Plan would achieve clean air by 2013 — 11 years sooner than Air District proposal;
District urged to back off plans to delay clean up

Alternative doesn’t require federal or state assistance

FRESNO, Calif. – A report released today by a nationally renowned research institute outlines an affordable and achievable roadmap to cleaning the San Joaquin Valley’s notoriously dirty air by 2013, the federal deadline to do so. “Clearing the Air: How Clean Air is Possible and Affordable by 2013” stands in dramatic contrast to a plan released last week by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District that recommends postponing the Valley’s clean up until 2024 because of cost and feasibility concerns.

“Today’s study provides an achievable, faster path to clean air in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Nicole Davis of the International Sustainable Systems Research Center, which conducted the study. “This alternative plan shows that clean air is not only possible, it’s affordable by 2013. Every single recommendation is a proven strategy that is protecting public health around California and across the country.”

The plan, which specifically targets ozone and particulate matter pollution – among the most dangerous to public health – provides a clear alternative to the District’s in three key areas.  First, it provides a roadmap to clean air attainment by 2013 at a third of the cost of the District’s estimate. In fact, the price tag for this alternative plan is nearly same as what the District says it will take to get there by 2024 and produces a cost savings of $5.4 billion compared to the public health care costs of inaction.  Second, it doesn’t require any action from the state and federal governments – long considered a stumbling block to the District’s progress.  Lastly, it sends a clear message that delaying clean air is a choice, not a necessity. The study was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
“We all live here, work here and raise our children here,” said Craig Scharton, CEO of the Central Valley Business Incubator. “As a business leader, I’m greatly concerned about the costs of delaying clean air. Valley families losing an average of $4,000 per year in lost wages, health care bills and missed days at school has an impact on our ability to attract new employees and companies to the region.”

The study shows that if the Air District adopts five key recommendations, it can reach the clean air deadline of 2013 without delay and at a third of the cost of its current estimates. The five recommendations are:

1. Take proven technology and strategies from other areas and apply them to the Valley. There are several proven strategies that can be applied directly to the Valley that the District plan doesn’t employ.

2. Reduce vehicle and equipment pollution. Currently, the District relies too heavily on incentives to reduce vehicle and equipment pollution, which is why its plan costs so much more. Recommendations include additional strategies that would bring the Valley 70 percent closer to attainment by 2013 than the District’s plan.

3. Ensure that all new policies will actually reduce air pollution. Many rules and amendments passed in the last five years by the District have resulted in no emissions reduction or other air quality benefit. The plan recommends that every measure should report the expected air quality and health benefits to provide the kind of transparency and accountability taxpayers expect from a public agency.

4. Monitor and track particulate-matter pollution. The District should follow the lead of the South Coast Air Quality Management District and monitor particulate matter pollution so it can better understand the Valley’s exposure.

5. Take a leading role on state and federal pollution sources. The District can and should take local actions to reduce emissions of federal and state sources instead of waiting for others to take action. It should also actively pressure state and federal governments to provide funding and appropriate legislation to address air quality.

Residents from across the Valley welcomed the good news and urged the District to reconsider its plans for delaying the clean up.

“This study shows that clean air by 2013 is achievable in the San Joaquin Valley if the District is willing to make that goal a reality,” said Enrique Medina, City Manager for the City of Arvin.  “Inaction and delay is simply unacceptable.”

“As a mother I find it unacceptable that if the District delays clean air, a child born today will have to wait until high school graduation to breathe clean air” said Lisa Kayser-Grant, founder of MOMS Clean Air Network. “This plan gives us another choice.”  

“It would be a mistake to view this solely as an economic or environmental issue,” said Rich Fowler, Director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Stockton.  “This is a moral issue. Thousands of lives are being lost due to respiratory illnesses. Our children have extremely high rates of asthma. Breathing healthy air is the right of every family in the San Joaquin Valley. We send the wrong moral message when we tell families they have to wait for clean air while their children continue to suffer.”

The report was prepared by ISSRC, a nationally renowned research institute committed to identifying proven approaches and technologies to support environmentally sustainable economic growth.  ISSRC has carried out studies in 10 international cities and has ongoing, multi-year efforts in several other important locations.

The study was funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has been making grants since 1966 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The executive summary and full report can be found by clicking here.

Media Contacts:
Sara Hossaini: (415) 901-0111 x338
Tenoch Flores (415) 901-0111 x326