By October, people in the San Joaquin Valley may not be carrying an extra $29 million debt for missing the old federal one-hour ozone standard.
It appears the Valley could achieve an ozone standard for the first time. This standard dates back decades. An EPA reference indicates a final decision on Feb. 8, 1979, to enforce it.
Pick the reason for the improvement: public awareness, billions of dollars spent on pollution control by businesses, landmark local air rules, cleaner fuels, cleaner cars, environmental lawsuits, good weather, better luck — all of the above.
If it happens, it will be memorable.
Until the last six or seven years, the Valley wasn’t even close to making any kind of ozone standard — federal, state, eight-hour, one-hour. The Valley still has a tough road ahead to make the federal eight-hour standard in the next decade.
This month, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a report that looked back 17 years to see the Valley’s progress with the one-hour standard. In 1996, the Valley spent 56 days over the one-hour standard. In 2012, it was three. So far this year, it’s zero.
August has been memorable already. There have been 11 days this month when ozone didn’t exceed either federal standard — the more stringent eight-hour or the old one-hour. Dating to 1994, there hasn’t been an August with more than 10 good days.