What would happen to California air, should state voters in November – that is, after which, if backed by the state legislature, federal government and possibly the court(s) if need be – decide that it is okay to split the state in three? If this happens, not only what would emerge would be three new California’s, but the new Northern (North?) California, with 40 counties in all, would have its name added to a cohort of America’s cleanest-air states, Oregon and Washington among them.
As for the new California, it would be comprised of but six counties (the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito), while not exactly possessing the quality of air of its northern counterpart, it, nevertheless, would be awarded a grade far, far above what the third California, in this case the new Southern (South?) California would get – uh, that would be a failing grade.
The new Southern California, to consist of 12 counties in all, not only would this state all of a sudden be declared, listed as the nation’s most air-polluted, but it would then be pretty much on its own where cleaning up its own air situation is concerned. Those counties in both the San Joaquin and Imperial valleys – as well as any located in the Inland Empire – the affected ones that this new state would include, along with Southern California, they themselves would, presumably, be the primary responsible entities for the cleanup of air there. That’s, at least, part of what this 1-state-into-3-states so-called “re-formation” would result in.
Okay, so say things play out this way and in staying with what would be the new Southern California, what would it mean with respect to cleaning up the air? Would there be total indifference, would matters be made worse or thinking of the best of all possible outcomes, would there be a brand new resolve?
There is really no telling.
One thing is for certain: because of the amount of land involved, the bureaucratic goings-on related to such land, actually could be more manageable.
But, there would obviously be other factors beyond bureaucratic matters to look at.
Such as, and this is a key one, transportation.
Firstly, Interstate (highway) 5 would immediately find itself running through five instead of three western states; namely, Washington, Oregon and the three California’s: Northern California, Southern California and, the one just plain called California.
Secondly, no doubt affected would be Amtrak’s mostly state-supported “California” services; we’re talking about the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner trains. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess how these services would be impacted and there would exist uncertainty over what communities would be served by what trains.
Next, and having more to do with infrastructure, is water and the distribution thereof. Right now, northern California supplies water to southern California and the central valley, while water San Francisco and portions of the Bay Area receive comes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir located in northwest Yosemite National Park. All of this could conceivably change. Who knows: it’s possible with the change (pending approval) the reservoir could cease to exist, the land returned to its natural state.
All of these things and more would need to be figured out.
Change, of course, depending upon what the change involves, could bode well or poorly for the quality of air, not just for the new Southern California, but for the new California and new Northern California too.
In breaking up California into three separate states there would be numerous hurdles that would need to be overcome.
That said, adding two more stars to the American flag could very well be in the offing. After all, West Virginia – once part of Virginia – was established in 1863, according to information in a recent Los Angeles Times report. (The name that was chosen for the then newest state wasn’t “Western Virginia,” hint, hint).
We’ll just have to wait and see.
A “new” Southern (South?) California (contingent, of course, on the split-up deal being sealed) or California, as it is currently configured, whatever the case may be, will be notoriously known, unfortunately, as America’s “sorriest-air” state.
Either way, there always exists the opportunity, regardless, to work at cleaning up California air.
As to the creation of 3 new California’s I will refrain from speculating at this time. Though the expression: “Three’s a crowd,” does come to mind.
This post has been updated.
Images: Isaiah West Taber (upper); U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (middle); USA. Gov – BLM – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (lower)