Valley meets federal ozone standard
After being classified as one of the most polluted areas in the country less than a decade ago, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials announced Thursday that the Valley had, for the first time in history, achieved a minimum federal hourly ozone standard.
The district will submit a request to the Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the findings and subsequently alleviate a $29-million mandated penalty that, since 2010, Valley residents have gradually paid through vehicle registration and additional business fees.
If confirmed, beyond any financial benefits, Thursday’s announcement could highlight one of the most significant changes in history for an area where air quality is more often tied to asthma than clean skies.
Ozone — usually a combination of vehicle, agricultural, or industrial emissions, stagnant air, and high temperatures — has been problematic for the Valley for decades because of several reasons, said Samir Sheikh, director of the Air District’s Strategies and Incentives Department...