The ozone standard has been breached twice this week in the San Joaquin Valley — both in Maricopa at the southwest end of Kern County. They are the first March violations since 2007.
The late-winter warm spell gets the blame. At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the usual suspects — Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield and Sequoia National Park — are not spiking ozone problems.
The point is that it’s hard to escape ozone problems in the 25,000-square-mile San Joaquin Valley when nature switches on the heat.
The Valley’s run of five years without a March violation is memorable if only because such early season problems were pretty common a few years ago.
March violations happened in every year between 2001 and 2004. And there were nine violations in 2004.
Those were the bad old days of ozone here. The Valley averaged 155 violations over that span. From 2008 to 2012, the average was 105.
The goal in cleaning up the Valley’s air is zero violations. Last year, the Valley had 105 violations. But the first one didn’t happen until the third week in April.