News Analysis

California Builders Pay for Degrading Air Quality

Beginning March 1, 2006, builders in California’s Central Valley will be forced to either reduce the smog and particulate matter their projects generate or help finance projects that improve the region’s air quality. The program, believed to be the first of its kind, applies to the eight, largely agricultural, counties regulated by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The Central Valley’s climate, topography, and population make it vulnerable to air pollution by particulate matter and ground-level ozone, or smog; as a result, the region rivals Los Angeles and Houston for the country’s worst air quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Despite years of improved air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, the air basin still fails to meet state and federal health-based standards,” says the Air District. “Therefore, the Air District is required by federal law to adopt the most stringent control measures available to reduce emissions.”

Published February 1, 2006