Plan promises cleaner air by 2024

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 The Valley’s air ranks among the worst in the country, but there’s a new plan that promises to improve our air quality in just five years. 

The California Air Resources Board recently approved the plan to not only reduce air pollution, but also meet federal air quality standards our region just isn’t meeting.

Kern County residents, the air you breathe may be putting your health at risk. And, we’re not alone. The same goes for most of the counties that make part of San Joaquin Valley. 

“Our area, unfortunately, faces some challenges that make it difficult to disperse the pollution that is created here locally,” said Heather Heinks, outreach and communications manager for Valley Air District.

Air pollution is measured by the levels of PM 2.5 in our air. PM stands for particulate matter and 2.5 is the size of it.

“What we’re talking about is little tiny particles, invisible to the human eye, that end up in our air and we breathe them,” said Heinks. “We breathe them in and over time exposure to them has very adverse impacts on your health.”

From shortness of breath to eye, nose and throat irritation and even diminished heart and lung function. They all depend on your health and the range of intensity of the PM 2.5, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“The federal government has set a standard for particulate matter for all the nation to follow,” said Heinks. 

Here in the Valley, we’re not meeting those PM 2.5 standards. But, the California Air Resources Board approved a plan last week that promises to get us there.

“It identifies all the sources we need to tackle to reach the standard,” said Heinks. 

With $5 billion in incentives funded by the federal government, the plan is to tackle particulate matter generated in our valley

“We can’t make the rule to tighten how they operate, but we can provide funding to encourage those owners and business leaders in the valley,” said Heinks. 

Grants for residents will be available for electric vehicles, replacing gas-fueled lawn equipment and replacing wood-burning devices. For businesses incentives will be available for replacing heavy-duty trucks, agriculture equipment and more. 

On the flip side, further restrictions will be placed on residential burning devices.

If you are interested in being a part of the incentive program visit valleyair.org/grants.

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