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air quality

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

If you spent time in the San Joaquin Valley over the holidays, the recent rain probably has you breathing a sigh of relief—not just because it’s bringing much needed rain and snow, but also because it’s the first time in weeks you can safely breathe. This story looks back at one of the most severe periods of smoggy air in decades.

When James Collins isn’t studying social work at Fresno State, he drives for the rideshare company Lyft. He sees a lot of open sky and bright sun.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the storm front earlier this week cleaned up the air for much of the San Joaquin Valley, many residents may be looking forward to lighting up their wood-burning fireplaces. However, you might be surprised to learn that some burning was allowed even as air pollution reached dangerously unhealthy levels.

This week we learn what happens when you don't "check before you burn" by taking a trip to the Valley Air District's "fireplace school." We also talk to Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier about his plans to leaglize a number of businesses involved in the marijuana industry in Fresno, and about a proposal that would give members of the city council a raise. We also hear how students at Fresno State may have kicked off a rebellion over student fees that extends system-wide in the CSU. We also hear an interview with California Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate John Chiang. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you may have been required to attend traffic school. Likewise, cause a scene at work, you may have to take anger management classes. But what if you violate burning restrictions? The local air district runs a different kind of class intended to spark good behavior.

On damp, chilly nights Patrick Smith has a tradition: He builds a fire in his fireplace. Smith lives in northwest Fresno. A gas-powered furnace heats his home, but Smith still thinks of a fire as a gathering place for his family.

Google / Aclima

An online tool from tech giant Google is giving California residents a new look at ground level air pollution in their neighborhoods. The company announced this week new air pollution data collected by its fleet of Google Street View cars.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A major scandal rocked the auto industry two years ago when it was discovered that the car company Volkswagen had been systematically cheating on diesel emissions tests. That scandal might soon turn into a big boon for electric cars in the Central Valley.

Faces of Fracking / Flickr

A series of hearings began today in Kern County in a lawsuit over an ordinance that could allow up to 70,000 new oil and gas wells there over the next two decades.

 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we learn about how valley fever once harmed prisoners throughout the region, KVPR Reporter Kerry Klein has that story. Later we hear from KVPR's Jeffrey Hess about the state of Kern County libraries. FM89 Reporters Ezra David Romero and Kerry Klein team up to report on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's new plan to curb PM2.5 emissions. Also in the show we hear from locals about what Mayor Ashley Swearengin did and didn't do well in her eight years in office.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

After years of clean-up efforts and some notable progress, air in the San Joaquin Valley is still among the worst in the nation. Now there’s a new goal for cleaning up particulate pollution  from things that create dust and exhaust. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the effort has reached a new phase thanks to intervention from the state.  

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. 

Obama campaign - YouTube

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.

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