In a recent article on the passing of SB 719 the Merced Sun Star presented a balanced piece regarding the successful passing of the legislation.
One of the comments on the website asked the question:
If the SJV air district is doing such a bad job, why is the USEPA about to announce them in attainment for PM10 (particulate matter)? The natural geography of the valley basin coupled with two major highways running the length jammed with trucks and vehicles so the emissions get trapped is not going to get fixed by throwing political appointments at it. Cleaning the air in the valley is an extremely complex issue. It is a slap in the face to the air district scientists and engineers that are working hard to find viable solutions. Unless you want to walk around in a fig leaf and not drive your car at all, do not throw stones and imply there is a simple answer to any of this.
The Valley Air district has been making some great progress in many areas. Indeed the PM10 compliance is to be applauded.
However, in some areas the air district has been accused of not moving fast enough. An example of this is the 8 hour ozone plan (or SIP).
During the summer the air district voted to put the valley into the most extreme EPA category possible, delaying the valleys attainment date by over a decade to 2024. The board cited the fact that even if money was no object (e.g. we bought everyone in the valley a hybrid vehicle) we could not reach attainment sooner.
This was in contradiction to an independent scientific study that proposed attainment was realistic by 2018. A lot of people feel the health impact of this delay was not taken into consideration, hence Florez proposing we add health and air pollution experts to the board.
Mike Nelson, County Supervisor for Merced who sits on the board has publicly stated that he does not understand the details, and just follows the recommendations of the staff. SB 719 aims to help Mike by adding experts to the board who do understand.
We are quite right to applaud the Valley Air district on their achievements, I believe SB 719 will allow them to succeed even more