Before You Burn, the residential wood burning program − one of the Air District’s most important public health measures.
Last year, we worked effectively and cooperatively with Valley industry representatives, community activists and civic leaders, to advocate for the Valley’s fair share of available state and federal funding. These efforts were successful in bringing to the Valley more than $140 million which were invested in projects aimed at reducing air pollution in our communities.
Last year, the Air District Governing Board took bold action to modernize the federal Clean Air Act with a proposal to retain the core elements in the Act that serve to protect public health while streamlining the administrative requirements, and ensuring expeditious air quality improvement while considering technological and economic feasibility.
Despite significant improvements in air quality, we must continue to work to meet the ever-exacting federal air quality standards. We are at a critical juncture this year as we begin the process to design and promulgate new air quality attainment plans that require transformative measures. Meeting the federal standards for particulate matter and ozone requires a virtual elimination of all emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
Key areas of focus for the coming year include:
Assigning pollution reduction responsibilities to the federal government
After decades of reducing air pollution with local and state measures, more than 80 percent of pollution in the San Joaquin Valley now comes from sources under federal jurisdiction. Attaining federal standards is not possible without significant reductions in emissions from these source categories. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown resistance in the past, in the coming attainment plans the Air District will strive to include legally binding federal assignments.
Bringing cap and trade funding to the Valley
In collaboration with Valley stakeholders, the Air District will continue working to ensure the Valley receives proportional funding given the disproportionate number of disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley. These efforts will include advocacy with legislature and state agencies and working with the Valley’s many municipalities and community organizations to build capacity to compete for and effectively spend the dollars available.
Continuing efforts to modernize the Clean Air Act
The Air District will continue to work with the Congress and the Executive Branch to advance legislative and/or administrative changes that eliminate confusion and enhance economic and technological feasibility while strengthening the health protective core of the Clean Air Act.