Odds of reaching new(est) pollution standards in California’s San Joaquin Valley rather bleak

Valley’s woes and worries

Peering at a graph in the July 2016 Valley Air News publication, which has as a vertical plot “Tons per day” of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in California’s San Joaquin Valley, if I interpreted correctly what I see related to this, all mobile sources such as “Passenger Vehicles,” “Heavy Duty Trucks,” “Farm Equipment,” “Off-Road Equipment,” and “Other Off-Road, including Trains,” would need to be relegated to complete disuse, either that or a complete turnover in terms of mobile source usage switching from emissions-producing vehicles and farming equipment to zero-emissions-producing vehicles and farming equipment, that is, in order for the Valley to be in compliance with what is referred to in the Valley Air News publication as “New PM2.5 and 8-hr ozone standards.” And, that’s if pollution from stationary and area sources doesn’t experience an increase. And, how likely is that? Not very. And, those standards look to be at a NOx level of approximately 45 tons per day.

So, what’s the Valley to do?

For starters, remember that in all of California, roughly 4.5 percent of all new automobile sales are zero-emissions. The goal is 1.5 million electrics on California roads by 2025; in other words in the neighborhood of five percent of all registered motor vehicles in the Golden State today.

Barring a full embrace by Valley motorists of ZEVs, what would be required is far, far greater usage of no-emissions public and active transportation. Active transportation includes walking and biking. This big-time embrace of mass and active transit isn’t likely either based on historical evidence, also referred to as trends. Especially, when you consider the Valley’s proclivity or propensity for road building. When was the last time a railroad was built anywhere in the Central Valley? I cannot think of a single instance since the very early 1900s.

Which could explain the reason why the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (Valley Air District) has solicited the help of the fed in terms of regulating or better regulating mobile source emissions.

Whoa to Valley emissions

From the July 2016 Valley Air News publication:

“The Valley Air District submitted a petition requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take regulatory action to reduce air pollution from heavy duty trucks and locomotives. The petition was approved [presumably by the District] during the District’s Governing Board meeting on June 16.

“The Board took this action as part of the District’s process for developing an air quality attainment plan to meet the latest health standards for particulates and ozone as mandated under federal law. According to the Valley Air District, meeting these federal standards requires another 90% reduction in fossil fuel combustion emissions. With Valley businesses already subject to the toughest air regulations in the nation, the needed reductions can only come from mobile sources that fall under the EPA’s legal jurisdiction.”

And, how’s that going?

“At this point it is unclear whether the EPA will respond affirmatively to the petition filed by the District. Although the District is hopeful, discussions with EPA cast doubt on the federal agency’s willingness to pursue a national standard.”

Remember, this was back during the summer of 2016.

According to the way I see things, there has not been much if any progress in this regard since then. These days, the current EPA’s stance on the matter, it appears, is one of keeping current standards for vehicle emissions in place, at least from 2020 to 2025 or thereabouts, rather than the further tightening thereof. What I interpret the EPA’s action on this to be, at any rate.

So, I ask again: What is the Valley (and state) to do?

Initiating the what I’m calling “the old faithful,” that is, the taking of legal action and apparently that process has already begun.

In time, obviously, learned will be the outcome. So stay tuned.

California’s expansive and agriculturally fertile yet often air-polluted San Joaquin Valley

Image (upper): California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board

This post was last revised on May 19, 2020 @ 7:18 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

 – Alan Kandel

1 thought on “Odds of reaching new(est) pollution standards in California’s San Joaquin Valley rather bleak”

  1. How many times have you pulled up to close behind a school bus and get smacked in the face with a load of black, noxious fumes. Hear in the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert, the city transportation and school systems have converted to clean emission fuel or electric buses. Being a bedroom community to the Los Angeles county, the use of biking or walking is not feasible, however, the use of green energy is more feasible. Not to mention the Antelope Valley is an aerospace territory and clean air is a must. With the San Joaquin being an agricultural area, clean air really is a must as well. So if they can cut harmful emissions with farm equipment and product transportation, the benefit would be not just to the local area, but globally as well.

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