air quality

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Residents of Bakersfield breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation, thanks to a confluence of vehicle exhaust, industrial operations, and stagnant valley air. In an effort to combat pollution, air quality advocates are now targeting a potential source of emissions that, at the moment, is not even operating.

Ride your bike along the Kern River just west of downtown Bakersfield, and you pass joggers and people walking dogs. To one side of the trail, families play Frisbee golf in the grass. To the other side, a symbol of Kern County’s economy looms silently.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Valley Air District says local air quality forecasts might soon get worse, even if the air  is actually getting better. FM89’s Joe Moore explains. 

The problem is summertime ozone pollution. Last year, the valley exceeded the federal, 8-hour ozone health standard 80 times. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s also the lowest level on record for the region, and it’s down over 25 percent since 2011. 

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Former Senator Dean Florez says the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District isn't doing enough to protect the health of local residents. Last week Florez was appointed to the powerful California Air Resources Board (CARB) by California Senate leader Kevin de Leon.  

Florez: "I think there's a lot more they could be doing. I think they should move quicker. There's a lot more tools in their toolbox than there were 10 years ago. Anything I can do to make this board move quicker from the state level, I'm going to do."

Dean Florez
Dean Florez Facebook

Former State Senator Dean Florez is headed back to Sacramento, this time as a new member of the state's powerful Air Resources Board. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon announced the appointment Wednesday, saying in a written statement that the Shafter Democrat has "the resolve to stand up to the oil lobby who want to keep the status quo." 

A decade ago, Florez led legislative efforts to end the agriculture industry's historic exemption from state air quality rules. 

Florez issued the following statement:

California Air Resources Board

The LA Times recently called Mary Nichols a “rock star.” In 2013 Time Magazine called her one of the 100 most influential people in the world and the Thomas Edison on environmentalism. She’s the chair of the California Air Resources Board, and if it has something to do with air quality or climate change in the state, she probably has something to say about it.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

With the final vote for the Fresno General Plan Update and Environmental Impact Report just around the corner, activists are appealing for changes to the plan that could potentially alter the health of children in the region. 

A group of activists an    d health leaders met today at the site of a proposed new park in Northwest Fresno near Highway 99 to protest what they call a big problem with the city's proposed new general plan. Their concern - this park and another would be built next to busy freeways - and the polluted air that comes from them.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about immigration and the President's executive action with San Joaquin College of Law's Jessica Smith Bobadilla and Vicente Sanchez Ventura, the Consul of Mexico in Fresno

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County over its approval of a project that would expand oil-by-rail shipments at a Bakersfield refinery. 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the railyard expansion at the Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway in September. The project would allow the refinery to process crude oil from the Midwest, delivered to Bakersfield by train.

Kassie Siegel is with the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups in the lawsuit. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

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- One charge will last up to 125 miles for Clovis PD's 5 new electric motorcycles. Oh & they go up to 95 mph.
- Clovis has 5 electric motorcycles & they have the most of any PD in the nation. 

It’s the dead of summer and the air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is red or unhealthy for sensitive groups. But one Valley police department is doing their part to change that. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New research this week questions the connection between air pollution and asthma.

In 2011, a study by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District established a link between asthma-related ER visits and levels of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter in valley air.  But after a follow-up to that study, the Air District now reports that for a number of years, asthma-related ER visits increased even as PM2.5 levels dropped.

David Lighthall, health science advisor to the Air District, says the findings should not be interpreted as black and white.