Pollution concerns trigger "air alert"

FRESNO, Calif.

"We're encouraging parents to not idle their vehicles when they go to pick their children up. "

Jamie Holt, of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District also suggests not idling in up lanes at fast food places. Other suggestions include carpooling, taking the bus, riding a bike or walking. She says putting off using a gas lawn mower this week, or moving in the morning can reduce Ozone production. The goal of all this advice is to head off any more violations of the Federal Clean Air Act's standards on Ozone pollution. The eight county region of the Central Valley violated the standards for just seven hours last year but, Valley residents will be paying for it for at least three years.

"Being out of attainment and missing last year's attainment deadline has actually triggered Section 185 of the Clean Air Act. It is a $29-million penalty against the Valley for failing to meet this standard."

That means, car registrations go up $12 a year, for the next three years. Judging from the reaction we got from folks at the DMV, it's something nobody's happy about.

Debbie Ayala of Fresno said; "I think it's outrageous, they already charge enough as it is."

Manuel Berruman of Sanger said; "Money's hard to come by... they keep on raising everything and we don't get nothing."

And Jerry Brown of Fresno put it this way; "Twelve bucks is twelve bucks. A lot of people are on a fixed income, so, takes food out of their mouth."

In addition, Valley industries that create too much ozone pollution will pay higher fees. The money goes back to the air district to fund clean air projects, like a program that provided smog checks and free repairs to more than five hundred cars in Fresno this past weekend.

Air Alerts will now be issued whenever conditions are right for high pollution levels. This alert episode starts Tuesday and runs through Sunday. It's hoped that with a few steps the Valley can avoid violating the ozone standard this year, and avoid future penalties.

For more information on "Air Alerts" visit the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Districts website at www.Valleyair.org.

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