Clean Energy: Cleaner Air in the Valley

July 9, 2008 9:14:45 PM PDT
On a day when the combination of heat and bad air has people around the valley laying low, experts met in Merced to explore technology that could improve the valley's air quality.One glance out the window is all it takes to see polluted air hovering over the valley.

Seyed Sadredin, S.J.V Air Pollution Control District: "With the smoke from the fires, as you might have noticed, we are reaching very unhealthy air quality levels. I believe if there's a silver lining, they are a good reminder of what air quality could be if we don't do our job."

That's why federal, state, and local officials met at U.C. Merced on Wednesday to discuss technologies designed to improve air quality ? from solar energy to electric cars to a variety of hybrids.

"I just want to introduce you to a far out concept. We call it the stationary hybrid."

The agencies also agreed to work together to take those technologies to the next level in order to meet federal air quality standards.

Wayne Nastri, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: "You can have hybrid vehicles on heavy duty trucks, which is something we're very excited about, as well as locomotives." "So part of the challenge is deciding which of those technologies hold the most promise, which hold the most economic and environmental benefit, and which can we bring to the market soonest."

One idea that's already in the works targets older diesel trucks. During the forum, the state presented the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District with a 5.6 million dollar check to retrofit as many as 300 diesel trucks with special filters and to replace the engines of dozens of others.

Cindy Tuck, Ca Undersecretary for Environmental Protection: "Our mobile sources, particularly trucks, are one of the biggest sources of emissions in the Valley, so being able to have incentive funding to get early reductions from these trucks is critical."

Officials say the funding and the forum are two important steps toward the challenging goal of cleaning up California's skies.
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