The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District believes it has met the federal one-hour ozone standard, so the Valley should be relieved of the $29 million annual fine that is paid primarily through higher vehicle registration fees. It could take a year to learn whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will remove the penalty, but we think the progress is worth applauding. For the first time on record, the Valley did not record a violation of the one-hour ozone standard during the warm months when the problem occurs.
Credit for the achievement goes largely to businesses that have invested $40 billion in clean air technology since the 1980s and to motorists and other residents for cooperating with air alerts.
There are two kinds of air problems in the Valley: ozone levels and PM, the particulate pollution usually associated with dust. A few years ago, the Valley achieved the federal PM-10 standard. Meeting the standard in either category does not mean that the Valley can relax. We have to maintain the efforts.
Thats a good segue to a request for residents to check before burning. You can look on the daily weather report in The Bee (usually on Page B6) or go to the air district website, www.valleyair.org. The district will even send you daily updates if you request.