For twenty years this site near the Kern County Town of Arvin was a key air monitoring station which usually detected the dirtiest air. It's one reason drivers in the eight county Central Valley now pay an extra $29 million a year to register their cars. But two years ago the owners of the property, the Arvin Edison Water Storage District said the monitor had to go. It was moved two miles away and suddenly, the readings were better. but, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the California State Air Resources Board cried foul, saying the move made it impossible to accurately compare air quality readings from year to year. They have asked the water storage district to reconsider. A local air quality group asked the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to join them in making the call.
Sarah Sharpe said, "We were hoping that some pressure from local bodies and county boards and city councils would help convince that district to reinstate the monitor."
But in a contentious meeting a majority decided not to get involved.
Judy Case said, "I think this is a request to pull this county into what I perceive in a lot of ways to be a private property rights issue."
The director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Seyed Sadredin urged the board to hold off.
Sadredin said, "I do have to urge caution this is a highly technical and legal matter when it comes to placing monitors and dealing with that $29 million penalty."
Sadredin told the board efforts were being made to find alternatives to the monitor that would satisfy the EPA. But Supervisor Susan Anderson supported putting the monitor back to get a true picture of the Valley's air quality.
"Now we don't know," Anderson said. "We don't know if it's better, or worse, or whatever."
The monitor was moved because the Arvin Edison District got upset over other pollution regulations required by the state. But if it's not returned, and accurate readings aren't restored, the $29 million a year fee on drivers could remain in place indefinitely.