In this past Wednesday’s (May 16, 2018) “Odds of reaching new(est) pollution standards in California’s San Joaquin Valley rather bleak,” Air Quality Matters post, I spelled out the main problem with air pollution in the Valley.
Truth be told, the outlook has gone from bad to worse and in relatively short order.
In the May 16 post, cited was a passage from the July 2016 Valley Air News publication. The specific passage I’m referring to reads: “‘The [San Joaquin] Valley Air [Pollution Control] 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.’”
When all was said and done, as I understand the situation, the air district in the Valley had not gotten the assist from the EPA that it was specifically requesting. That said and since that summer 2016 publication date, I am letting it be known at this time that there have been some new developments.
Among the new developments, several were disclosed in the “Feds, state provide millions to clean up diesel trucks, tractors – but is it enough?” article in the May 16, 2018 Bakersfield Californian. Resonating most with me were the concluding remarks made by Kern County, California, grower and air quality advocate Tom Frantz who spelled it out in no uncertain terms, in essence, saying: At the rate things are moving where trucking is concerned, clean air in the Valley won’t happen for another 52 years. In other words, the rate of air-cleanup progress in the Valley that is being made as it has to do with the number and type and cost of replacement heavy duty diesel goods-movement trucks to replace those that are higher-polluting, for Frantz, apparently, isn’t fast enough.
Furthermore, article author Steven Mayer related the Valley air district received almost $6.4 million from the EPA, money awarded for the purpose of supplanting dirtier diesel trucks with 90 percent cleaner-burning ones, while for outdated tractors used in farming operations are replacement versions meeting current pollution standards.
And exactly how many cleaner trucks and tractors can that kind of money purchase?
Three-hundred, eighty-one trucks and tractors to be precise: more tractors than trucks, by the way. Anyway, that was what officials with the air district told Mayer, according to what the Bakersfield Californian article author wrote.
Also pointed out by Mayer was the number of trucks that transit the Valley daily that is on a 24 hours-per-day/7-days-per-week basis, and that number, according to air district estimates, is 226,000, as Mayer explained.
The money the air district’s Truck Replacement Program is able to provide on an annual basis essentially amounts to but a tiny fraction of the roughly one billion dollars per annum the air district needs to supplant the number of trucks being referred to here – numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Meanwhile, last month, according to Mayer, $8 million from the California Energy Commission was accepted by the governing board of the air district. The funds are enough to replace 80 additional trucks.
Interesting that the roughly $6.4 million provided from the air district was enough to buy twelve dozen replacement trucks with the remainder designated for farm tractors, yet, $8 million from the CEC is only enough money to buy an additional 80 trucks?! Seems odd, incongruous, to say the least.
To repeat a passage from the “Odds of reaching new(est) pollution standards in California’s San Joaquin Valley rather bleak” Air Quality Matters post article of May 16, 2018, “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.”
That’s the reality.
At any rate, to make a real dent in Valley air pollution, financial contributions must be in the billions, not the millions as is, apparently, currently the case.
But, based on what was explained three paragraphs above, even if billions in funding to clean the Valley’s dirty air problem were guaranteed, that still might not be enough for the Valley to meet the newest pollutant-emissions standards.
Much good has been accomplished for sure, yet there is still so very far to go. And, as it relates, if I know the air-quality advocate that Tom Frantz is like I think I do, I believe that when it comes to seconding those very sentiments, he would have absolutely no qualms.
Image above: California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board
This post was last revised on May 19, 2020 @ 7:22 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
– Alan Kandel