Clearing the Air: Public be Damned!

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By Tom Frantz

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (air district) recently released their annual report to the community. It is a collection of misleading information describing the great job being done cleaning up our air. If you get one of these reports feel free to clean your shoes with it.

These reports are the work of Seyed Sadredin, Executive Director, and air district propaganda chief. They are greatly appreciated by his board and the environmentally devastating factory dairy oil industries.

Seyed popularized the unsubstantiated idea that Valley businesses have reduced their pollution over 80 percent and should therefore not be asked to do anymore. He has worn out that phrase for the past ten years and the public should perhaps ask why there has been no further improvement in all that time. Cars have reduced their emissions 99 percent. Diesel trucks reached the 90 percent improvement level with the 2010 models and 98 percent is around the corner.

Seyed’s misinformation through the years includes claiming he tried to prevent the removal of the Arvin Bear Mtn monitor in 2010. This removal instantly decreased the highest Valley ozone levels more than 15 percent. He has also said that most PM2.5 is not as harmful as scientists claim.

One of Seyed’s most callous statements ever was to say that the human cost of dirty air in the Valley was greatly over-estimated by economists because they placed too high a value on the lives of prematurely dying Valley residents. His implication was if you are poor in the San Joaquin Valley your life is not worth as much as elsewhere.

This most recent annual report contains two huge whoppers among the pages of steaming excrement. The first is that no stone has been left unturned in the fight to clean our air. The second is the federal Clean Air Act needs to be modernized to better protect public health.

There are many stones left to overturn amongst the potential ways of controlling the major sources of air pollution in this valley. Several examples are being looked at right now at the insistence of the California Air Resources Board. A 99 percent ban on burning wood in homes plus stopping the burning of waste and biomass at power plants is high on the list. Technologically feasible improvements in boilers at glass factories and in oil field operations could get efficient gains.

Farm operations have room for massive improvements from both internal combustion engine use and dust emissions. Rules requiring expanded mitigation for the air quality impacts from increased traffic at new commercial development need to be implemented. Restaurants searing meat must start placing particulate filters on their exhaust pipes. It is also time to significantly reduce the huge amounts of ammonia and organic gasses coming from milk factories. The list goes on.

Modernizing the Clean Air Act became an air district strategy during the Obama administration. Our district claims the CAA is antiquated. But, most of what they want is to take away sanctions on local polluters for the Valley’s continued failure to meet standards on time. It is basically an attempt to save large local polluters money and to keep passing those costs on to residents in the form of poorer health. With the regressive Trump stooges in charge, the air district is wetting itself because they may get even more with the entire Act thrown out.

The public has been giving the air district fits recently with many new suggestions of reasonable ways to further reduce PM2.5 emissions. The air district has retaliated by insulting the public for the “draconian” suggestions they claim were made in 2007 when someone suggested that perhaps voluntary no-drive days be looked at in combination with free public transportation. The air district is saying this is ridiculous and perhaps the public is too stupid to make reasonable recommendations.

Finally, California may well pass a new law this year (SB49) that makes federal Clean Air Act standards and regulations a part of state law no matter what happens at the federal level. This would hopefully ruin the air district’s attempts to gut the Clean Air Act.

The next step should be for valley residents to ask the state to take over the local air board because of their incompetence, their lies, their refusal to obey the law, and their willful attempts to harm the public for the sake of greater profits.

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Longtime clean air advocate Tom Frantz is a retired math teacher and Kern County almond farmer. A founding member of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, he serves on the CVAQ steering committee and as president of the Association of Irritated Residents. CVAQ is a partnership of more than 70 community, medical, public health, environmental, and environmental justice organizations representing thousands of residents in the San Joaquin Valley unified in their commitment to improving the health of Californians. For more information, visit www. calcleanair.org.