Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Will Valley finally achieve an ozone standard this year?

August, the partially completed column on the right, has seen fewer eight-hour exceedances than in the past.

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.

Responses

8TM says:

Attainment is reached when each site has no more than 3 exceedances within a 3 year period. The Fresno-Drummond site (an air monitor in the vicinity of Peach & Jensen Avenues) had three exceedances in 2011 and one in 2012 which the Air District wishes to call an anomaly. The date of this exceedance, August 10 2012, recorded concurrent high ozone readings at other Fresno monitors. Do you know on what basis the Air District contests the Fresno-Drummond reading as an anomaly? Attainment in 2013 would seem to rest on that determination.

Mark Grossi says:

Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, replied:

“This has been flagged as a exceptional event due to wildfires. Getting EPA approval of this exceptional event finding will be a part of EPA action to ultimately declare Valley attainment if we make it this year. The clean data finding and the exception event finding can proceed simultaneously. Both are lengthy processes requiring public noticing and participation.”

8TM says:

Odd that Fresno’s fine particulate readings for those hours register no simultaneous spike.

Crapin Deair says:

There is improvement since 1996, no doubt about it. We have paid the price by purchasing cars with expensive controls which are 98% cleaner than they used to be. But, has there been any real improvement since 2003 and 2004 when Clovis had only one 1-hour violation each year?

Also, the air district already took away a Fresno Drummond violation on August 11 when it hit 125 ppb and now they want to take away the one on August 10 as well. For unknown reasons they lowered the readings on each of those two days by 1 ppb. By the way, there was no smoke in Fresno on those two days except for the trash my neighbor was burning.

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